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Conservation Clip List is a weekly collection of articles distributed by NACD that provides our members and partners with the latest news in what's driving conservation. If you have a relevant submission, please contact your NACD Communications Team.
USDA announces new conservation opportunities via Agri-Pulse
USDA is offering farmers and ranchers new opportunities to participate in the Conservation Reserve Program, including new techniques to protect water quality and adding 1.1 million acres to a number of key CRP practices. Secretary Vilsack unveiled a new conservation initiative known as Clean Lakes, Estuaries, and Rivers (CLEAR), which will add new tools to CRP that can help to improve water quality. USDA said CLEAR will help landowners with the cost of building bioreactors and saturated buffers that filter nitrates and other nutrients from tile-drained cropland.
Trump Taps Pruitt to Head EPA via DTN Progressive Farmer
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is President-elect Donald Trump's selection to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt led a number of states in filing one of many lawsuits against EPA challenging the WOTUS rule as an unconstitutional power grab. A federal court put the rule on hold nationally pending a number of legal challenges. It is widely believed the Trump administration would eliminate the rule.
Several thousand snow geese have died after a snowstorm forced large flocks to take refuge in the acidic, metal-laden waters of an old open pit mine in Montana. Typically, Butte sees between 2,000 and 5,000 birds all year, including spring and water migration. The estimated death toll is based on drone and aircraft flights over the pit, which holds about 45bn gallons (175bn liters) of water.
Climate Change Will Bring Wetter Storms in U.S., Study Says via The New York Times
A new study shows that intense precipitation will most likely increase across the continental United States, but with important regional variations. The biggest increase would be in the Northeast and the Gulf Coast. In fact, the study shows that these intense storms could become five times as frequent. And when they do happen, there could be up to 70 percent more rain, potentially turning a heavy but not catastrophic storm into something closer to a biblical flood. It might seem as though big rainstorms would help alleviate drought in the Midwest or elsewhere, but the opposite can actually be true. If a heavy rainstorm occurs during a drought, it can lead to soil erosion, washing away the plants that help the soil absorb moisture.
Data shows most American farms are still family farms via Food Safety News
After all these years, agriculture in America remains overwhelmingly dominated by family farms. A new report by USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) shows not only just how dependent America is on family farms, but also how many are independent of government. Family farms of various types together account for 99 percent of all farms, and those account for 89 percent of the production as of 2015.
(Opinion) The costs and benefits of many regulations are alarmingly unbalanced, and reducing the regulatory burden judiciously could be good news not only for consumers, but also for a number of R&D sectors with the capacity to produce the Next Big Thing. While a handful of huge agribusiness companies are able to cope with and have benefitted from excessive regulation, agricultural scientists and smaller companies have become discouraged by the excessively burdensome regulatory costs. The result has been a brake on agricultural innovation, which is evident from the fact that the vast majority of acreage of genetically engineered crops is huge-volume commodity crops, while “specialty crops” such as fruits, nuts, and vegetables have been largely ignored.
Obama administration halts Dakota Access Pipeline via Agri-Pulse
The U. S. Army announced that it will not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota. The decision was based on a need to explore alternate routes for the Dakota Access Pipeline crossing. The consideration of alternative routes would be best accomplished through an Environmental Impact Statement with full public input and analysis. Tribal officials have expressed concerns that a pipeline rupture or spill could harm its water supply and treaty rights.
Christmas Trees Are Dying From Drought via The Huffington Post
The nation’s farmers have been especially hard hit by the dry spell. Crops have failed, livestock has had to be sold and farmers have been struggling to keep the iconic Christmas tree ― typically spruces, pines and firs ― alive. In Alabama, ravaged by the “worst drought in memory,” Christmas tree farms “throughout the state are realizing they have no trees available this year.” Christmas tree farms in Tennessee are opening later in the season because of drought and in states from Florida to New York, farmers have complained of dead seedlings, stunted growth, and Christmas trees that are “stressed” and unusually dry.
Crowd cheers return of rare weasel species via The Detroit News
One by one, 10 Pacific fishers that had been trapped in British Columbia were set free at a park south of Seattle as part of a multiyear effort to reintroduce the native species to its historical range. Fishers historically were found throughout much of the forested areas of the West Coast. But they declined in numbers due to trapping in the 1800s and early 1900s, and the loss of forest habitats.
Why Trump needs a strong Agriculture secretary via The Hill
(Opinion) The secretary’s day job consists of administering farm policy; implementing conservation initiatives; promoting agricultural trade; ensuring food safety; carrying out international and domestic feeding programs; offering agricultural credit; providing critical rural infrastructure, including electrification, water and sewer, police, fire, and health facilities, and lifesaving telemedicine; supporting land-grant universities and vital research; as well as forestry, energy, horticulture, and livestock policies. There can be no question as to the value of rural America's contribution to the moral character of our great country, but there are significant economic contributions as well, with U.S. farmers and ranchers alone directly or indirectly responsible for 16 million American jobs.
Lawmakers reach deal for California drought relief via Agri-Pulse
Farmers in California's drought-stricken Central Valley could get additional irrigation water in coming years under bipartisan provisions included in a congressional agreement to reauthorize water projects. The provisions would allow for diversion of more water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the Central Valley Project for up to five years. Water releases have been limited because of endangered species protections for the salmon and Delta smelt.
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