In two breakout sessions, the Private Sector (farmers and agribusiness people) revised Consortium pasture research priorities, produced a resolution asking the NRCS to cost-share perimeter fences on where cropland was being converted to pasture under the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), produced another resolution asking NRCS to fund the pastureland National Resource Inventory in 2012 when they found out it was being cut from the reduced 2012 budget, and reconstituted the Stakeholder Action Committee. Orchardgrass die-off was also raised as a concern.
In their two breakout sessions, the Public Sector sought ways to fund the Consortium in 2012 as ARS’s budget is extremely tight due to a budget cut and the expense associated with closure of ten ARS research units and the cost of relocating their employees to other surviving research units. ARS has underwritten the Consortium since 1996, but will not be able to in all likelihood this fiscal year. The Public Sector also discussed the issue of cost-sharing of perimeter fences in EQIP. In the Northeast, it is a needed incentive to get landuse conversion from cropland to pasture. Often times from an environmental standpoint, the more marginal cropland being converted to pasture would greatly improve water quality and reduce soil erosion to near zero. Another issue raised was the die-out of orchardgrass in the Mid-Atlantic states of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. This grass species is a very important component of many Northeast pastures. It is getting more susceptible to insect and disease attacks. The underlying cause is unknown.