the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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monarch habitat eqip deadline friday!

There is a deadline this Friday for getting signed up for a special Monarch Habitat EQIP contract that’s very different from the normal.  You don’t have to be a producer, it’s not a rental payment but an incentive for seeding so it’s a one-time payment.  So, anyone with an odd half acre minimum (like where farmstead building have come down but it’s not in row crop) can qualify for this assistance on paying for seed.  The land doesn’t have to have a cropping history.  You just have to get signed up by Friday to get into the pool.
    There is especially interest in signing up areas along the band of counties, two on either side of I-35 through MN, IA, MO, that is dubbed the “I-35 corridor” (which doesn’t mean attracting butterflies to get smashed on the window, it’s just a landmark) where they’re trying to boost the amount of food plants for larvae to assist the monarch migration north to Canada and the generations back south to Mexico.
    Get to your local NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) office to find out more details.


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Jonathan Cobb holds soil from Green Fields Farm in Rogers, Texas.

Rick Haney, gangly and garrulous, paces in front of a congregation of government conservationists, working the room for laughs before he gets to the hard data. The U.S. Department of Agriculture soil scientist points to an aerial photograph of research plots outside his facility in Temple, Texas. “Our drones took this shot,” he says, then shakes his head. “Kidding. We don’t have any drones.”

Forty sets of shoulders jerk in amusement. Paranoia about the federal government is acute in Texas, and Haney’s audience—field educators from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), part of a corps of around six thousand that works directly with farmers nationwide—hail from around the state. They’re used to suspicious scowls from farmers, who are as skeptical of the feds as they are of the outsiders who dwell on the downsides of agriculture. For the most part, the people in this room are both: feds and outsiders.

But what if those downsides—unsustainable farming practices—are also bad for a farmer’s bottom line? It’s the question Haney loves to raise during training sessions like this one, which the NRCS (today’s iteration of the Dust Bowl–era Soil Conservation Service) convenes around the country as part of a soil health campaign launched in 2012. Haney is a star at these events because he brings the imprimatur of science to something many innovative farmers have already discovered: despite what the million-dollar marketing campaigns of agrichemical companies say, farmers can use less fertilizer without reducing yields, saving both money and landscapes.

“Our entire agriculture industry is based on chemical inputs, but soil is not a chemistry set,” Haney explains. “It’s a biological system. We’ve treated it like a chemistry set because the chemistry is easier to measure than the soil biology.”

To read more, click HERE!


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eqip yourself.

Funds Available For Organic Producers
Application Deadlines Rapidly Approaching

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for the 2013 EQIP Organic Initiative, and has $50 million to give to organic (and transitioning) producers who will be implementing conservation practices on their land.

Every state has a different application deadline, with some (California, Illinois, Colorado, Arkansas) as soon as November 16th, 2012. Many states have set their cut-off date as soon as December 3rd . And, some states have multiple deadlines.

See our EQIP Organic Application Deadline Chart to see when your state’s deadline is. Jump on this funding NOW for your organic conservation practices, before the deadlines come and go.

To apply, contact your state’s NRCS local office here.

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