LICA Legislative/Regulatory Priorities Established
National LICA has developed a set of legislative and regulatory priorities to guide our efforts this year. The Executive Committee has reviewed and discussed the priorities and looks forward to continuing the dialogue on these issues with other LICA members and most importantly, government and elected officials.
The Biden administration is increasing payment rates and offering new financial incentives in a bid to spur landowners to enroll 4 million more acres into the Conservation Reserve Program.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the plan this week in a meeting of the administration’s climate task force on the eve of the global climate summit, according to a readout provided by the White House.
State highway officials shared their views this week with a Senate committee reviewing funding options for long term highway and bridge investment. State officials noted that there has been no increase in the federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993. Alongside improvements over the last few decades in fuel efficiency, increased use of alternative fuel vehicles, the loss of fuel tax purchasing power, and the ever-growing costs of maintaining the nation’s transportation network, “there is recognition that our current funding model is not sustainable” to keep pace with long-term system needs.
Climate Bill Would Expand USDA Stewardship Programs
The USDA would double the size of the Conservation Reserve, the government’s largest land-idling program, as part of supporting land stewardship on 100 million acres of farmland under companion bills filed in the House and Senate on Monday. Democrats Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Abigail Spanberger, the sponsors, compared the legislation to New Deal programs to help farmers and combat soil loss during the Dust Bowl.
Illinois State Funded Programs Need to Fill in Gaps
The interim goals of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, or NLRS, are to reduce 15% of nitrate-nitrogen losses and 25% total phosphorus losses to streams and rivers by 2025. A large part of getting to those goals means rapidly scaling up the kinds of regenerative farming practices that help reduce erosion, increase carbon sequestration, and promote soil health.
LICA Joins Support For Congress to Fund Technical Assistance
LICA joined over 70 organizations in a letter to Congress calling for robust discretionary funding and support for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field staff through the Conservation Operations and Conservation Technical Assistance programs.
The letter emphasizes that technical assistance is essential for the delivery of conservation support for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners across the country by providing capacity and conservation planning to support conservation practice implementation.
Emerging Drainage Water Recycling Practice Could Improve Yields, Water Quality
Drainage water recycling (DWR) is a drainage management system designed to capture water during wet periods so it can be used later when growing crops are thirsty.
Versions of DWR have been around for years, but adoption has remained limited. Now, interest is growing as the practice is recognized for its potential to improve water quality and help farmers reduce risks from weather volatility.
Global Plastics & Polymers Market Challenges Hit Spring Season
LICA is hearing more and more from members about the continuing price increase and availability of plastics products. The situation is impacting drainage, packaging, bottling, medical supplies…….you name it and if plastics is involved a scramble is underway now for product.
4 Causes for Excavation Accidents and How to Prevent Them
Utility damages are on the rise. According to the Common Ground Alliance’s 2019 DIRT Report, there were 534,151 reported utility damages in the U.S. and Canada in 2019, a 4.5 percent increase since 2018.
The majority of excavation accidents fall into just a few root categories. Read on to learn what these categories are as well as steps utilities can take now to prevent future utility damages.
A roundtable discussion featuring Precision Conservation Management Operation Manager Clay Bess and Director of Water Quality Research at IL Corn Laura Gentry will take place March 31 from 11:00 a.m. – 12 noon.
This hour long discussion will feature questions pre submitted from farmers interested in joining the Precision Conservation Management (PCM) program and what it all entails.
State Conservationist, Ivan Dozier announced the submission deadline for Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) applications to be considered for funding in fiscal year (FY) 2021 is May 7, 2021. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest up to $7.85 million for new CSP contracts in fiscal year 2021 in Illinois.
State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced U. S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer funding in Macoupin County for the Upper Macoupin Creek Watershed using the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS has partnered with American Farmland Trust to help local producers address natural resource concerns, namely degraded water quality and soil erosion.
State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced U. S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer special funding for Precision Conservation Management efforts through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Precision Conservation Management is an innovative service program designed to apply financial farm business planning with precision conservation technology to help farmers make intelligent conservation decisions.
NRCS Announces Application Cutoff for Special Conservation Projects in Marshall-Putnam Counties
State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced U. S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer funding in Marshall and Putnam Counties for the Mississippi River Basin Big Bend Enhancing Water-Soil-Habitat Quality project through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS has partnered with the Marshall-Putnam Soil and Water Conservation District to help producers address resource concerns such as degraded water quality and soil erosion.
USDA Seeks Public Comment on Revised Conservation Practice Standards
“NRCS wants to ensure that the standards used to carry out the conservation practices are relevant to local agricultural, forestry and natural resource needs,” Acting NRCS Chief Terry Cosby said. “We are revising conservation practice standards to make sure they are the best technology and address the needs of producers and the natural resources on their land.”
Infrastructure Struggles Call for Parental Attention
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) unveiled their 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure last week, giving our nation a ‘C-’, up from 2017’s cumulative GPA of ‘D+’. This is the first time since ASCE began issuing the report card that the nation’s infrastructure has received a GPA outside of the D range. See each state report card at
Subsurface “tile” drainage is an essential agricultural water management practice on naturally poorly drained soils in Indiana and throughout much of the Midwest. We have conducted a long-term (35yr) drainage research study at the Southeast Purdue Agricultural Center (SEPAC) on high silt, low organic matter, poorly-structured soils that were not typically tile-drained prior to the 1980s.
