Government Conservation Programs: Is There Assistance for You?

Ever heard of the Dust Bowl and the Dirty Thirties? It was a significant time in our history that has shaped agriculture into how we operate today. In the 1930’s the agriculture Image result for quotes about conservationindustry in the US was brought forth with a tough challenge: how do we save our soils from being blown away? Too much tillage from the invention of the plow had caused a depletion of soil structure and left no living cover, leaving it vulnerable to be blown away. Something had to be done. The solution started back in 1933 when a man named Hugh Hammond Bennett planned a great speech on a day that would startle the capital. This would be the day when dust from states like Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas would blow on the steps of the capital during his speech to politicians on how something had to be done about the vast amounts of erosion problems. Bennett’s point was made and the lawmakers formed the Soil Erosion Service, now known as Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). This agency is formatted under the farm bill and branched from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Average Day at NRCS Office

Broadly speaking, the Natural Resources Conservation Service provides technical and financial assistance to farmers and private landowners. Farmers that want to receive

Terrace being constructed to decrease erosion. Photo Credit: Caleb Waters, Lake Geode Watershed Coordinator

government benefits, need to follow a conservation plan that is determined by their local NRCS office. The employees of the office will carry out random compliance checks to determine if operators are following their plans. Also, concerned landowners are constantly calling the office for conservation assistance. NRCS employees normally will meet with these landowners and discuss options to solve their conservation concerns. There may not always be financial assistance for them, but NRCS employees will always steer them in the right direction.

Technicians will spend time estimating, surveying, designing, and staking out conservation structures that will address environmental concerns. Common stuctures in our location consist of waterways, terraces, ponds, and basins. The technician will spend time designing these structures to withstand historic rainfalls. They will assist contractors to make sure projects are being built properly.

Available Government Programs and Services

  1. EQUIP- The Environmental Quality Incentives Program financially helps landowners improve their soil sustainability and water quality, as well as helping them implement grazing, wetlands, and wildlife practices. This program has been successfully responsible for providing conservation practices to thousands of landowners over the years.
  2. CSP- The Conservation Stewardship Program gives inncentives for producers to improve their existing practices and adopt more beneficial conservation practices.
  3. CRP- The Conservation Reserve Program is a program that is assisted with NRCS employees. It allows landowners to receive rental payments for a certain amount of years under a contract, in exchange for environmentally vulnerable agriculture land. The land will be planted with a permanent cover for conservation improvement.

These are three common programs of the many different conservation programs available for landowners. They have solved many problems like the dust bowl and have been

waterway
Above Photo: Constructed waterway designed to reduce sediment erosion. Photo Credit: Caleb Waters, Lake Geode Watershed Coordinator

improving water quality. Programs like these give producers options and great incentives to improve the quality of their land. They prevent some regulation on agriculture producers by giving them a neutral medium. The commodity demand is going to keep increasing with the increasing population. The land we have now is the land we will have in 100 years from now. Producers have to be good land stewards and take care of our natural resources. Interested landowners should contact their local NRCS office to explore some available conservation options.

Bio: Professional Headshot

Hello, my name is John Wischmeier and I am currently a senior at Western Illinois University. I started my college career at Southeastern Community College and I am graduating in May of this year with my Bachelor’s degree here at WIU. I am studying agriculture business and going to minor in agronomy. I was raised on a crop and livestock farm located near a small town of Sperry, Iowa. I have worked with NRCS for two summers and learned many benefits of conservation. My time is winding down here at WIU, but it has been great time and I have made many enjoyable experiences.

Thank you for reading my blog!

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