agriculture News briefs | NevadaAppeal.com

agriculture News briefs

AGRICULTURE RISK COVERAGE

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nevada Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds farmers and ranchers that they have until Aug. 1 to enroll in Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and/or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2017 crop year.

These programs trigger financial protections for participating agricultural producers when market forces cause substantial drops in crop prices or revenues.

Covered commodities under the programs include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat.

To find your local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

HEALTHY SAGEBRUSH COMMUNITIES

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Sagebrush country is composed of large, intact and mostly treeless landscapes with sagebrush, native grasses and wildflowers. This working landscape is one of the most imperiled in the United States. At one time, it spread over 240,000 square miles, but today has shrunk to almost half.

Across the West, ranchers are stepping up to voluntarily conserve habitat for sage grouse while also benefiting sagebrush communities, local rural economies, working ranches, wildlife, soil and rangeland health.

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), through its Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI), is there to empower ranchers to make well-balanced improvements on their ranching operations that are good for wildlife living in sagebrush country, as well as their businesses' bottom lines.

To highlight the different ways ranchers can help, as well as the many benefits of conservation work, NRCS introduces a new "Healthy Sagebrush Communities" digital poster, available for download now. It's also viewable as part of a multimedia story.

To learn more about the different topics highlighted, such as prescribed grazing or conifer removal, check out our clickable version of the poster with links to resources.

The poster features a globe that shows how voluntary conservation measures—like conserving mesic meadows, keeping large working ranches intact and operating through easements, using prescribed grazing, and marking fences—can improve wildlife habitat and agricultural operations across sagebrush range.

At the top of the globe, a sage grouse holds a large umbrella sheltering mule deer and songbirds on an intact working landscape. This illustration reminds us that we look at the sage grouse as an "umbrella species," meaning conservation efforts for sage grouse also benefit 350 other species of plants, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals inhabiting the sagebrush sea.

The poster features some of the threats to the sagebrush ecosystem, as well as solutions for improving native rangelands. For instance, encroaching conifers and invasive grasses both degrade habitat and heighten the risk of wildfire. Studies show that sage grouse avoid nesting near conifer trees, which provide perches for predatory birds. Additionally, research shows that an open sagebrush landscape without encroaching conifers keeps water on the land longer for birds and herds.

Ranchers play a crucial role in keeping sagebrush communities healthy and are making a real difference by working with partners to address threats to range health. Since 2010, nearly 1,500 ranchers have stepped forward to conserve 5.6 million acres. This includes:

Using prescribed grazing on 3.6 million acres to improve native rangelands and wildlife habitat;

Fighting invasive grasses on 2.5 million acres, which helps prevent wildfire;

Removing encroaching conifers from 555,000 acres;

Protecting 552,000 acres of land from the risk of development and cultivation through conservation easements;

Restoring and protecting 12,000 acres of mesic meadows, the wet habitats where sage grouse raise their chicks; and

Marking 741 miles of fences, which prevents collisions.

RURAL ELECTRIC LOANS

USDA is providing more than $250,000 in loans for rural electric infrastructure improvements.

The loans are being provided through the Rural Utilities Service Electric Program, which is the successor to the Rural Electrification Administration. It makes loans and loan guarantees to cooperatives, corporations, states, territories, subdivisions, municipalities, utility districts and non-profit organizations to help finance the construction of electric distribution and generation facilities in rural areas.

More information about the Rural Utilities Service Electric Program is available online at https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/electric-infrastructure-loan-loan-guarantee-program.

The loans will support the construction or improvement of 1,369 miles of transmission and distribution line. They include $22.4 million for smart grid technologies to increase system efficiency and reliability. Smart Grid increases the reliability of electric power by helping utilities better manage power needs and supply, and improve operational efficiencies. It includes metering, substation automation, computer applications, two-way communications, geospatial information systems and other improvements.

FSA COUNTY COMMITTEES

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that the nomination period for local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees begins on Wednesday, June 15, 2017.

County committees are made up of farmers and ranchers elected by other producers in their communities to guide the delivery of farm programs at the local level. Committee members play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of FSA. Committees consist of three to 11 members and meet once a month or as needed to make important decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs, county office employment and other agricultural issues.

Members serve three-year terms. Nationwide there are over 7,700 farmer and ranchers serving on FSA county committees.

Farmers and ranchers may nominate themselves or others. Organizations, including those representing beginning, women and minority producers, may also nominate candidates to better serve their communities. To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in an agency administered program, and reside in the local administrative area where the election is being held.

After the nomination period, candidates will encourage the eligible producers in their local administrative area to vote. FSA will mail election ballots to eligible voters beginning Nov. 6. Ballots will be due back to the local county office either via mail or in person by Dec. 4. Newly-elected committee members and alternates will take office on Jan. 1.

To become a candidate, an eligible individual must sign an FSA-669A nomination form. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections. All nomination forms for the 2017 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by Aug. 1.

Locate your local office at https://offices.usda.gov and visit to get more information.

community facilities program

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Wednesday announced that USDA is seeking applications for technical assistance and training grants in the Community Facilities program.

The grants are being provided through the Community Facilities Technical Assistance and Training Grant Program. Congress authorized this new program in the 2014 Farm Bill to help rural communities develop their applications for Community Facilities loans and grants.

Interested applicants may find more information about this program on page 23525 of the May 23, 2017, Federal Register. Applicants in Nevada may also contact Community Facilities Program Director Cheryl Couch at 775-887-1222 Ext. 113 or by email at Cheryl.couch@nv.usda.gov

Communities can use the grants to hire specialized personnel, pay for feasibility studies, retain consultants to prepare financial assistance applications and identify and plan for long-term community facilities needs.

Providing technical assistance will help more rural communities qualify for loans and grants. Many often lack access to specialized personnel who complete financial and environmental analyses, for example. These analyses often must be included in applications for USDA loans and grants.

Public bodies, non-profit organizations and Federally-recognized Tribes are eligible to apply for this funding. The maximum grant is $150,000.

Community Facilities programs help underserved rural communities develop essential community services, which in turn helps attract investments, create and retain jobs and businesses, and retain residents.

FARM STORAGE FACILITY LOANS

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini has announced that the Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program, which provides low-interest financing to producers to build or upgrade storage facilities, will now include dairy, flowers and meats as eligible commodities.

To learn more about the FSA Farm Storage Facility Loan, visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/pricesupport or contact a local FSA county office.

Find your local FSA county office at http://offices.usda.gov.

The loans are designed to assist a diverse range of farming operations, including small and mid-sized businesses, new farmers, operations supplying local food and farmers markets, nontraditional farm products and underserved producers.

GRANGE LOOKING FOR MEMBERS

Do you have youth ages 5 and up who are looking to get involved? Do they want to learn leadership skills, have a opportunity to make a difference, serve the community and become role models?

A Grange is now chartered in Fallon and would like you to join the team. For information email goatdiva@yahoo.com.
The focus initially will be to provide opportunities for children and young adults of Churchill County to engage in community activities. The members of the Grange are going to start both a Junior and a Youth program to provide different enrichment activities and teaching community activities to the youth in our community.

"We want to give the young kids in the area something fun to do and show them how they can work together to make their community better by giving back," said Gloria Montero. "We want to teach them about farming, livestock, and community service.

The Grange is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, fraternal organization with more than 80,000 members across the United States. More than 2,100 Granges contribute millions of volunteer hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to our hometowns each year.

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