What's Up at the USDA Office?

Upcoming Deadlines/Dates
May 15-August 1: Primary Nesting Season
June 15: COC Election Ballots Mailed to Producers in LAA 3
July 15: Crop Certification
July 23: CRP General Signup
August 6: CRP Continuous Signup

Cost Sharing opportunities for Conservation
by LuAnn Rolling, District Conservationist
July 1st is the first day of the new fiscal year for the state of Iowa.  For the Allamakee Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) this means getting their 2022 allocation of cost sharing funds. This year the Conservation District is utilizing their funds for 50% cost share on waterways, grade stabilization structures (farm ponds), sediment basins (dry ponds), and terraces.  They will also take applications for a state-wide pool for cover crops with a higher rate per acre for producers trying cover crops for the first time. We already have a list started for cover crop cost sharing so if you are considering some for this fall stop in and begin the planning process.

For a state cost shared waterway the Commissioners are requiring erosion control blanket down the middle. This does increase costs but during the critical time before the seeding gets established it is an effective way to prevent gullying during heavy rainfalls. If the waterway area is wet there is also cost sharing on waterway tile.

The other source of incentives for Allamakee County producers is the Federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP. Locally these funds are typically utilized for pasture improvement, energy improvement and livestock waste management. The sign-up is on-going.

The pasture funding is for a total pasture program that would involve dividing the pastures into at least 5 paddocks to utilize at least a 30-day rest. Each paddock would have water in it, either pumped from a well or ponds, or hauled to tanks. The goal for water is to never have an animal walk over 600 ft. to water. We can also cost share on fences (except property and road fences), heavy use protection on high use travel lanes and around waterers, pasture seeding, brush management and grazing management. The pasture plans require quite a bit of planning time so plans currently underway are to begin implementation in 2022.

The energy payment is for improvements to dairy milking equipment, lighting for livestock facilities, yard lights and grain dryer improvements (not expansions). The old grain drying equipment must be destroyed. The new grain drying equipment will pay for up to a 25% capacity improvement. Producers can install greater than 25% but it will not be cost shared. All energy improvements require an accredited energy audit. There is also cost sharing on the audit so this process will probably take two years: year 1 for the audit and year 2 for the energy improvements.

The livestock manure storage cost sharing requires a comprehensive nutrient management plan, CNMP, prior to approval.  There is also cost sharing to obtain the CNMP so this is also a 2-year process with year 1 obtaining the CNMP and year 2 installation of the manure management system.

All the EQIP cost share opportunities are chosen competitively with a state-wide funding pool. There is a lot of competition for these funds so just signing up does not ensure receiving funding. The next ranking deadline is October so if anyone is considering practices it is not too soon to begin that process by signing up at the USDA office on Eleventh Avenue SW (across from the Fareway store).