Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

We inspire and partner with our community to protect the natural resources and agricultural future of our District.


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Note to Congress: Be Responsible, Don’t Let the Farm Bill Expire

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This month, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has been drawing attention to a set of programs that run out of funding at the end of this fiscal year, and that will cease to fund new projects and applicants if no new funding is provided. These “tiny but mighty” programs are some of the most innovative, far-reaching programs in the federal farm bill, and include technical and financial assistance for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, local and regional food system development, healthy food access, rural development, agricultural research, organic farming, and more. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is urging Congress to fund these programs as part of a full farm bill reauthorization, or, if a temporary extension of the current farm bill is necessary, as part of that extension.

Recently, however, increased attention has been given by some in Congress to simply allow the current farm bill to expire without bothering to pass a short-term farm bill extension. This discussion is happening because at this point, it does not appear that negotiations between the House and Senate on a new farm bill will reach a conclusion before the end of the month when the current farm bill expires.

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Source:  National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, September 14, 2018

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Oregon vineyard abuzz with pollinators

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From atop a hill at Illahe Winery, looking down across 80 acres of lush vineyards, there’s more to generate a buzz than just the wine.

That’s because this vineyard is teeming with pollinators like bees, beetles, and butterflies – thanks to a unique conservation project.

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Source:  Tracy Robillard, USDA NRCS Oregon


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What’s at Stake: Local and Regional Food Programs

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Editor’s Note: The 2014 Farm Bill expires on September 30th. If the next farm bill is not finalized before that date, numerous “tiny but mighty” farm bill programs that support family farmers and food-producing communities will effectively shut down in terms of new funding and grant opportunities for fiscal year 2019. These workhorse programs, which have small price tags but big impacts, touch nearly every part of the American food and farm sectors. This is the second post of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s “What’s at Stake?” series, which highlights soon-to-expire farm bill programs and details what their absence could mean for farmers and communities nationwide.

What’s Next?

Though the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee is actively working on negotiating the draft farm bills from the House and Senate, there are very few working days left before the last farm bill expires (September 30). Family farmers and advocacy organizations like NSAC are fighting to protect local and regional food programs in the next farm bill, but we are also preparing for the possibility that the farm bill will not be passed on time – in which case the 2014 Farm Bill would have to be extended. Under an extension scenario, tiny but mighty programs like FMLFPP and FINI are not automatically funded; in fact, USDA would be unable to make any new awards unless Congress provides new funding. NSAC is therefore working with our members and allies to ensure that these critical programs are funded should we be faced with an extension.

Between the House and Senate draft farm bills, the Senate’s bill is the clear winner when it comes to supporting local and regional food systems. As mentioned above, the Senate bill creates a new program called the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP), which combines FMLFPP with the Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG) program and several other related initiatives. LAMP streamlines and amplifies the most effective components of these two programs, while also maintaining their core functions and benefits.

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Source:  National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, September 10, 2018

 


Discover the Cover: Managing Cover Crops to Suppress Weeds and Save Money on Herbicides

Winslow uses a diverse mix of cover crop species including rye, triticale, oats, crimson clover, rapeseed, and wooly pod vetch.  Photo Credit: Zeb Winslow

If you’re farming in the United States, you’ve likely heard two major suggestions for building healthier soils across your operation: reduce tillage and plant cover crops.

Reduced tillage is often the easier sell. On average, farmers who switch from continuous conventional till to continuous no-till save more than four gallons of diesel fuel per acre each year. In a very direct way, fuel saved is money saved.

The potential economic benefits of cover crops aren’t so immediately obvious, but they’re just as important to consider. Cover crops can and often do lead to annual economic benefits for farmers. How? Weed suppression is one part of the answer.

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Source:  Elizabeth Creech, USDA NRCS, July 24, 2018


How Much Water Do Coho Salmon Need?

Researchers Find Surprising Answer

For California’s endangered Coho salmon, just a trickle of water may mean survival in the small rivers and streams where the fish spend their first year, researchers found.

The Sonoma County Water Agency Mirabel inflatable dam and fish ladder on the Russian River in Sonoma County, California. A new study of Russian River tributaries found that even small amounts of streamflow can help endangered Coho salmon stay alive.Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

In California’s small coastal streams, where hundreds of thousands of Coho salmon once returned each year to spawn, most wild populations now barely cling to survival. Habitat loss and intensive water use have pushed them to the brink; now climate change and increasing competition for water resources could send them over the edge.

However, recent research offers some encouraging findings – that juveniles of Coho salmon, an endangered species in California, can survive in creeks where just a trickle of water remains flowing. Since Coho spend their entire first year in fresh water before heading for the sea, it’s critical that their creeks don’t dry out in the summer.

Scientist Mariska Obedzinski and three collaborators – Sarah Nossaman Pierce, a California Sea Grant Extension specialist; Gregg Horton, a principal environmental specialist at the Sonoma County Water Agency; and Matthew Deitch, an assistant professor of watershed management at the University of Florida – found that less than 1 gallon per second of flow in small streams is all it takes in some creeks to keep pools interconnected.

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Source:  Alastair Bland, Water Deeply, July 9, 2018.