Weekly Column

Public invited to comment on new Conservation Stewardship Program rule

Changes are coming to the nation’s largest conservation program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking public comments on a new rule.

On Nov. 12, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which offers farmers and ranchers a valuable opportunity to build on and increase conservation on their operations.

The 2018 farm bill made a variety of changes to CSP, and this rule is the process where the USDA puts them into action. The changes include: 

What about our farmers?

Earlier this year, in the midst of a trade war with China, President Donald Trump announced a $16 billion agriculture bailout, telling Americans, via Twitter, the biggest beneficiaries would be “our great Patriot Farmers.”

Recent news reports, however, indicate foreign companies are getting some of the bailout dollars.

Iowans have a unique opportunity to address rural issues with candidates

This week marks one year until the 2020 general election, in which Americans will select their next president.

For Iowans, this comes as no surprise. Candidates have been campaigning in the state for months in hopes of winning support in the Iowa caucuses. For rural Iowans specifically, the attention provides a unique opportunity to engage the candidates about issues that affect rural areas.

Programs could help veterans become next generation of producers 

With the average age of a U.S. farmer at nearly 60 years, and millions of acres expected to change hands over the next few years, military veterans have a key role to play as the nation looks for the next generation of producers.

To do so, veterans will need assistance overcoming barriers, such as accessing land and the lack of assets or cash flow to purchase land, equipment, and farm inputs.

Access to credit is an important component of most farming operations, especially for new and beginning producers.

Cost of wind projects continues steady decline 

The U.S. wind industry is booming—expanding from 1.5 gigawatts of cumulative installed capacity in 1998 to 96.4 gigawatts of installed capacity in 2018.

At the same time, the cost of these projects continues to go down. According to the newly-released 2018 Wind Market Technologies Report from the U.S. Department of Energy, the average cost of constructing a wind energy project in 1983 was $4,478 per kilowatt hour. In 2018, the cost dropped to just $1,468 per kilowatt hour.

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