Sustainable Agriculture News – Week of Feb 16, 2015

Federal Funding Available for Minority and Veteran Farmer Outreach and Assistance: On February 11, USDA released the Request for Applications for the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, more commonly known as the 2501 program. Simultaneously it also released an RFA for the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center. House and Senate Bills Would Eliminate Harvest Price Option Subsidy: On Thursday February 12, Senators Jeff Flake and Jeanne Shaheen teamed with Representative Jeff Duncan to introduce legislation in both the Senate and House to eliminate the subsidy for the Harvest Price Option within the federal crop insurance program. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this legislation, if passed into law, will save the federal government $19 billion over 10 years. Farm and Conservation Organizations Speak Out on Conservation Program Rules: Sixty farm and conservation organizations including many NSAC member and partner organizations joined in a letter to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service recommending several changes to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to increase EQIP’s ability to improve sustainability, optimize the program’s cost-effectiveness, better serve organic farmers, and support a shift toward more environmentally sound agricultural practices. A Closer Look at the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program in 2014In early September of 2014, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced that it had awarded $328 million for 380 wetland, grassland, and farmland conservation easements covering 129,000 acres in the first year of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. The information on the types of easements that were funded in each state has now been made available and this post examines the fiscal year 2014 ACEP enrollment on a state-by-state basis.

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