Monday, June 30, 2014

Attention Horse Farm Owners !  Deadline for Application is September 30.

"This voluntary program offers a one-time signing bonus, now up to $250 an acre, attractive annual rental and incentive payments, and cost-share to install streamside buffers, wetlands, livestock fencing, watering facilities and other stream protection practices. "

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program applications now being accepted

Annapolis, MD - 6/29/2014
By Press Release, Maryland Department of Agriculture

Local soil conservation districts are now accepting applications for the newly reauthorized Maryland Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).  Farmers interested in earning extra farm income by taking environmentally sensitive cropland out of production for 10 to 15 years and planting streamside buffers, establishing wetlands, protecting highly erodible land or creating wildlife habitat should call or visit their local soil conservation district to take advantage of this popular environmental incentive program. Applications will be accepted through September 30. 
CREP is a federal-state partnership program that was reauthorized in the 2014 Farm Bill. This voluntary program offers a one-time signing bonus, now up to $250 an acre, attractive annual rental and incentive payments, and cost-share to install streamside buffers, wetlands, livestock fencing, watering facilities and other stream protection practices. CREP buffers meet all Maryland Nutrient Management Program setback requirements. In addition, CREP offers easy reenrollment for current participants with expiring contracts.
“The good news is that CREP is back and available to help farmers protect local waterways, enhance their farming operations and comply with Maryland’s nutrient management regulations,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “It’s worth checking into. I’ve never met a farmer who regretted installing a stream crossing or watering facility. Livestock farmers report that these practices can help improve hoof health for cattle and reduce mastitis problems in dairy cows. I urge farmers to visit their local soil conservation district to find out how this program can benefit their farms. 
Maryland’s Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program and USDA’s Farm Service Agency provide landowners with financial assistance to install best management practices (BMPs) on lands enrolled in CREP. Incentive payments worth up to 40 percent of the cost-share allocation are available for certain BMPs. Free technical assistance to install BMPs is provided by local soil conservation districts. In some instances, landowners have the option of selling a permanent easement on their land to the state.
In 1997, Maryland became the first state to participate in the CREP program. Since then, CREP has helped hundreds of landowners plant streamside buffers of grasses and trees, establish wetlands, protect highly erodible land and create wildlife habitat on roughly 70,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land. When fully implemented, CREP will help Maryland achieve its water quality goals by:
  • Reducing an estimated 11.5 million pounds of nitrogen and 1.1 million pounds of phosphorus from entering Maryland waterways each year.
  • Reducing the amount of sediment entering streams by approximately 200,000 tons annually.
  • Establishing and enhancing 77,000 acres of riparian buffers and 5,000 acres of wetland habitat and 2,000 acres of habitat for declining, threatened or endangered species, including the bald eagle and Eastern bog turtle.
  • Stabilizing and protecting up to 16,000 acres of highly erodible land.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June 11, 2014 Meeting Report

The evening sky was threatening rain but about 35 people came to beautiful Persimmon Tree Farm for the meeting on “How Your Horse Farm Can Be a Home for Healthy Horses AND Natural Flora and Fauna.”

Farm owner and host Carolyn Krome gave the group a tour of the native grasses planted to provide wildlife habitat and to hold the soil.  She explained the practice of a controlled burns to burn down the dry grasses on a regular schedule to avoid invasive plants and to minimize thatch.  She said that the grasses have attracted many birds, small animals, coyotes and even a bobcat.  Carolyn also showed the group the section of her farm planted to attract “pollinators” such as bees and butterflies.  This project was supported by the Maryland Soil Conservation Districts Pollinator Habitat Project. 

Jane Thery, Committee Chair, welcomed the group to the meeting.  Samantha Spencer, Carroll Country Soil Conservation District specialist, presented the plan she had prepared to develop a section of wetlands on Persimmon Tree Farm.  She explained the process of wetland planning and the assistance available from the Soil Conservation District office.

James Remuzzi, President of Sustainable Solutions, described his company’s process for controlled burns.  He noted that they will handle all of the needed permits, review the weather for an appropriate burning day and assure that the burn is contained.  He recommended that any native grass plantings that were to be burned are surrounded by a mown grass buffer zone of at least 15 feet to effectively contain the burn area. 

Gerald Talbert, Program Director of the Soil Conservation District Farm Certification and Assessment Program (FSCAP) spoke about the on-going process for bringing more horse farms into the program and announced that we now have 17 horse farms who have received full certification. 

Jane Seigler, president of the Maryland Horse Council, gave an update on legislative issues from the meeting of the Maryland Assembly.  She noted that our new lobbyist, Frank Boston, was very useful in legislative tracking.  One bill which passed and is important for the Farm Stewardship composting promotion is the requirement to include organic material under new fertilizer regulations.

Informal networking over refreshments sponsored by the Piedmont Group and R.D. Bowmen rounded out the evening as the rain began to fall.

The next Farm Stewardship meeting will focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources for your horse farm and will be held sometime in August or September. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

MHC Farm Stewardship Committee
Spring Meeting
Contributing to Healthy Horses and a Healthy Environment in Maryland

Wednesday, June 11 
6:00 - 8:30 pm

"How Your Horse Farm Can Be a Home for Healthy Horses AND Natural Flora and Fauna"
Our host is Carolyn Krome.  
Refreshments will be provided

Meeting Address:
Persimmon Tree Farm
1030 Bloom Road
Westminster, MD 21157

Agenda:               Welcome and Introduction
                                Jane Thery, Chair, Maryland Horse Council Farm Stewardship Committee

                                Naturalizing Your Horse Farm
                                Carolyn Krome, Owner, Persimmon Tree Farm

                                Conservation Programs and Planning
                                Samantha Spencer and Stan Pennington, Carroll County Soil Conservation District

                                Sustainable Solutions
                                James R. Remuzzi, President

                                Update on the Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program (FSCAP)
                                Gerald Talbert, Program Director

                                Legislative Issues Impacting Farm Stewardship
                                Jane Seigler, President, Maryland Horse Council

Tour of Persimmon Tree Farm