News Digest

FSA committee nomimees sought

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that the nomination period for local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees begins Sunday, June 15.

“County committees are a vital link between the farm community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” Vilsack said in a press release announcing the nomination period. “I hope that every eligible farmer and rancher will participate in this year’s county committee elections. Through the county committees, farmers and ranchers have a voice; their opinions and ideas get to be heard on federal farm programs.”

Vilsack added, “We’ve seen an increase in the number of nominations of women and minority candidates, and I hope that trend continues.”

To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in a program administered by FSA, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area where the person is nominated.

Farmers and ranchers may nominate themselves or others. Organizations representing minorities and women also may nominate candidates. To become a candidate, an eligible individual must sign the nomination form, FSA-669A. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections.

KiddyKeys offered in Plymouth

Plymouth School District Community Education and Recreation is offering a pre-piano class for children ages 3 to 5.

KiddyKeys introduces the basics: high and low, piano and forte (soft and loud), finger numbers, “bubble” hands and a little about Mozart. Class will meet with instructor Louise Mann from 1:45 to 2:15 p.m. Tuesdays from June 24 to Aug. 5 (except July 15) at Plymouth High School; the fee is $30 until June 13, then $35.

Visit www.plymouth.k12.wi.us/COM.html for more information about this class and others offered this summer, as well as a printable registration form that can be mailed to Community Ed & Rec. Online registration also is available; this option, which carries a $4 service charge, allows people to pay with a credit card and also to receive immediate confirmation of enrollment.

For more information, email commedrec@plymouth.k12.wi.us, call (920) 892-5068, or stop by the Community Ed & Rec office on the north end of Plymouth High School, 125 Highland Ave.

Conservation programs offered

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has 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).

The Conservation Reserve Program provides incentives to producers who utilize conservation methods on environmentally-sensitive lands. For example, farmers are monetarily compensated for establishing longterm 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 started 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 also began 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 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.


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