@USDA Issues First #Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Payments #COVID19

Photo credit: Purdue University

Here’s the release from the US Department of Agriculture:

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has already approved more than $545 million in payments to producers who have applied for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. FSA began taking applications May 26, and the agency has received over 86,000 applications for this important relief program.

“The coronavirus has hurt America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers, and these payments directed by President Trump will help this critical industry weather the current pandemic so they can continue to plant and harvest a safe, nutritious, and affordable crop for the American people,” said Secretary Perdue. “We have tools and resources available to help producers understand the program and enable them to work with Farm Service Agency staff to complete applications as smoothly and efficiently as possible and get payments into the pockets of our patriotic farmers.”

In the first six days of the application period, FSA has already made payments to more than 35,000 producers. Out of the gate, the top five states for CFAP payments are Illinois, Kansas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and South Dakota. USDA has released data on application progress and program payments and will release further updates each Monday at 2:00pm ET. The report can be viewed at http://farmers.gov/cfap.

FSA will accept applications through August 28, 2020. Through CFAP, USDA is making available $16 billion in financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline due to COVID-19 and face additional significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities.

In order to do this, producers will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon approval of the application. The remaining portion of the payment, not to exceed the payment limit, will be paid at a later date nationwide, as funds remain available.

Getting Help from FSA

New customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer general assistance. This is a recommended first step before a producer engages the team at the FSA county office at their local USDA Service Center.

Producers can download the CFAP application and other eligibility forms from http://farmers.gov/cfap. Also, on that webpage, producers can find a payment calculator to help producers identify sales and inventory records needed to apply and calculate potential payments. Producers self-certify their records when applying for CFAP and that documentation is not submitted with the application. However, producers may be asked for their documentation to support the certification of eligible commodities, so producers should retain the information used to complete their application.

Those who use the online calculator tool will be able to print a pre-filled CFAP application, sign it, and submit it to your local FSA office either electronically or via hand delivery through an office drop box. Please contact your local office to determine the preferred delivery method for your local office. Team members at FSA county offices will be able to answer detailed questions and help producers apply quickly and efficiently through phone and online tools. Find contact information for your local office at http://farmers.gov/cfap.

Helping the Snow Gods: #CloudSeeding Grows as Weapon Against #GlobalWarming — Inside Climate News

From Inside Climate News (Bob Berwyn):

New research supports seeding efforts to bolster water supplies in drying regions, but some scientists question its effectiveness in addressing climate change.

Winter bonfires paying homage to snow gods have long been a tradition in cold weather regions around the world.

But in the last 70 years or so, communities in the western United States have gone beyond rituals and added a technological twist. Across hundreds of mountaintops, from the Sierra Nevada to the Sawtooths, Wasatch and Colorado Front Range, cloud seeding experts are now often burning small amounts of silver iodide with the aim of bolstering dwindling water supplies.

The vaporized metal particles are ideal kernels for new ice crystals. When moist, super-cooled air rises over mountain ranges under predictable winds, it sets up perfect conditions for the crystalline alchemy that creates snow, the white gold craved by ski resorts, ranchers and farmers and even distant cities that need mountain water to survive.

The scramble for water has intensified as global warming has battered much of the West during the last 20 years with heat waves, droughts and wildfires. With projections for declining snowpack and river flows, cloud seeding is becoming a regional climate adaptation measure costing several million dollars each year. In other regions, including parts of the central United States, seeding has also been used to try and enhance summer rains and to reduce the risk of severe hail storms.

Still Controversial

But even as governments and businesses increase the practice, questions remain about how effective it is, and some leading climate scientists say it should not be seen as a meaningful response to climate change. Though cloud seeding has expanded to cover tens of thousands of square miles across the West, there are no recent comprehensive studies assessing the effects in both targeted and non-targeted areas. Cloud-seeding permits are issued under a patchwork of state and federal rules, which sometimes cuts the public out of the process.

Several panels at a recent conference on weather modification addressed some of those issues, and included presentations on how efforts to cooperate on regional cloud seeding projects could serve as a model for governance of even larger scale climate-mitigating geoengineering projects.

Cloud Seeding targets North America. Map credit: North American Weather Modification Council

Some elected officials and water experts say the money is well spent because it produces millions of gallons of water that can be stored and used during drier and hotter summers, when stream flows dwindle. Scientific studies in the last few years show that cloud seeding works during suitable weather patterns that are already conducive to snowfall.

