MACD News Blog

USDA Announces Funding for Conservation Stewardship Program

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

$100 million Expected to Attract Enrollment of 7.7 Million Acres for Conservation

EAST LANSING, Jan. 27, 2015 –The U.S. Department of Agriculture will make $100 million available this year through the Conservation Stewardship Program for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to maintain and improve their conservation efforts. Producers should submit applications by Feb. 27, 2015 to ensure they are considered for this year’s funding.

“CSP is a way to encourage farmers, ranchers, and private forest managers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land to adopt even higher levels of stewardship,” said State Conservationist Garry Lee of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “By focusing on multiple resource concerns, landowners are able to achieve a sustainable landscape and maintain or increase the productivity of their operations.”

Through CSP, participants take additional conservation steps to improve the resource conditions on their land, including soil, air and habitat quality, water quality and quantity, and energy conservation. NRCS accepts applications for the program on a continuous basis but only applications submitted before the deadline will be considered for 2015 funding.

The 2014 Farm Bill brought changes to CSP including an expanded conservation activity list that will offer participants greater options to meet their conservation needs and protect the natural resources on their land. These conservation activities, called enhancements, include cover crops, intensive rotational grazing and wildlife friendly fencing.

Applications should be submitted to local NRCS offices.  As part of the CSP application process, applicants will work with NRCS field personnel to complete a resource inventory of their land, which will help determine the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities. The applicant's conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments.

A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types.

For more on technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit or a local USDA service center.

Today's announcement was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. The 2014 Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life.


MAEAP 2500 Verification Celebration

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) celebrated the 2500 verification on October 30, 2014, at Darling Farms in Monroe County. The event was held to celebrated the half way point to achieving the goal of 5,000 verifications within the program.

I was pleased to be present at the event, along with several Conservation District employees and MAEAP technicians, to celebrate this milestone.  And, I made sure to capture the moment with a picture of attending Conservation District staff members with Jamie Clover Adams, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director.

MAEAP is an innovative, proactive, and voluntary program that helps farms of all sizes and all commodities voluntarily prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks and Michigan Conservation Districts are the main delivery system, providing program technicians whom assist farmers and landowners work through the three phase process to become verified.  To learn more about MAEAP, visit

Thank you Conservation Districts for all you do!

MACD Presents Kenny Price with 2014 Director of the Year Award

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The Michigan Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) honored Kenny Price, Chairman of the Jackson Conservation District, with the 2014 Director of the Year Award on Tuesday, October 28th. The award, presented during the MACD Annual Convention held in Bellaire, honored Kenny Price for his outstanding support, advocacy and leadership in natural resource conservation at the local level.
The Director of the Year is named annually by MACD to recognize the outstanding contributions of a Conservation District director. As local, special purpose units of government, each Conservation District is governed by a locally elected, five-member board of directors. These directors provide leadership and make decisions regarding the District's programs and activities. Michigan's 78 Conservation Districts are local special purpose units of state government which provide resource management services and assistance to help our citizens conserve their lands and our environment for a cleaner, healthier, economically stronger Michigan.
"MACD is pleased to honor Kenny Price with the 2014 Director of the Year Award," said Lori Phalen, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts. "Kenny is an enthusiastic director, dedicated to the mission of Conservation Districts. He is willing to share his knowledge and roll up his sleeves to assist the District, whether it is advocating the benefits of District programs with county officials, or cleaning local rivers. Kenny is a true steward of our environment and an integral part of Michigan's conservation community and we are pleased to honor him with this award."

Left to Right: Lori Phalen, Ex. Director MACD; Lori Fitzgibbons, Jackson County Conservation District Manager, Kenny Price, Jackson County CD Board Chair; Kandice Karll, Jackson County CD Watershed Manager, Art Pelon, MACD President and Mike Krcmarik, Jackson County CD CTAI Engineer. 

Kenny Price was elected to the Jackson Conservation District Board in January of 2012 and voted in as Chairman in 2013. With Kenny's dedication to the mission of the Conservation District and his knowledge and willingness to help, wherever and whenever needed, he has been a true asset to the Jackson Conservation District. Kenny has cleaned highways and rivers, volunteered to work at District events, spoke at outreach events, and has consistently attended board, regional and state meetings. Kenny also serves as the President of the Grand River Environmental Action Team and is a member of the Upper Grand River Watershed Alliance.
Congratulations Kenny, and thank you for your hard work and dedication to the Jackson County Conservation District!

MACD Honors Mary Fales and the Nature Conservancy with 2014 Friend of Conservation Award

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The Michigan Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) honored Mary Fales and The Nature Conservancy with the 2014 Friend of Conservation Award on Tuesday, October 28th. The award, presented during the MACD Annual Convention held in Bellaire, recognizes an individual, business, organization or agency who partners with Conservation Districts to help Michigan citizens conserve their lands and Michigan's natural resources.
"MACD is pleased to recognize The Nature Conservancy and Mary Fales, Saginaw Bay Project Director," said Lori Phalen, MACD Executive Director. "Through their work, within Saginaw Bay and the Cass River Watershed, they are making a lasting, positive impact on our environment and it is our pleasure to honor them with the 2014 Friend of Conservation Award."
MACD annually presents the Friend of Conservation Award to recognize an individual, business, organization, or agency for their outstanding contributions to: 1) improve the understanding of natural resource conservation by the public; 2) participate in resource management practices in cooperation with a Conservation District, state or national conservation program, and 3) further the mission of Michigan Conservation Districts as the local providers of natural resource management services to help our citizens conserve their lands and our State's resources for a cleaner, healthier, economically stronger Michigan.
Nominated by the Sanilac and Tuscola Conservation Districts, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has provided resources to educate agricultural producers and landowners on conservation programs and practices that enhance water quality in the Saginaw Bay and the Cass River Watershed.  Their efforts have allowed Conservation Districts to focus technicians' time promoting and implementing Farm Bill and conservation programs in the Cass River Watershed. Over a two year period TNC has provided public promotion of conservation practices through cover crop plots, workshops, presentations and informational mailings to landowners and agricultural producers within Sanilac and Tuscola counties.  Funding provided by the TNC has been a major contributor to 10 wetland restorations that have been started and or completed, over 30 conservation plans, and over 15 NRCS conservation contracts. These contracts have led to the use of conservation practices such as: cover crops, reduced tillage, filter strips and grassed waterways on several thousand acres across the two counties.  Additionally, several livestock facilities have had Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans written and are implementing practices on their farms to reduce the risk of manure and other waste from contaminating surface and ground water.  The Nature Conservancy has been an excellent partner with both the Sanilac and Tuscola Conservation Districts and has helped bring conservation to many landowners and agricultural producers in both counties. 

Left to Right: Joe Kautz, Sanilac County Conservation District Manager; Randal Dell, TNC Ag Strategy Manager; Art Pelon, MACD President and Lori Phalen, MACD Executive Director.

To learn more about the work of the Sanilac County Conservation District, visit:, to learn more about the Tuscola Conservation District visit:  For more information about the work of The Nature Conservancy in Michigan, visit: