News

Congress Attempts to Negotiate Highway Transportation Spending

Despite the uncertainty of the November 3 election, key committees in Congress are preparing to present their funding recommendations for next year. Infrastructure programs see a mixed bag of funding levels.

And More Policy Outreach on Climate Change...

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Energy Project focuses on developing pragmatic, evidence-based energy and climate policies to achieve meaningful progress toward a low-carbon future. Natural carbon removal by farm and forest lands is emerging as a critical component of legislative efforts to address climate change.

Illinois EQIP 2021 Application Deadline Established

Champaign, IL, November 19, 2020 –Look to the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for conservation assistance on agricultural and forestland. Ivan Dozier, Illinois NRCS State Conservationist explains, “NRCS has a long history of conservation planning with agricultural producers and forestry managers. We have the technical knowledge to develop a conservation plan for your resource concerns and NRCS has conservation programs that are available to implement that plan.”

 

The primary financial assistance program is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural and forestland producers. To participate, producers can apply for EQIP throughout the year; however, Illinois NRCS has established an application deadline for January 8, 2021. Producers are encouraged to submit an application by the application deadline if they are interested in the program.

NRCS Announces EQIP Application Cutoff Date for NW Illinois Driftless Area

Champaign, IL, November 19, 2020 – State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced that the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer funding to help improve fish and wildlife habitat on cropland, forests, streams and prairies in northwestern Illinois through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  NRCS has partnered with Trout Unlimited to help producers address resource concerns such as wildlife habitat, water quality and soil health. Landowners can apply for assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to implement practices such as stream and shoreline protection, cover crops, and grassed waterways. The project focus is to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, and improve wildlife habitat in portions of the following six counties: Boone, Carroll, Jo Daviess, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago.      

NRCS Announces 2021 Application Cutoff Date for Landscape Initiatives in Illinois

Champaign, IL — State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced that the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer funding for the following Landscape Initiatives throughout the state:  Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), and the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI).  Producers who have agricultural or pastureland in an Initiative project area can apply for assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to implement a range of conservation practices that will improve water quality, decrease soil erosion, and improve wildlife habitat.

NRCS Announces 2021 EQIP Application Cutoff Date for Otter Lake Source Water Protection Project

Champaign, IL, November 19, 2020 –State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced that the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer funding in Macoupin, Morgan, and Sangamon Counties for the Otter Lake Source Water Protection project through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS has partnered with Illinois Corn Growers Association to help producers address resource concerns such as degraded water quality and soil erosion. Producers can apply for assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to implement practices such as denitrifying bioreactors, saturated buffers, cover crops, nutrient management, and no-till. The project focus is to improve water quality in the Otter Lake Watershed located in portions of Macoupin, Morgan, and Sangamon Counties.

NRCS Announces 2021 EQIP Application Cutoff Date for IL Headwaters Conservation Partnership

Champaign, IL, November 19, 2020 –State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced that the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer funding to control invasive plants in forest stands in east-central Illinois through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS has partnered with the Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the Headwaters Invasive Plant Partnership (HIPP) to help producers address resource concerns such as water quality and soil health. 

NRCS Announces 2021 EQIP Cutoff Date for Upper Macoupin Creek Watershed Project

Champaign, IL, November 19, 2020 – State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced that the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer funding in Macoupin County for the Upper Macoupin Creek Watershed project through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS has partnered with American Farmland Trust to help producers address resource concerns such as degraded water quality and soil erosion. Producers can apply for assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to implement practices such as drainage water management, denitrifying bioreactors, cover crops, nutrient management, and no-till. The project focus is to improve water quality in the Upper Macoupin Creek Watershed located in portions of Macoupin County.

Register for VIRTUAL 2021 Conservation Cropping Seminars

Don’t miss information about ways farmers like yourself can improve soil health, learn about cover crops, remain profitable—and even more marketable—by using sustainable techniques that build up natural resilience to weather extremes, pests, and weeds. Learn from educators, researchers, experts, and local Illinois farmers! There will be Question & Answer sessions as well.

USDA Announces Updated Conservation Practice Standards

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has completed and published updates to its set of National Conservation Practice Standards, which include 58 standards that have been updated or revised since August. The 2018 Farm Bill required USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to review all 169 of its national conservation practices to seek opportunities to increase flexibility and incorporate new technologies.

New Positions Filled at Illinois NRCS State Office

State Conservationist Ivan Dozier welcomes two new members to the Leadership Team at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Office facility in Champaign, Illinois. Winnie Chen works as the Assistant State Conservationist for Wetland and Conservation Compliance and Matt Robert is the new State Conservation Engineer.

Farmers Encouraged to Keep the Stubble During No-Till November

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is encouraging Illinois farmers to “keep the stubble” on their harvested crop fields and improve soil health during No-Till November.

USDA Identifies Priority Watersheds in Mississippi River Basin

USDA on Thursday identified 379 watersheds in the Mississippi River basin as priority watersheds to help farmers and landowners reduce nutrient runoff related to hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

LICA participated in a call with USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation Under Secretary Bill Northey and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Acting Chief Kevin Norton on the Environmental Quality Incentives Program final rule. 

President Promotes Better Water Management

President Trump has signed an executive order to create a water subcabinet that USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey says will make it easier for farmers to be successful.  Northey says “water is critical to farming and the success of Rural America.”

The EPA says the subcabinet will promote effective and efficient water resources management, develop a national water strategy, protect taxpayer investments and improve water infrastructure and support workforce development of water sector professionals.

ISAP Releases Fact Sheet Highlighting Carbon Farming Opportunities!

