Conservation issues top PCG priority

Through it all, however, PCG continues to juggle the development and implementation issues surrounding the new farm program and conservation programs with a continued effort to gain passage of a 2000-2001 crop disaster package and the many other day-to-day issues that are out there.

The result of the FSRI Act's investment in conservation is a significant increase in funding for conservation programs with the goal of increasing the "on-farm" impacts of conservation spending.

In an effort to insure that High Plains cotton producers are able to fully participate in the new programs, Plains Cotton Growers has been taking an active role in the development of the rules and regulations that will govern operation of the new programs.

At the top of PCG's Conservation To-Do list are revamping older programs like the Environmental Quality Improvement Program (EQIP) to get the most out of significantly increasing budget allocations throughout the life of the FSRI Act.

PCG is working closely with State and National Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) staff to communicate producer needs and priorities so that quickly changing rules do not inadvertently cause the area to miss out on participation opportunities.

Perhaps even more exciting, however, is the potential impact of the new Conservation Security Program (CSP).

Originally put forth as the basis for an alternative Farm Program, the CSP found its way into the FSRI Act as a stand-alone Conservation program open to every farm and ranch operation in the nation.

In fact, the CSP program outlined in the farm bill could be an excellent opportunity to open another valuable income stream for producers without a lot of extra investment.

This is possible because the CSP was intended to reward producers who are already incorporating conservation practices and realizing conservation benefits.

In an effort to stay ahead of the curve during development of the CSP, PCG brought NRCS representatives from the Texas and Washington offices to the High Plains less than one month after the signing of the farm bill.

That visit was the beginning of many discussions about how to make sure this area can fully participate in the program and accomplish the conservation goals of the CSP.

PCG representatives will be traveling to St. Louis, Nov. 12 to participate in the "National Conference on Farm Bill Conservation Opportunities" sponsored by the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) and the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC).

The conference will include informative presentations by USDA NRCS Chief Bruce Knight, and USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins, and Chuck Conner, Special Assistant to the President for Agriculture.

It is hoped that during the conference additional discussions can take place and feedback provided regarding the implementation of the CSP and the regulations that will govern it.

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