2015 Photo Contest
Are you an amateur photographer who would like a chance to enter your photos in a local, state and nationwide contest? The Coles County SWCD is sponsoring a conservation photo contest. Photos entered will be entered in the state wide Association of Illinois Soil & Water Conservation District Auxiliary Photo Contest. Winners at the state level will then be submitted to the National Association of Conservation Districts photo contest.
Entries are due by March 9, 2015
Illinois Market News Service Offers Free Hay Directory
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Whether buying or selling, the Illinois Department of Agriculture can help consumers who are in the market for hay.
Since 2007, its Market News Service has offered an internet-based Hay Directory, an interactive website for buyers and sellers of hay and straw to post ads and fill their needs. The directory is located on the department’s website, www.agr.state.il.us, under “Consumers” at the top of the homepage.
“The site contains leads to help producers find supplies of alfalfa, alfalfa-mixed and grass hay,” Market News reporter Jerry Millburg said. “Supplies of wheat straw also can be found on the hay directory, and even supplies of organic hay and straw.”
The directory is free and easy to use. Producers who have hay or straw to sell, for example, just need to click on the “List an Ad” button. The site then will lead them through the process of creating an individualized ad that can be revised at any time.
Buyers have the option of either responding directly to an ad posted on the site or creating a listing of their own announcing their intention to buy.
“This directory is a valuable resource, especially when hay is in short supply,” Agriculture Director Bob Flider said. “The directory gives producers a place to turn when they can’t find a local supplier.”
USDA Announces Programs to Conserve Sensitive Land and Help Beginning Farmers
Programs that Allow Producers to Protect Land and Help New, Minority and Veteran Farmers Get their Start in Agriculture
WASHINGTON, June 4, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that farmers, ranchers and landowners committed to protecting and conserving environmentally sensitive land may now sign up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The Secretary also announced that retiring farmers enrolled in CRP could receive incentives to transfer a portion of their land to beginning, disadvantaged or veteran farmers through the Transition Incentives Program (TIP).
“CRP is one of the largest voluntary conservation programs in the country,” said Vilsack. “This initiative helps farmers and ranchers lead the nation in preventing soil erosion, improving water quality and restoring wildlife habitat, all of which will make a difference for future generations.”
Vilsack continued, “The average age of farmers and ranchers in the United States is 58 years, and twice as many are 65 or older compared to those 45 or younger. The cost of buying land is one of the biggest barriers to many interested in getting started in agriculture. The Transition Incentives Program is very useful as we work to help new farmers and ranchers get started.”
The Conservation Reserve Program provides incentives to producers who utilize conservation methods on environmentally-sensitive lands. For example, farmers are monetarily compensated for establishing long-term vegetative species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”) to control soil erosion, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat.
CRP consists of a “continuous” and “general” sign-up period. Continuous sign up for the voluntary program starts June 9. Under continuous sign-up authority, eligible land can be enrolled in CRP at any time with contracts of up to 10 to 15 years in duration. In lieu of a general sign-up this year, USDA will allow producers with general CRP contracts expiring this September to have the option of a one-year contract extension. USDA will also implement the 2014 Farm Bill’s requirement that producers enrolled through general sign-up for more than five years can exercise the option to opt-out of the program if certain other conditions are met. In addition, the new grassland provisions, which will allow producers to graze their enrolled land, will enable producers to do so with more flexibility.
The Transition Incentives Program provides two additional years of payments for retired farmers and ranchers who transition expiring CRP acres to socially disadvantaged, military veteran, or beginning producers who return the land to sustainable grazing or crop production. Sign up will also begin June 9. TIP funding was increased by more than 30 percent in the 2014 Farm Bill, providing up to $33 million through 2018.
As part of the 2014 Farm Bill, participants meeting specific qualifications may have the opportunity to terminate their CRP contract during fiscal year 2015 if the contract has been in effect for a minimum of five years and if other conditions are also met.
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers CRP, will coordinate the various CRP program opportunities. For more information on CRP and other FSA programs, visit a local FSA county office or go online to http://www.fsa.usda.gov/.
Both the CRP and TIP were reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).
Why plant a rain garden?
A rain garden is a shallow depression that is planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses. The garden should be positioned near a runoff source like a downspout, or driveway to capture rainwater runoff and stop the water and pollutants from reaching the sewer system.
Storm water (rain or melting snow) runs off roofs, driveways and other impervious surfaces. This water flows directly to streets, down the storm drains and right into rivers and lakes. Storm water runoff is untreated and carries pollutants like oil, salt, fertilizer, pesticides, pet waste, transportation chemicals, and soil sediment into water sources.
Rain gardens capture runoff carrying pollutants that contaminate our waterways. The water then infiltrates deep into the ground so that it can be used by the nearby plants. Native plants have deep roots that help to soak up the water, break up hard soil, and permeate water and nutrients deep into the soil.
In addition of the improvement in water quality, rain gardens also provide habitat for birds and beneficial insects, reduce pest and harmful insects, and can be used to teach children and adults about the water quality practices.
The Coles Co. SWCD is selling a large variety of native plants through May 16th that can be used to create a rain garden through May 16. Order forms are available at the office located at 6021 Development Drive, Charleston, Illinois. In addition of native plants, resources are also available to assist landowners with planning a rain garden. The Coles Co. SWCD is open Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm. You can contact the office at 217 345-3901 ext. 3.