Local updates from the US Department of Agriculture
For the Antigo Times
Farmers and Entities can now request conservation assistance easily online
Farmers, and private landowners can now do business with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through an easily accessible online portal. Recently, entities have also been added as eligible online customers! Conservation Client Gateway gives producer and entities the ability to work with conservation planners online to access Farm Bill programs, request assistance, and track payments for their conservation activities. Too busy for an office visit? Log in to see maps of your farm, complete applications and signatures online and more. Over 115 producers have already taken advantage of the new portal in Wisconsin. You can be next.
“What used to require a trip to a USDA Service Center can now be done from a home computer through our online Conservation Client Gateway,” said Peggy Winter, Lincoln and Langlade Counties District Conservationist. “Our goal is to make it easy and convenient for farmers to work with USDA by offering more options.” The portal enables farmers and private landowners to securely:
- Request NRCS technical and financial assistance;
- Review and sign conservation plans and practice schedules;
- Complete and sign an application for a conservation program;
- Review, sign and submit contracts and appendices for conservation programs;
- Document completed practices and request certification of completed practices;
- Request and track payments for conservation programs; and
- Store and retrieve technical and financial files, including documents and photographs.
Conservation Client Gateway is entirely voluntary, giving producers a choice between conducting business online or traveling to a USDA Service Center. Customers can log in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to electronically sign documents, apply for conservation programs, access conservation plans, report practice completion, or track the status of conservation payments. Through Conservation Client Gateway, producers have their conservation information at their fingertips and they can save time and gas money by reducing the number of trips to USDA Service Centers.
Conservation Client Gateway is available to individual landowners and business entities, such as Limited Liability Corporations. It is part of the agency’s ongoing Conservation Delivery Streamlining Initiative, which will feature additional capabilities in the future. To sign up for Conservation Client Gateway, visit: www.nrcs.usda.gov/clientgateway and then click Get Started.
Honey Bee Pollinator Habitat Funding available until June 2nd
Farmers and landowners are encouraged to contact their local U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office to sign up now, through June 2, 2017, for honey bee pollinator habitat financial assistance. Funding is provided through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Applications are being taken at all USDA Service Centers in Wisconsin to improve the health of honey bees, which play an important role in crop production.
“The future of America’s food supply depends on honey bees, and this effort is one way NRCS is helping improve the health of honey bee populations,” said Peggy Winter, District Conservationist in Lincoln and Langlade Counties. “Significant progress has been made in understanding overall health of honey bees, and this funding will allow us to work with farmers and ranchers to apply that knowledge over a broader area.”
An estimated $15 billion worth of crops is pollinated by honey bees, including more than 130 fruits and vegetables. USDA’s NRCS is focusing the effort in five Midwestern states: Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. From June to September, the Midwest is home to more than 65 percent of the commercially managed honey bees in the country. It is a critical time when bees require abundant and diverse forage across broad landscapes to build up hive strength for the winter.
The assistance will provide guidance and support to farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that will provide safe and diverse food sources for honey bees. For example, appropriate cover crops and pasture management may provide a benefit to producers by reducing erosion, increasing the health of their soil, inhibiting invasive species, and providing quality forage and habitat for honey bees and other pollinators.
For more on technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.wi.nrcs.usda.gov/programs or call your local USDA service center at 715-3692-5941 extension 105.