March 5, 2015

North Dakota at Odds With EPA According To OIG Report

The U.S. Office of the Inspector General late last month issued a scathing assessment of EPA’s Region 8 compliance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, blaming inspection issues in North Dakota for the regions lack of compliance with federal regulations.  Primarily, the report takes issue with EPA Region 8 inspectors not conducting inspections at establishments in the state that produce pesticides and the fact that North Dakota does not have a state inspector with qualifications equivalent to a federal inspector to conduct those inspections.

According to details in the report, EPA staff indicated that North Dakota officials had said they did not want federal inspectors conducting the inspection, an act which OIG says increases the risk that pesticides are not in compliance with federal law.

In response, North Dakota Agricultural Commissioner Doug Goehring released a statement on Wednesday of last week stating, in part, “I feel like we’ve been thrown under the bus,….North Dakota inspectors have been routinely conducting producer establishment inspections, under state and federal law and authority, through a cooperative agreement with EPA to ensure there is no risk to human health and the environment.”Goehring also stated that the agreement does not specify these inspections are to be conducted with federal credentials.

The report came as a surprise to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) since the state has an 86% pesticide compliance rate, the highest in the nation. North Dakota state inspectors use education compliance to ensure that state and federal laws meeting EPA requirements for compliance are met. North Dakota state inspectors conducted 918 pesticide inspections in 2014.

OIG says the report is a quick reaction report and represents their opinion and not necessarily that of EPA.  The final decisions will be made by EPA managers in accordance with audit procedures

 

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Enrollment Deadline Extended for Conservation Stewardship Program

USDA’s National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently announced  that the deadline for producer applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) has been extended to March 13, 2015.

 

While CSP is a continuous sign-up program and producers can apply to enroll at any time of the year, NRCS applies a cut-off date for applications to be considered during a particular fiscal year.  Once the cut-off date is past, producers may continue to apply for the program, but they will not be considered for entry until the spring of the following year, in this case spring of 2016. In order to enroll in 2015 applications must filed by March 13.

 

“We hope more farmers and ranchers will take advantage of this extension for the CSP application deadline. To meet this deadline, they just need to submit the basic application form to their local NRCS office,” said Traci Bruckner, Assistant Director of Rural Policy at the Center for Rural Affairs.

 

According to Bruckner, the Conservation Stewardship Program is a voluntary stewardship incentives program, administered by NRCS, designed to reward farmers, ranchers, and foresters for maintaining existing conservation, as well as for the adoption of additional conservation measures that provide multiple environmental benefits that run beyond the farm or ranch. This program pays producers for clean water, better soil management, improved habitat, energy efficiency, and other natural resource benefits. Since the program began in 2009, nearly 70 million acres of farm and ranch land have been enrolled in the program.

 

To sign up, producers should visit their NRCS local service center (http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?agency=nrcs).

 

Bruckner is encouraging farmers, ranchers and others to call the Center for Rural Affairs’ Farm Bill Helpline to share their experiences, both positive and negative. “We know the previous sign-ups have yielded some great success stories for farmers and ranchers, but also some disappointments and frustrations.”

 

“We want this program to work for all farmers and ranchers employing conservation-based farming systems, and firmly believe the CSP is a step in the right direction for policy to financially reward historical commitments to conservation, as well as encourage further adoption,” Bruckner continued. “This is a far better approach than paying to clean-up problems.”

 

“One of the main goals for our Farm Bill Helpline is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of programs such as the CSP,” said Bruckner. “It is only with that information that we are able to push for any needed changes and improvements.”

 

Producers can also receive guidance for applying for other conservation programs. “Through our helpline you will speak to someone who is knowledgeable about the program rules to help you understand how to participate in the program,” Bruckner added.

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Important To Get Soybeans Off To A Good Start

Soybean PlantPlanting season is around the corner, and there are some tips that soybean producers should consider….We’ll talk about that up next…

On the sidelines of Commodity Classic in Phoenix, we caught up with Kendall Nichols – the Director of Research Programs for the North Dakota Soybean Council.  We talked about getting soybeans off to a good start this season.

Nichols 1

Growers are strongly urged to test their soils for Soybean Cyst Nematode.
Crop rotation and resistance are the most important management tools against the disease.

Variety trial data from all NDSU Research Extension Centers for all crops can be found at www.ag.ndsu.edu/varietytrials.

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