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Competency Area 9: Conservation Planning AEM

PO 86. Explain how federal, state, and local programs support implementation of conservation plans.

Technical and financial assistance is offered to farmers in a voluntary, cost-share driven incentive environment through conservation programs offered from federal, state, and/or local governments.  Such programs reflect the public's concern over a broad range of environmental conditions and their desire to address these problems. The non-farming public wishes for a clean, stable natural resource base which provides an adequate, affordable food supply. In addition, the natural and social amenities (green space, viewsheds, quality of the soil, water, and air resources, and wildlife health and habitat) brought about by the conservation and wise use of our natural resources are also highly desired public goods. When farmers implement conservation plans through participation in conservation programs they underscore their concern for these same issues and bolster their environmental stewardship. This environmental and socially responsible behavior also results in social and community benefits reflected in the quality of life for all.

Federal, state and local programs provide technical and financial assistance to farmers and other landowners interested in developing and implementing a conservation plan. Technical assistance is brought to bear by NRCS and Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) employees, as well as certified Technical Service Providers (TSP) from the private sector. These individuals provide expertise from discipline areas such as agronomy, sediment and erosion control, animal science, engineering, water quality, nutrient and pest management, forestry, and wildlife. Thus, these individuals are subject matter experts tasked to providing guidance and decision making assistance to farmers and other landowners. A significant portion of the technical assistance cost is covered through the salaries of the public sector employees. TSP fees are offset through cost sharing available through federal and state conservation programs. A varying percentage of the cost of the materials and services for the installation of a conservation practice or system composed of practices (conservation management systems) is addressed through the financial assistance provisions of a variety of federal and state conservation programs. Leveraging of these programs at the local level is a very effective strategy to provide a significant amount of the financial assistance that a farmer needs.