Saturated Buffers are Key to Removing Nitrates From Tile Drainage
Lee Tesdell farms 80 acres near Huxley, Iowa, that have been in his family since 1884. To maintain such a legacy, he’s adopted a long-term view of sustainability and strives to make his farm an example of the impact conservation practices have on soil health and water quality.
NRCS State Conservationist, Ivan Dozier announced funding is now available for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program - Agricultural Land Easement (ACEP-ALE) program. Dozier explains that the ALE program can help address development and population pressures that pose a threat to Illinois farmland acres currently used for agricultural production.
The Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Partnership, ISAP, is excited to welcome Illinois Soybean Association and Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition as new members to its current 12-member partnership. The expanded membership advances ISAP’s overall purpose of meeting goals identified in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy and achieving environmental outcomes.
REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — Initial payments are going out to farmers enrolled in Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio Initiative for improved water quality. The first incentive payments will be distributed to 154 farmers for completed and approved Voluntary Nutrient Management Plans (VNMP).
Agriculture, Policy and Conservation Leaders Collaborate on a Path to Accelerate the Use of Edge of Field Practices on U.S. Farmlands
Today, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS), and Meridian Institute launched a Roadmap to accelerate the adoption of edge of field practices on US farmlands. Edge of field practices—like saturated buffers and prairie strips—can help farmers improve water quality, store more carbon in the soil, reduce flooding, support pollinators, and enhance wildlife habitat in working landscapes.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency told lawmakers on Wednesday he will consult with states and other stakeholders as the agency determines how to deliver on the administration’s plans to tackle climate change and clean up pollution hotspots.
BRON Midwest, Inc. is NOW OPEN! Our 24,000 sq/ft facility, strategically located at 610 Main St West, in Le Roy MN, will operate as a full sales, rental, parts, & service dealership. Our new facility also houses an 1,800 sq/ft showroom to showcase BRON products and merchandise. All BRON products and services will be available in Le Roy.
Illinois Residents Value Strategies To Improve Water Quality
Illinois residents value efforts to reduce watershed pollution, and they are willing to pay for environmental improvements, according to a new study from agricultural economists at the University of Illinois.
Nutrient runoff from agricultural production is a major cause of pollution in the Mississippi River Basin and contributes to hypoxia – limited oxygen to support sea life in the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set up action plans to reduce pollution in 12 midwestern states and reduce transmissions of nitrate-nitrogen and phosphorus by 45% in 2040.
USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey told AgriPulse the majority of work on implementing the 2018 farm bill is done as well the heavy lifting for the first two rounds of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program funding for a diverse group of farmers and ranchers across the nation.
State DOTs Receive Last Minute Financial Assistance
State departments of transportation are getting $10 billion in long-awaited emergency aid from a $900 billion COVID – 19 Relief Bill passed by Congress late on December 21 as part of a final year-end legislative package.
The House of Representatives passed the legislative package that included the COVID-19 rescue bill by a vote of 359 to 53, with the Senate passing it by a vote of 92 to 6.
OMAHA (DTN) -- The future remains in flux for the Trump administration's Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), as court cases continue to play out and the potential for yet again more changes to the Clean Water Act remains in play for the next administration.
U of I's 2021 Crop Management Conference Goes Virtual
The 2021 Crop Management Conference is going virtual! CropFlix is binge-worthy content for corn and soybean producers aimed at improving your cropping systems.
CropFlix participants choose from a series of prerecorded programs and watch on demand for the entire month of February on the Learn @ Illinois Extension online learning platform. The conference’s new online format has doubled the number of presenters, with a wide variety of presentations on research updates, recommendations for best practices, climate projections, and more.
Champaign IL, January 4, 2021—Ivan Dozier, State Conservationist, announced the application period for the 2021 Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP-WRE). USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps provide long-term protection of Illinois’ farmland, wetlands and grasslands through ACEP. “The first application cut-off date has been established,” Dozier explains. “Right now we’re accepting applications for Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE). Applications that are received and meet program eligibility by February 5, 2021 will be considered for the 2021 program.
ISA AND IL CORN INVEST IN CONSERVATION VIA THE PCM PROGRAM
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – December 14, 2020 – The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) and Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA) have teamed up to research on-farm conservation practices and the financial implications of their adoption via the Precision Conservation Management (PCM) program.
Farmers care deeply for the lands and waters that sustain their livelihoods and provide a wealth of benefits for all of us. Unfortunately, common agriculture practices inadvertently contribute to significant environmental impacts. For instance, runoff of excess nutrients—like phosphorus and nitrogen—from farm fields degrades the health of waterways, posing a threat to wildlife and drinking water.
Farmers hold the key to helping solve this and other environmental challenges.
Springfield Plastics Presents Simmons Cancer Institute with Large Donation
SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (December 14, 2020) – Springfield Plastics presented Simmons Cancer Institute with a check for $76,151 from their 2020 Drain for the Cure Fundraiser on Monday, December 14 at 11:00am at Simmons Cancer Institute. Springfield Plastics launched their first “Drain for the Cure” campaign in 2014 and since then, has raised more than $400,000 for Simmons Cancer Institute.
The Land Improvement Contractors of America (LICA) continues to operate on all cylinders during these challenging times. Although we did not have a national summer meeting as planned, that has not slowed LICA down.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.