WOODCOCK TOWNSHIP — A meeting to set priorities for U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs is 9 a.m. June 25 at the Woodcock Creek Nature Center, 21742 German Road.

The conservation districts in Crawford and Erie counties hold a local working group meeting in cooperation with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. This meeting is to gather input and help set priorities for USDA conservation programs under the 2018 Farm Bill for Crawford, Erie, Lawrence and Mercer counties.

“If you ever wanted to have your voice heard regarding USDA agricultural and conservation efforts, here is your opportunity,” said Jody Lasko, USDA NRCS district conservationist. “Recommendations from local working groups nationwide have truly made a difference in NRCS programs for agriculture and forestry over the last 20 years.”

For example, local working groups can make recommendations for the specific local ranking questions used to select approved applications in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Other recommendations could be related to the percentages of local funding divided among livestock, cropland, grazing, specialty crop or private woodlot applications.

The code of federal regulations states that local working groups will be comprised of county conservation district officials, agricultural producers representing the variety of crops and livestock or poultry raised within the local area, nonindustrial private forest landowners and other professionals representing relevant agricultural and conservation interests and a variety of disciplines in the soil, water, plant, wetland and wildlife sciences who are familiar with private land agricultural and natural resource issues in the local community. Local working groups will provide recommendations on local natural resource priorities and criteria for conservation activities and programs.

While the local working groups are advisory in nature and have no voting or implementation authority, USDA gives strong consideration to their recommendations. Groups support the locally led conservation effort by helping to coordinate USDA programs with other federal, state and local conservation programs to provide an integrated solution to addressing natural resource concerns.

Local working group meetings are open to the public. Anyone interested in participating may call Lasko at (814) 547-5962.

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