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eNotes: Weekly News Briefs from the National Association of Conservation Districts

December 14, 2010

NACD Supports Farm Bill Conservation Programs

NACD is urging Congress to support full funding for conservation programs authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. These vital programs provide critical assistance for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to address local natural resource concerns while producing food, fuel, feed and fiber for the world’s growing population.

“Applied conservation on the nation's farms, ranches and private forestlands provides clean water, healthy, productive soils and wildlife habitat, and other important public benefits that should not be lost,” NACD President Steve Robinson stated in a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye and Ranking Member Thad Cochran.

Conservation districts work with millions of cooperating landowners and operators to manage and protect land and water resources. Full funding of Farm Bill conservation programs will help ensure the continuation and success of these locally-led efforts to provide critical natural resource benefits for communities.

Report Shows Inconsistencies in Chesapeake Bay Data Modeling

A new report finds inconsistencies between EPA’s Total Maximum Daily Loads with those in a recent draft USDA report. The discrepancies related to assumptions about conservation practices and other data used as the basis for EPA’s Chesapeake Bay “pollution loads” model. EPA’s modeling potentially underestimates the good progress that farmers and landowners are making in the Bay region.

“Landowners have already implemented many environmental best management practices resulting in significant reductions in nutrient and sediment loadings in the Chesapeake Bay watershed over the past 25 years,” NACD President Steve Robinson said. “It's important that these efforts are fully accounted for in EPA's modeling. Fair and accurate treatment of producer activity is critical to ensuring maximum participation in cleanup efforts – and in turn, a cleaner and healthier Chesapeake Bay.”

To address concerns about the accuracy of EPA’s modeling, NACD recently entered into an agreement with NRCS to coordinate the design of a system to reliably track the voluntary conservation practices that farmers are already implementing in the Bay region. NACD is working with the six Bay-region states, NRCS, EPA and other stakeholders to design a protocol for the characterization and collection of best management practices (BMPs) installed by agriculture producers – with the ultimate goal of ensuring these BMPs are counted in the EPA model.

NACD, Indiana, Wisconsin Win Grant for MRBI Work

The Walton Family Foundation (WFF) has awarded $225,000 in grant funding to NACD for policy support and on-the-ground conservation work associated with the Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI).

Funding under the one-year grant is designated for the following areas: (1) public policy education by NACD, (2) the Indiana MRBI project, through the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (IASWCD) and (3) the Wisconsin MRBI project, through the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association (WLWCA).

The Indiana project will target watersheds where the greatest needs have already been identified. IASWCD will document the results through water quality monitoring, modeling and producer surveys, in order to achieve maximum watershed benefits in the future. The Wisconsin project seeks to identify the highest phosphorus and nitrogen sources in the landscape in order to direct conservation resource to the areas that need it most.

Earlier this year, conservation districts in the Mississippi River Basin received more than $11 million of the $30 million awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help landowners implement conservation practices to prevent, control and trap nutrient runoff from agricultural land.

Congress Continues Debate on Appropriations, Taxes

Debate on Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 appropriations and the Obama tax deal takes center stage this week on Capitol Hill. Yesterday, the tax deal negotiated by the President and Republican leaders moved one step closer to reality.

The Senate voted by a large, bipartisan margin to end debate on the bill, and is expected to pass the measure in the immediate future. The measure will then be up for consideration in the House, where Democrats may attempt to amend the estate tax provisions by increasing the rate and decreasing the exemption level.

Next on the Senate agenda will be an omnibus appropriations bill; it’s unclear whether it can garner the 60 votes necessary for passage. Last week, the House passed a full-year continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through end of the current fiscal year at FY 2010 levels. Instead of either a yearlong CR or omnibus, some Senate Republicans have proposed a short-term CR until February, giving Republicans a greater role in determining federal budget policy in the next Congress.

Live Auction Deadline Approaching

The deadline for donations to the NACD Live Auction is fast approaching! To ensure your donation is featured in the auction catalog, please submit your donation form by December 17th.

Featuring your item in the catalog helps us promote the items and bring in the maximum amount possible for each piece. The Live Auction would not be possible each year without your generous donations. All auction proceeds from this popular event are used to support NACD’s legislative activities. A few NACD favorites will be back again this year, including the hand-made Amish quilt and the Wild Turkey Federation Gun of the Year.

Take a moment to visit the NACD auction web page and fill out the donation form.

Lucas to Head House Ag Committee

Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) has been officially elected as the next Chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. The former Chairman of the Conservation, Credit, Rural Development and Research Subcommittee, Lucas has a longstanding history of working closely with conservation districts, and is a strong advocate of the partnership between districts, NRCS and state conservation agencies.

“Rep. Lucas has been a strong supporter of conservation over the years, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with him as we head into the next Congress and upcoming Farm Bill,” NACD President Steve Robinson said. “He has played a critical role in strengthening cooperative conservation throughout the nation and his efforts have gone a long way in ensuring farmers, ranchers and other landowners have the resources necessary to protect our air land and water through locally-led, voluntary programs on the ground.”

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In this Issue

NACD Supports Farm Bill Conservation Programs (read more...)

Report Shows Inconsistencies in Chesapeake Bay Data Modeling (read more...)

NACD, Indiana, Wisconsin Win Grant for MRBI Work (read more...)

Congress Continues Debate on Appropriations, Taxes (read more...)

Live Auction Deadline Approaching (read more...)

Lucas to Head House Ag Committee (read more...)

Scroll down for additional
news briefs:

Join NACD at the Gaylord Opryland

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Join NACD at the
Gaylord Opryland

Attendees at this year’s NACD Annual Meeting will stay at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.

The hotel is located on the banks of the Cumberland River in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, and offers many amenities in addition to NACD’s meeting space.

To learn more about Gaylord Opryland, click here to watch the 2011 NACD Annual Meeting promotional video.

NACD Events Calendar

For additional details regarding the meetings listed below, click here.

  • December 14–15, National Conservation Partnership Conference, Louisville, Kentucky
  • January 6–7, 2011, NACD North Central Region Board Meeting, Schiller Park, Illinois
  • January 30–February 2, 2011, NACD 2011 Annual Meeting, Nashville, Tennessee
  • July 16-17, 2011, NACD Summer Board Meeting, Washington, D.C.
  • July 17-19, 2011, NACD Summer Legislative Conference, Washington, D.C.

NACD | 509 Capitol Court, NE | Washington, D.C. 20002 | (202) 547-6223 | www.nacdnet.org

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