In the winter of 2018-2019, water managers in Colorado said their central mountains cloud seeding program produced between 80,000 and 90,000 acre feet of water at a cost of $2.70 per acre foot—a bargain in a region where prices per acre foot can reach $30,000. An acre foot of water is 325,851 gallons, enough for two average Colorado families for a year…

Research in the last two decades proves that the physical process works, but it’s still not clear how much water it produces. At best, the latest studies “hold promise for narrowing the uncertainty” that has accompanied such research over its long history, the paper concluded.

Altering clouds with plumes of metallic smoke might work on a localized basis, but it isn’t the right solution for large-scale and long-term regional drying and warming, said atmospheric scientist Kevin Trenberth, with the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Auckland, in New Zealand.

Video conference: “Eddied Out with WRC — Capturing River Moments Like a Pro” — Western Rivers Conservancy

Click here to register.

From email from the Western Rivers Conservancy:

Rivers provide us with some of our best memories with friends and family. Yet it often feels impossible to do those moments justice through the camera lens. With some coaching from Val Atkinson, one of the world’s most accomplished fly fishing photographers, you’ll come a heck of a lot closer!

Want to step up your photography game for your next trip to the river? Join us for a live how-to webinar with renowned river photographer Val Atkinson!

As part of our Eddied Out series, Western Rivers Conservancy is hosting Val for a one-hour instructional session about capturing rivers with your iPhone. He’ll show you:

  • Why light is everything
  • How to compose a great shot
  • The importance of moment
  • iPhone technical tips
  • What makes Val’s and some of WRC’s best river photographs work
  • About Val Atkinson

    Val Atkinson is an internationally acclaimed fly fishing photographer whose work has taken him to over 30 countries. He has published four photography books, and his photography has appeared in more than 100 publications worldwide. This is a rare chance to learn from a true pro, who knows rivers intimately and knows how to capture them unlike anyone else.

    #NMInFocus: Geoffrey Plant Web Extra #GilaRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

    New Mexico In Focus, a Production of NMPBS

    As part of his beat, Geoffrey Plant of the Silver City Daily Press covers water issues, including the proposed diversion of the Gila River that has garnered interest across New Mexico and the nation. In his conversation with correspondent Laura Paskus, Plant looks ahead to irrigation season given New Mexico’s drought conditions. He also talks about the release of a draft environmental impact statement concerning the proposed Gila River diversion and how the local community has responded to a bill introduced by New Mexico Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich that would designate the Gila River and parts of its watershed as Wild and Scenic.

    To read more about the M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act, visit: https://www.tomudall.senate.gov/gila

    To read the draft EIS on the proposed diversion (and submit public comment before June 8), visit: https://www.nmuniteis.com/documents

    And to watch New Mexico In Focus’s Our Land episode about the Gila River, visit: https://www.newmexicopbs.org/producti…

    Want more New Mexico in Focus?

    Subscribe for new videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL4s…
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    Gila River watershed. Graphic credit: Wikimedia

    #Arizona tribes fearful after losing court battle over #uranium mine near #GrandCanyon — Arizona Central #ColoradoRiver #COriver

    Supai Village. Photo credit Tom Bean/National Park Service

    From Arizona Central (Debra Utacia Krol):

    Havasupai Vice Chairman Matthew Putesoy is worried that a federal court decision regarding a uranium mine could lead to environmental catastrophe for his community and surrounding lands.

    A U.S. District Court judge ruled May 22 against the tribe and two environmental groups in a seven-year-old lawsuit that sought to close the Canyon Mine, a uranium mine located about 10 miles south of the Grand Canyon’s south rim.

    Putesoy said the tribe is not prepared to abandon its fight.

    “From Havasu Baaja’s point of view,” he said, using the traditional name of his people, “the Guardians of the Grand Canyon will continue to battle the mining companies and someway, somehow, stop the mine from happening. Once the water is gone there’s no replacing it.”

    The Canyon Mine lies within 1 million acres of federal lands surrounding the Grand Canyon that was withdrawn from any new mining for 20 years by the Interior Department in 2012.

    The ban’s intent was to allow the U.S. Geological Survey to study the effects of such mines in the area to determine if environmental damage was likely to occur. The U.S. Forest Service determined that Canyon Mine, owned by Canadian firm Energy Fuels, could still operate because it could show a profit, as theMining Law of 1872 requires for a valid claim to be honored.