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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Farm Bill Myth-Busting: the Conservation Stewardship Program

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With the 2014 Farm Bill now expired without an extension in place, all eyes are now on the congressional leaders heading up the Farm Bill Conference Committee. The Committee leaders, which include Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee Pat Roberts (R-KS), Ranking Member Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Mike Conaway (R-TX), Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN), are currently working behind the scenes in an attempt to negotiate a new bill by the end of the year.

Negotiations have proven difficult because of the substantive differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The Senate bill, for example, was approved with broad bipartisan support, while the House only narrowly passed along partisan lines after initially failing on the House floor. The differences between the two draft bills can be found across nearly all twelve of the farm bill’s titles, including the conservation title.

Within the conservation title, the biggest split is on the future of the farm bill’s working lands conservation programs: the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). In the Senate bill, both major working lands programs are kept whole, and important policy improvements are made to each that increase access and environmental benefits. The bill also cuts funding for each program by equal amounts to help pay for a needed funding increase of agricultural conservation easements.

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Source:  National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition


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$7.5 Million in Farm to School Grant Funds Released in National Farm to School Month

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Just in time for National Farm to School month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the opening of fiscal year (FY) 2019 Farm to School Grant Program request for applications (RFA). First enacted into law through the 2012 Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, the Farm to School Grant Program helps farmers and healthy food advocates across the country to increase the availability of local foods in schools by supporting trainings, research, equipment, operations support, and the development of partnerships.

For the FY 2019 cycle, USDA will award upwards of $7.5 million in grants to eligible applicants; an increase of over $2 million compared to the previous funding cycle. The additional funding was made available through FY2018 Omnibus bill. As a reminder, USDA will contribute no more than 75% of the total project costs, and applicants are expected to match at least 25% of the total project costs.

Full details on this year’s RFA can be found online here. All proposals are due on December 4, 2018 11:59PM EST via

Additional information is also available via USDA’s Frequently Asked Questions document and through two USDA webinars to be held this month: Tuesday, October 16 and Wednesday, October 17, 2018. Both webinars will start at 1:00pm EST. Those interested can register for the webinars using this link.

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Source:  National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, October 8, 2018

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USDA Website Puts Soils Information, Tools at Your Fingertips


USDA has re-designed its Soil Tools web page, to now serve as a one-stop source for new, leading-edge tools and technologies to help farmers, ranchers, and other land users understand, evaluate and conserve soils.

Managed by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the web page offers single-site access to soil data and maps, soil databases, digital soil applications, climate data, descriptions of soils, ecological sites, statistical packages and soil-property calculators. The USDA maps and information are free with no user ID or password required.

“Along with air, sunlight and water, soil is one of the four building blocks of life on earth,” said Dave Hoover, Director of the National Soil Survey Center. “Soil is tied, in some way, to everything we use as a society. This new web portal makes it easy to find and use soils data, and provides unique, interactive tools for all customers of soils information.”

Highlights include:

  • Access to download up-to-date soil data and maps used for comparing soils over broad areas, make conservation planning and soil evaluation easier.
  • Access to Web Soil Survey and other tools that provide the ability to search for soils maps and data by location.
  • Access to soil apps that display and allow users to access data and view interactive maps.
  • Access to calculators for soil texture and water budgeting.

Check it out here.


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Global Warming of 1.5 °C


Limiting global warming to 1.5ºC would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the IPCC said in a new assessment.  With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Monday.

The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC was approved by the IPCC on Saturday in Incheon, Republic of Korea. It will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December, when governments review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

“With more than 6,000 scientific references cited and the dedicated contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers worldwide, this important report testifies to the breadth and policy relevance of the IPCC,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

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Read the report here.

Sonoma County SOD Program

Sudden Oak Death 

2018 Blitz Results Workshop — Wednesday, October 10, 2018 — 6:00-7:30PM

Where: University of California Cooperative Extension Office, 133 Aviation Blvd, #109, Santa Rosa, CA

Cost: Free

Click here to register

Hosted by UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County Sudden Oak Death Specialists. Thanks to the USDA Forest Service for funding this program.

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Results of the 2018 Sudden Oak Death survey, also known as SOD blitz, will be made public at this meeting. This information will allow homeowners to identify new areas at risk and to learn from SOD expert Dr. Matteo Garbelotto (U.C. Berkeley) how to protect oaks from SOD and other threats, including drought.

The SOD Blitzes are volunteer-run surveys to monitor SOD distribution in California, and represent the first and oldest example in the world of how citizens and scientists can join forces to fight a formidable threat to native trees.

Click here to Register

For more information on the SOD Blitz project, click here.

Continuing Resolution Passes House, Agriculture “Minibus” Stuck

Earlier this week, the House passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) for spending bills that have not yet been passed, which would extend government funding levels from fiscal year (FY) 2018 through December 7 of this year. The CR was passed as part of a “minibus” spending bill package (H.R. 6157) that included FY 2019 funding for the Department of Defense and the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. In addition to the two funding bills that have been passed, there are ten other annual funding packages that are still awaiting congressional action.

The Defense and Health and Human Services minibus package passed on the floor of the Senate last week. The CR was added to the minibus in order to increase the likelihood that a complete funding package could pass the two chambers and be signed by the President before September 30, thereby avoiding a partial government shutdown.

As we have previously reported, the agriculture spending bill for FY 2019 was included in a different minibus along with three additional bills – Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; Financial Services and General Government; and Housing and Urban Development. The House and Senate already passed the first minibus for Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veteran Affairs, and it was signed by the President earlier this month.

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Source:  National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, September 28, 2018