At the 2014 Farm Bill’s six-month update, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack commended the bill’s implementation throughout the nation. Locally, the Natural Resources Conservation Service echoed Vilsack’s sentiments by expressing how their conservation efforts are thriving with the funds that have been made available by the bill.
Diana Waller, District Conservationist with NRCS, says that under the conservation title of the Farm Bill, NRCS is on track for implementing many conservation programs for 2014. These authorized programs directly impact Stanislaus County farmers and ranchers and indirectly benefit all county residents by helping to conserve shared natural resources.
“We partner with local farmers to create programs with environmental benefits and conservational value,” said Waller. “We provide technical and financial assistance to farmers and ranchers throughout the county.”
An agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, NRCS offers a wide variety of assistance for community members in Stanislaus County, especially farmers and ranchers.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, provides farmers with a conservation plan that will improve both water and air quality. With the farmers' vested interest, EQIP will also provide financial assistance that can cover approximately half of necessary expenses.
Examples of this program include partnerships with dairy producers to manage nutrients on their farms and replacing the high pollutant engines of older farm equipment with cleaner burning alternatives.
Other uses of this program benefit the protection of natural resources from degradation, conservation of ground and surface water, and reduction of soil erosion and sedimentation.
Kevin and Ryan Blount of K&R Blount Dairy in Crows Landing have experienced firsthand the positive effects of the 2014 Farm Bill. The father and son duo have partnered with NRCS in order to tackle water quality and air quality issues in order to make their dairy healthy and sustainable.
“I’ve been working very closely with NRCS,” said Kevin Blount. “There are a lot of conservation techniques I couldn’t have afforded without them.”
With the assistance of NRCS and EQIP, K&R Blount Dairy has received the conservation planning and financial assistance they need in order to protect natural resources, while also maximizing production values.
An example of how NRCS has been working with Blount is the dairy’s incorporation of concrete slabs underneath feed and manure. The concrete has been successfully implemented to prevent seepage from stockpiled manure and silage, which could potentially contaminate groundwater.
NRCS also helped Blount install a tailwater recover system on his dairy, which helps him recycle water through the dairy’s fields by collecting, storing, and transporting irrigation tailwater for reuse in a farm irrigation distribution system.
K&R Blount Dairy and many other farmers and ranchers all over California have taken advantage of NRCS’s benefits in order to protect and restore natural resources that are in their care. If agricultural producers are willing to take a vested interest to address resource concerns, NRCS is ready to create a conservation plan and develop a partnership to help them.
For more information on NRCS and what they do for farmers and ranchers throughout California, visit nrcs.usda.gov.