Farmers will have a chance to help the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service identify funding priorities during an upcoming series of meetings.
The NRCS in Washington will host gatherings for local working groups across the state to discuss natural resource issues, opportunities and priorities.
Local agricultural communities, public agencies, nonprofits and partners are in the groups, said Amy Hendershot, acting partnership liaison for NRCS in Washington, based in Puyallup.
Input from farmers and other groups “gives us the tools we need to make sure Farm Bill programs are applied appropriately and actually help the agricultural communities,” she said. “Our goal is to make sure the Farm Bill programs can help agricultural communities move the dial to more conservation.”
The local input helps the NRCS determine the level of funding it can request and receive from the national office through the Farm Bill, Hendershot said.
“We’re looking for what the natural resource issues are in our agricultural and forest lands,” she said, “and what types of conservation activity the agricultural community is interested in implementing to address those natural resource issues.”
The meetings may have new information about the most recent Farm Bill, Hendershot said.
Other states determine the best way to gather information for their local ag communities, she said.
Following are upcoming meetings:
• The West Palouse working group meeting in Lincoln and Adams conservation districts was 9 a.m. to noon Feb. 15 at the Lincoln County Public Works in Davenport.
• The Northwest working group for Snohomish, Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan Islands, Whidbey Island, Clallum and Jefferson conservation district meets 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 6 at the Padilla Bay National Marine Estuarine Research Reserve in Mount Vernon.
• The Snake River working group for Asotin County and Columbia, Franklin, Pomeroy and Walla Walla conservation districts meets 10 a.m. to noon March 11 at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife office in Dayton.
• The Puget Sound working group in King, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce and Thurston conservation districts meets 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. March 13 at the USDA Service Center in Olympia.
• The Palouse working group in Whitman, Pine Creek, Palouse, Spokane County and Palouse-Rock Lake conservation districts meets 10 a.m. April 3 at the Colfax Service Center in Colfax.
• The South Central working group in Central and Eastern Klickitat, Benton, North and South Yakima and Underwood conservation districts meets 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 3 at the PUD of Klickitat County in Goldendale.
• Meetings for the Northeast working group in Stevens, Pend Oreille and Ferry conservation districts; the North Central working group in Okanogan, Foster Creek, South Douglas and Cascadia conservation districts; and the Southwest working group, for Clark, Underwood (Skamania), Lewis County, Cowlitz, Pacific, Wahkiakum and Grays Harbor conservation districts, are to be determined.
For more information about the Northeast working group, contact Karla Ware at 509-685-0858, ext. 115.
For the North Central working group, contact Stan Janowicz at 509-422-2750.
For the Southwest group, contact David Rose at 360-748-0084.
The Big Bend working group, for conservation districts in Grant and Kittitas counties, met in January.
“We’re hoping for as much input as possible,” Hendershot said.