Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Funds available for landowners through Conservation Programs

“I am very proud of the conservation work being done throughout the Dugdemona Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)”, stated James Shivers, NRCS District Conservationist for Caldwell and Jackson parishes.
SWCDs are an important link in local, state, federal and private cooperation in all conservation and natural resource projects. SWCDs operate at the local grassroots level. Resource concerns must be determined at this level. We must identify the resource needs of each community. Louisiana is a diverse state, natural resources concerns should be assessed and prioritized on the local level if they are to be successful.

We have seen tremendous efforts being made to put conservation on the ground throughout Caldwell, Jackson and Winn parishes. During the past three years, $2,081,667 was invested by state and federal sources to conserve and protect natural resources in the Dugdemona Soil and Water Conservation District.

Currently the state is contributing $2.3 million annually for the State Soil and Water Conservation Program which is helping SWCD’s to leverage over $108 million in USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service funds.

These conservation programs encourage land users to adopt a comprehensive approach in solving natural resource and environmental concerns. Louisiana’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts, through its conservation partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) work together to distribute millions of dollars in federal conservation cost-sharing funding to Louisiana landowners and producers.

These programs are available through the conservation provisions in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill) provides voluntary conservation opportunities for Louisiana farmers and ranchers. Conservation programs will have a beneficial impact on the adoption of conservation practices. These practices when installed or applied to technical standards will increase net farm income. Voluntary programs will not impose any obligation or burden upon agricultural producers that choose not to participate.

Joshua Peterson is a Jackson Parish livestock producer interested in improving multiple resource concerns on his property through implementation of specific conservation practices. Mr. Peterson has participated in the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) during 2003, 2005 & 2006. His farming operation consists of over 24 acres of pasture and 7 acres of farmstead. He runs cattle on the 24 acres of pasture and has four broiler houses on the farmstead.

The broiler chicken production facility produces over 90,000 broilers per flock with approximately 6 flocks per year. Several resource concerns were addressed by developing and maintaining a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) annually on Mr. Peterson’s property. The benefit of a CNMP is to inform and assist the producer in treating the handling, collection, storage, treatment, and land application of animal waste products. This is especially important to poultry producers whose byproducts of the farming operation: poultry litter (nutrient issues) and poultry mortality (disease and nutrient issues) poses certain resource concerns such as soil, water, and air quality.
Under EQIP, Mr. Peterson has benefitted on his poultry operation by constructing a Waste Storage Facility, a Composting Facility and received a cost share incentive for proper nutrient management. In striving to be proactive in taking care of the land, Mr. Peterson has enrolled the 24 acres of pasture in EQIP. He has incorporated 1850 ft of pipeline, 4600 feet of fence, 4 Watering Facilities, and 4 Heavy Use Area Protection Pads on his cattle operation to enhance multiple resource concerns such as: animal health, plant health and vigor, water quantity and quality. Josh is currently working to achieve his certification in the Master Farmer Program.

“There is no other agency that has the cooperator and landowner trust that SWCDs have developed over the years. SWCDs provide landowners with leadership, education, and technical assistance through conservation planning and programs to assist in solving the needs to conserve sustain and improve the soil, water, and other natural resources with conservation measures on their land” stated Shivers.

For more information on the conservation programs available to local landowners and how it may help you and your operation in Jackson Parish visit the NRCS Ruston Field Office at 1803 Trade Drive in Ruston or contact us at (318) 255- 3136 extension 3; for Winn Parish visit the NRCS Natchitoches Field Office at 6949 LA Hwy 1 Bypass in Natchitoches or contact us at (318) 357- 8366 extension 3; for Caldwell Parish visit the NRCS Columbia Field Office at 7128 Hwy 165 South in Columbia or contact us at (318) 649-2651 extension 3; or visit the Dugdemona SWCD at 301 West Main Street, Suite 210 (upstairs in the Winn Parish Health Unit Building) or contact us at (318) 628-4435 or visit our website at

All programs and services of the U.S. Department of Agriculture are offered on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, marital status, or disability.

(James Shivers is the NRCS District Conservationist for Caldwell Parish and Acting District Conservationist for Jackson Parish working with the Dugdemona SWCD in “Helping People Help the Land”. He is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University with an undergraduate degree in Agribusiness and a Master’s degree in business Administration and has been involved in natural resources and agriculture throughout his career.)