State conservationist Jay T. Mar, who heads USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service in Iowa, signed an agreement on September 6 with the Technical Service Provider Network, or TSPN. The agreement will help NRCS more efficiently develop and implement soil and water conservation plans for Iowa farmers.
Judy Martinson, who serves as the Iowa NRCS liaison to the TSPN, says the new memorandum of understanding, or MOU, will increase the availability of technical service to Iowa farmers and landowners. "The MOU helps the two groups define their respective responsibilities and expectations," she says. "TSPN and Iowa NRCS share a common interest in the wise use and management of natural resources as well as improving educational and work opportunities for TSPs."
The MOU says, in effect, that Iowa NRCS will provide a liaison to the TSPN (that person is Martinson), along with information and support to technical service providers so they understand NRCS technical requirements and are aware of information available to them.
Farmers and landowners can hire a technical service provider in Iowa to help them put conservation plans and practices to work on the land
The MOU signing was part of the TSPN's annual meeting, which included training on NRCS nutrient management and engineering requirements. "The meeting is also an opportunity for technical service providers to interact and discuss current topics related to their fields of expertise, learn more about the TSPN, and to explore growth opportunities for the next year," says Martinson.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
For information about becoming a technical service provider, or hiring a technical service provider in Iowa, call Judy Martinson at 515-284-4370. Visit the Iowa NRCS website for more information.
NRCS sets October 4 as suggested conservation program sign-up deadline
In other NRCS news, the agency last week announced that in anticipation of a new farm bill, USDA/NRCS is encouraging Iowa farmers and private landowners to visit their local USDA office by October 4 to be considered for the first round of conservation program funding selections. Before submitting an application, farmers are strongly encouraged to discuss the resource concerns for their farm and develop a conservation plan, or update their current plan if needed.
"Farmers can help maximize the benefits of conservation financial assistance programs if they have a solid understanding of their conservation needs," says Jay T. Mar, Iowa NRCS state conservationist. "We don't want farmers to miss any opportunities that could protect their soil, water and promote wildlife habitat."
USDA conservation programs are offered through a continuous signup, but NRCS periodically batches and ranks applications as funding allows. "We want to be prepared and ready to go with applications if farm bill funding is announced," says Larry Beeler, Iowa NRCS assistant state conservationist for programs.
NRCS wants to be prepared and ready to go with your application if farm bill funding is announced
Two of USDA's most popular conservation programs are part of this signup: the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, and the Wetlands Reserve Program, or WRP. According to Beeler, this signup includes all associated EQIP and landscape initiatives such as the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative, or MRBI, the Organic Initiative and the National Water Quality Initiative.
This summer Iowa celebrated 165,000 acres of restored wetlands through WRP and similar USDA programs. During the last 20 years, Iowa NRCS invested more than $300 million to bring back Iowa wetlands through easement payments and restoration costs.
Statewide EQIP practices include, but are not limited to, nutrient management, terraces, grassed waterways, cover crops, manure management facilities, and pasture management. Each program initiative includes its own separate practice list. These lists are available at your local NRCS office or online.