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Harvest Public Media
Harvest Public Media is a reporting collaboration focused on issues of food, fuel and field. Based at KCUR in Kansas City, Harvest covers these agriculture-related topics through an expanding network of reporters and partner stations throughout the Midwest.Most Harvest Public Media stories begin with radio- regular reports are aired on member stations in the Midwest. But Harvest also explores issues through online analyses, television documentaries and features, podcasts, photography, video, blogs and social networking. They are committed to the highest journalistic standards. Click here to read their ethics standards.Harvest Public Media was launched in 2010 with the support of a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Today, the collaboration is supported by CPB, the partner stations, and contributions from underwriters and individuals.Tri States Public Radio is an associate partner of Harvest Public Media. You can play an important role in helping Harvest Public Media and Tri States Public Radio improve our coverage of food, field and fuel issues by joining the Harvest Network. Learn more here.

Federal programs to get farmers' help on climate change has more takers than money

Seth Bodine/Harvest Public Media
The Natural Resource Conservation Program pays for farmers to implement environmentally friendly practices like cover crops.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants farmers to do more to offset climate change. But more than half of the farmers who want to cash in on the payments that come with two programs have been shut out.

In the last decade, more than 1 million farmers failed to qualify for money for the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, or EQIP, and the Conservation Stewardship Program, or CSP, according to a new study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

The programs pay farmers to be more environmentally friendly and conserve the land. Through EQIP, for instance, farmers can be paid up to $15,000 a year to implement practices like planting cover crops, wetland wildlife management and restoring rare and declining species of animals.

Through CSP, a dairy farmer in Wisconsin was paid to build runoff and filter strips to prevent waste getting into water systems.

Only 31% of EQIP applicants and 42% of CSP received contracts. Farming states like Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois and Kansas had the lowest acceptance rates compared to demand in 2020, according to the study.

The programs simply run out of money before signing up all the farmers who are interested.

“Just because you apply doesn't mean you're going to get in,” says Gary O’Neill, the state conservationist for Oklahoma’s Natural Resource Conservation Service “It’s based on how many funds we have, but are also based on the ranking of that application.”

Michael Happ, program associate for climate and rural communities at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, says the federal government should add $30 billion to the programs if it wants a good buy in fighting climate change.

“We have these two programs that exist, that are really popular with farmers that already have and will continue to help them deal with the effects of climate change,” Happ says. “And there's just an incredibly strong demand for these two programs that's not being met.”

Follow Seth on Twitter: @sbodine120

Harvest Public Media is a collaboration of KCUR, Nebraska Public Media, Iowa Public Radio, Illinois Newsroom, KOSU and St. Louis Public Radio focused on food, farm and rural issues.