This guide, developed by the ISAP Science Advisory Committee, serves to introduce farmers to financial opportunities available for implementing practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, summarizing minimum requirements and payments from traditional financial assistance programs side-by-side with market-based approaches.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced up to $30 million is available in technical and financial assistance through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP) to help conservation partners protect and restore critical wetlands on agricultural lands in Illinois.

New Pilot Program to Show Farmers the Benefit of Conservation

The Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC), Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA), Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), and GROWMARK are launching an ESMC pilot project in Illinois to generate quantified, verified, certified greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and improved water quality credits from agriculture. 

USDA Seeks New Partnerships to Safeguard, Restore Wetland Ecosystems

WASHINGTON, October 5, 2020 – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced up to $30 million is available in technical and financial assistance through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP) to help conservation partners protect and restore critical wetlands on agricultural lands.

Construction Spending on the Rise

Construction Officials Caution that Demand for Non-Residential Construction Will Continue to Stagnate without New Federal Coronavirus Recovery Measures, Including Infrastructure and Liability Reform.

LICA Briefed on Conservation Stewardship Program Final Rule

LICA joined other industry stakeholders in a briefing by USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation Under Secretary Bill Northey and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Acting Chief Kevin Norton on the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) final rule.

NACD Testifies on Conservation Program Outlook

Tim Palmer, President of the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), recently shared with Congress the challenges and successes of conservation programs in the pandemic environment. Palmer owns and operates a farm near Truro, Iowa.

University of Illinois Receives Almost $1 Million for Algal Bloom Research

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $999,377 in funding to the University of Illinois to research how to control and prevent harmful algal blooms (HABs). Specifically, the research will address subsurface drainage systems that can deliver large quantities of nutrients from agricultural fields to receiving watersheds, potentially leading to HABs.

USDA Awards Nearly $500K to Support Wetland Mitigation Banking in Illinois

Champaign, IL, September 30, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced it will award $498,010 for a new wetland mitigation banking project in Illinois through the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program.

Coronavirus and Trade Challenge Parts Supply

Government officials are paying keen attention to challenges facing contractors and farmers to secure needed parts as the harvest and colder temperatures arrive.

USDA Publishes Final Rule On Highly Erodible Land

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has finalized some changes to how it determines whether land is highly erodible or a wetland, in the process “clarifying how wetland hydrology is identified for farmed wetlands and farmed wetland pasture,” the service reported recently.

Deeper dives into drainage water management could help reduce nutrient runoff

Which cutting-edge nutrient stewardship practice requires a typography map, gates on drainage tile and knowledge of your soil profile? If you thought of the term drainage water management (DWM), you’d be on the right track.

The benefits of updating agricultural drainage infrastructure

Massive networks of drains, pipes and tiles that enable food production on much of the world's most productive cropland are due for expansion and replacement to meet the demands of agricultural intensification and climate change. How that infrastructure is updated will have enormous consequences on food production and the environment, according to a new study.

State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Illinois is inviting potential conservation partners to submit project applications for federal funding through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). 

FMCSA CDL Extension Reminder

The FMCSA extended a waiver this week that now gives drivers until September 30, 2020 to renew their commercial driver’s licenses, commercial learner’s permits and medical cards. This extension will only apply to those whose CDL, CLP or medical card expired on or after March 1.

New Sexual Harassment Training Requirements

​Public Act 101-0221 amends the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) requiring that all Illinois employers must provide employees annual sexual harassment prevention training by December 31, 2020 and annually thereafter.

Larger-Than-Average ‘Dead Zone’ Expected for Gulf of Mexico

NOAA scientists are forecasting this summer’s Gulf of Mexico hypoxic area or “dead zone” – an area of low to no oxygen that can kill fish and other marine life – to be approximately 6,700 square miles, larger than the long-term average measured size of 5,387 square miles but substantially less than the record of 8,776 square miles set in 2017.

OSHA Issues Guidance to Help Construction Workers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a webpage with coronavirus-related guidance for construction employers and workers. The guidance includes recommended actions to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

Papers Published by the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation Provide Evidence that USDA Conservation Practices Work

 Conservation practices are working to reduce runoff, improve soil quality, and mitigate contaminants in small watersheds across the country, according to USDA’s scientific findings published yesterday in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation.

Denitrifying Bioreactor Woodchip Recharge: Media Properties after Nine Years

There is a lack of information on denitrifying bioreactors treating subsurface drainage water at the end of their initial design life due to the relative newness of the technology and the relatively long estimated life. A denitrifying bioreactor (15 m L x 7.6 m W x 1.1 m D) installed in August 2008 in Greene County, Iowa, was recharged with new woodchips in November 2017 (age 9.25 years), providing the opportunity to evaluate the properties of the wood media at the end of design life.

Keegan Kutemeier Selected As One of the National LICA Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to Keegan Kutemeier of Gibson City for receiving one of the 2020 National LICA scholarships!!!

The Latest Research From The NREC Is Now Available!

Funded by Illinois farmers and retailers, the 2019 Illinois NREC Annual Report is now available. This important summary captures the key takeaways from projects ranging from cover crops to biochar used to address excess Phosphorus.

Multifunctional Perennial Filter Strips

The Gulf of Mexico Task Force has obligated the development of action plans by the 12 contributing states in the Mississippi River Basin to reduce the loss of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) to the Gulf by 45%. With this, I llinois published the "Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy" in 2015 (State of Illinois, 2015). This strategy identified priority watersheds for nutrient loss reduction efforts and outlined the alternative scenarios necessary to achieve the target reduction from both point and nonpoint (agricultural) sources. The agricultural practices i nclude nutrient management, cover crops, reduced tillage, and edgeof-field practices.

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