Not long after the 2014 Farm Bill was enacted, staff members from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) hit the road, visiting with farmers and ranchers across Nevada to share information on changes to conservation programs and to highlight other opportunities through USDA.
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) and a number of other partners joined NRCS for the Farm Bill Road Show, which consisted of information sessions held at various sites across the state, meeting with hundreds of farmers and ranchers and several tribes. One of those stops along the way was with the Ft. McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe.
The Farm Bill consolidated several programs and gave life to a few others. Additionally, these sessions gave NRCS conservationists a chance to talk about other opportunities, including StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity.
StrikeForce is a national initiative that addresses high-priority funding and technical assistance needs in rural communities in 20 states, including Nevada, with a special emphasis on historically underserved populations.
The Farm Bill Road Show built on an earlier wave of sessions on StrikeForce, including a February visit to the Ft. McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe for a listening session to learn about some of the tribe’s concerns.
“Wrapping StrikeForce meetings into our stops with the Tribes enabled us to accomplish many things in one tour, and we’re grateful that so many partners were able to join us in Ft. McDermitt,” said Bruce Petersen, NRCS state conservationist in Nevada.
In keeping with the mantra “listen, don’t tell,” NRCS conservationists and other partners heard the tribe outline their issues: replacement of a dam on tribal lands, drought, feral horses, noxious weeds and fencing.
“I was skeptical that a lot of work would get done with so many people, but everyone came together and made great progress on our issues,” said Arlo Crutcher, a tribal councilman. “Our thanks to the USDA and its partners.”
The tribe’s dam was destroyed in a flood in 1997, which destroyed the local agricultural economy because farmers were no longer to get water to their crops. Meanwhile, periods of drought have worsened the situation.
This past month, the Farm Bill Road Show took NRCS staff and partners back to the tribe, and the resource partners broke into three working groups: noxious weeds, feral horses and tribal planning to replace the dam. Tangible progress was made, with different partners providing solutions, advice and ways to team up to tackle a variety of projects.
For some of the projects, technical and financial assistance from Farm Bill conservation programs provided possible solutions.
“We, along with our FSA partner, thought it was important to explain to our customers what was new, different, more streamlined or the same with the new Farm Bill as soon as feasibly possible,” Petersen said. “We held public meetings around the state that facilitated great discussions and provided some answers or solutions in person, including talking about important drought assistance opportunities.”