Conservation, Energy & Environment

USDA Introduces Online Farm Link Tool for Beginning Farmers

December 13, 2010

On Monday, December 13, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the release of TIP Net, an online tool to help link retiring farmers who have expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts with beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers who want to buy or rent land for their operations. CRP contracts covering millions of acres of […]

Tax Cuts Package Likely to Pass Senate

December 10, 2010

UPDATE: The Senate passed the tax cuts package this morning (Wednesday, December 15) by a vote of 81-19; the House is expected to take up the bill for debate tomorrow. — A controversial package of legislation negotiated by President Obama with Republican legislators, including a 2-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for all income […]

House Passes Senate Food Safety Bill with FY 11 Appropriations

December 9, 2010

On Wednesday evening, December 8, the House passed a combined Continuing Resolution-Food Safety bill by a vote of 212-206.  All Republicans and 35 Democrats voted no. The Continuing Resolution would fund all government functions for the remainder of the current fiscal year 2011, which ends September 30, 2011.  The current short-term Continuing Resolution expires on […]

Cellulosic Ethanol Drops in Renewable Fuel Standard / Dueling Letters on Corn Ethanol Tax Break

December 3, 2010

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted an updated Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) for 2011 with a low number for cellulosic biofuel — 6.6 million gallons (the equivalent of 6.0 million gallons of ethanol).  The RFS2 sets the level for the amount of various biofuel categories that are to be blended into U.S. gasoline in […]

Deficit Commission Releases Final Report

December 1, 2010

On Wednesday, December 1, the White House National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform released its final report detailing a plan to reduce the nation’s deficit.  The report, entitled “The Moment of Truth,” calls for significant reductions in agricultural spending. The Commission recommends $15 billion in gross reductions in mandatory agriculture programs from 2012 through […]

NRCS Issues FY11 RFA for Conservation Innovation Grants

December 1, 2010

On Tuesday, November 30, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) issued the Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) request for applications for program funding for FY 2011.  NRCS anticipates that $25 million will be available in FY 2011. While the request for applications will not be published in the Federal Register, you can download it here from […]

USDA Publishes Grasslands Reserve Program Final Rule

November 30, 2010

On Monday, November 29, NRCS published its final rule for the Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP) in the Federal Register.  You can download a pdf version of the final rule here. USDA published its interim final rule (IFR) for public comment on January 21, 2009, and subsequently published an amendment to address issues associated with wind […]

USDA Announces Funding for Conservation Projects in Mississippi River Basin

November 29, 2010

On Monday, November 29, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of up to $43 million in FY 2011 funding for existing conservation projects to improve water quality in forty-one priority watersheds through the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), administered by USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).  The funding will be available to […]

USDA Publishes Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) Final Rule

November 23, 2010

On Tuesday, November 23, NRCS published its final rule for the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) in the Federal Register.  You can download a pdf version of the final rule here. USDA published its interim final rule (IFR) for public comment on January 16, 2009.  It subsequently published two amendments to address a number of […]

Workshop, New Guide for Organic Farmers and Ranchers

November 19, 2010

This week, the Organic Farming Research Foundation hosted a workshop in Davis, California with organic farmers and ranchers and staff of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).   The workshop explored and identified ways that NRCS programs and conservation technical assistance can better work for farmers and ranchers using organic farming systems.  About 55 participants […]

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