benefits From Farming in Central Valley
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Every year thousands of California farmers work hard
to protect the environment while maintaining the state’s enviable status as the nation’s top agricultural producer.
Farmers establish highly efficient irrigation systems,
limit or stop the runoff from their farms, add vegetative strips and hedgerows
to catch sediment, lend a patch of space to pollinators and wildlife, practice
Integrated Pest Management (IPM), and adopt practices to build healthy soils
that help stop fields and creek banks from eroding.
The USDA’s Natural
Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) enters into conservation
contracts with over 2,400 producers each year in the state. Other farmers work
with resource conservation districts, industry groups or non-profits, or they
undertake conservation completely on their own to comply with the strictest
regulations in the nation and fulfill an internal commitment to pass-on the
land in better condition than they found it. As a result, hundreds of millions
of dollars and countless hours are invested in protecting water, soil, air and
wildlife on California farms. And yet, we constantly struggle to tell the story
of what farmers are doing to protect natural resources.
With all of this in mind, NRCS California and the
USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics
Service (NASS), are collaborating on an extensive survey of
approximately 1700 farmers in the Central Valley watershed. The study, called
the Conservation Effects Assessment Project or (CEAP), is the largest one ever
undertaken in California. NASS surveyors, called enumerators, have just begun
to collect data and will continue to do so through next February.
USDA statisticians will use the survey data to
populate computer models showing the benefits of conservation practices in use.
The models can also simulate the impact of removing current practices or the
benefits of targeting and applying additional conservation on the landscape.
This will help us tell our story to those crafting
policy or legislation or anyone else who asks, “What has agriculture done for
the environment lately?”
The results will also help point up where more
assistance is needed and make the case for greater funding in such areas.
Since information is pooled for statistical analysis
and modeling, confidentiality for individual landowners is absolute. In fact,
in over 17,000 CEAP surveys completed nationwide, there has never been a breach
But the project will be scientifically valid only if
farmers agree to take their valuable time to participate. This conservation
story deserves to be told. We ask farmers and ranchers to please add their
voice if NASS comes knocking.
Labels: California Ag News, CEAP, Conservation Effects Assessment Project, NRCS Survey