BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—A precision conservation program geared to get more farmers engaged in best management practices that protect water quality and prevent nutrient loss has been awarded a multi-million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The grant application was led by the Illinois Corn Growers Association.
The Precision Conservation Management (PCM) program was submitted by the Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA) to the USDA for consideration for funding under the agency’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The funding announcement was made at the ICGA offices today by Robert Bonnie, the USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. On-hand to accept the funding investment on behalf of ICGA was the association president, Jeff Jarboe, a family farmer from Loda, IL.
“With this grant funding from USDA, Illinois farmers will really be able to move the needle on making those incremental, voluntary improvements that help improve soil quality, manage our nutrients, and produce a high-value crop,” Jarboe said. “Best of all, we can do all of these things that make sense for the farm while protecting the environment for all Illinois families, including our own.”
“PCM is an innovative public-private partnership service program created by farmers, for farmers, to address the need for greater adoption of conservation practices,” explained Jarboe. “The idea is simple: we believe that the main reason that farmers elect to NOT implement conservation practices on their farms is due to uncertainty about how it will affect their families’ financial stability. The PCM program combines farmers’ financial goals with their conservation management interests.”
The PCM program is designed to achieve 4 main priorities:
1. Promote adoption of conservation practices by providing farmers with an informed assessment of financial risks and benefits resulting from adoption of new practices;
2. encourage participation in conservation programs by providing data entry and paperwork submission services, data management, and report generation serviced to meet the requirements of Natural Resources Conservation Service and Field to Market;
3. track, analyze, and demonstrate changes in farmer practices by providing aggregated and anonymized data for analysis of conservation practices from agronomic and economic perspectives, including analysis at a watershed or millshed scale; and
4. achieve natural resource benefits on the farm and over a large-scale, regional basis that improve crop productivity, water quality, soil health, and help avoid the need for regulatory requirements.
Although ICGA originated the PCM program, its success depends on a larger partnership with more than 30 other organizations. Cornerstone partners in the PCM effort include the Illinois Corn Marketing Board through an investment of corn checkoff dollars, the University of Illinois, Farm Business Farm Management, and Heartland Science and Technology Group.
“PCM can’t happen without Illinois corn farmers, but farmers need the help and expertise of researchers and financial specialists to be able to make the best decisions for their farms,” said Jarboe. “The list of PCM partners embodies the best opportunities for farmers to engage with experts that will help us continue to make incremental improvements on our farms.”
More information about the PCM program can be found on the IL Corn website at www.ilcorn.org/pcm.