SPRINGFIELD, IL – Today, the Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources (S.T.A.R.) Initiative introduced a new Pilot Incentive Program in Illinois through a partnership with the American Farmland Trust. This program is offering a modest incentive to farmers willing to implement new in-field management practices that increase a specific field’s STAR rating. S.T.A.R. will work with Conservation Districts and other affiliates to engage with farmers and facilitate participation in this new Pilot Program.

S.T.A.R. can help farmers evaluate their current nutrient and soil management practices, identify possible improvements, and provide some financial support to try new practices. Payments ranging from $10 to $30 an acre will be made directly to farmers implementing new in-field practices over the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 Crop Years, based on the overall increase in their 1 to 5 STAR rating. To participate farmers should fill out a 2020 Field Form by February 1st, 2021 and then complete a simple application form, also available at www.starfreetool.com. Funds will be allocated by March 2021.

“The call to demonstrate how sound farming practices protect soil and water resources is growing,” expresses Nick Longbucco, S.T.A.R. Coordinator. “S.T.A.R was developed as an easy tool for farmers to evaluate their current practices and provide a roadmap for improved in-field management. I am extremely excited that we can now offer farmers direct incentives to assist in making those improvements.”

Longbucco credits American Farmland Trust for getting the pilot program off the ground. American Farmland Trust is a national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work.

“S.T.A.R.’s goal of meeting farmers where they’re at while encouraging continuous improvement aligns well with our mission,” states Dr. Emily Bruner, Midwest Science Director for American Farmland Trust. “S.T.A.R. not only helps farmers and conservation professionals evaluate management practices, it assists them in sharing their stories about what steps they are taking to protect soil and water resources, and we are proud to be a strong supporter of the Initiative.”

For more information or assistance with your application contact S.T.A.R. Coordinator, Nick Longbucco or  your local county Soil and Water Conservation District to see if they are a licensed S.T.A.R. provider.

Nick Longbucco | S.T.A.R. Coordinator
Phone: (248) 807-2235
Email: Nick.Longbucco.@AISWCD.org

Links to Forms:

2020 S.T.A.R. Field Form
S.T.A.R. Rewards Pilot Incentive 2021 Program Application Form
S.T.A.R. Incentives PDF

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NACD E-Resource: Iowa Launches S.T.A.R. Pilot Area

The Conservation Districts of Iowa (CDI) has identified and launched a pilot area for the promotion of the Saving Tomorrow’s Agricultural Resources (S.T.A.R.) initiative. After signing a memorandum of understanding with the Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to bring S.T.A.R. to Iowa in 2019, CDI obtained grant funding to pilot the program in 25 counties in the east-central region of the state for crop year 2021. Iowa S.T.A.R. is an initiative to incentivize conservation efforts and to assist producers with land access, market incentives and profitability.

The funding allows CDI to dedicate staff to the S.T.A.R. program, to more widely promote it and to be able to offer incentive payments to the counties in the pilot area based on the number of fields enrolled in the program. Carlee Sabus, CDI’s program manager, is providing leadership to the S.T.A.R. program.

During the past year, a S.T.A.R. steering committee was organized to administer all aspects of the Iowa program. In addition, a S.T.A.R. science committee, comprised of agricultural experts and university scientists from across the state, met several times to assess and determine specific environmental concerns and commonly used agricultural tillage and nutrient practices in Iowa. A S.T.A.R. field evaluation form specific to Iowa was developed and approved by both committees in early 2020, and is available on CDI’s website.

In addition to CDI’s promotion of S.T.A.R., two large area agricultural suppliers are advancing the program and its benefits through the use of their field staff to distribute the field evaluation form and to promote the program.

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