Helping landowners understand and make the best choice of available options for establishing conservation practices and wildlife habitat on private land is the primary objective of Minnesota’s Farm Bill Assistance Partnership. Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) sponsored Farm Bill Assistance staff serve on the front lines of landowner outreach, knocking on doors, picking up the phone, and providing support and facilitation to get environmentally sensitive lands enrolled in conservation programs like the state’s Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve program and the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). In Mower County, the Soil and Water Conservation District staff have been “swamped” by landowners looking to enroll sensitive lands in the program. Farm Bill staff have supported their federal partners by holding initial landowner meetings, deciding on boundaries, filling out documentation and writing plans for the land.
In Cottonwood County, the soil and water conservation district’s Farm Bill Assistant has completed 79 CRP plans in
2016, and provided GIS data and eligibility information to a number of landowners considering enrolling. Statewide,
more than 14,000 acres have been enrolled through the end of September.
Meeker County Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist Josh Pommier reports that in the fall of 2016, a landowner who had heard about the program stopped by to get more information. After Pommier walked him through the program, implementation, payment rates,
and the end result, the landowner reported it was “exactly what he’d been looking to do with his cropland.”