The 2002 farm bill included more new conservation programs and funding than ever before. But many farmers still don’t know how to make the best use of the programs. That’s why they will be the subject of a special panel during the USA Rice Outlook Conference in Biloxi on Monday.

Leading farmers/conservationists from each of the six rice-growing states have been invited to share their successes with conservation programs and activities. The speakers have mastered a wide range of conservation activities from underground pipelines, land leveling, crop rotation, pipe drops, tail water recovery systems, and conservation tillage to wetland restoration and native grass buffers.

The panel will explain how they combined technical assistance and program financial assistance to accomplish their goals —or why they chose to forego certain programs and do the work on their own.

Joining these conservation leaders will be Carole Jett, associate deputy chief for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, which oversees most of the 2002 farm bill conservation programs.

While the workshop will focus on the programs offered by NRCS, speakers will also cover complementary state and private programs to help farmers craft the most effective on-the-land conservation package. Jett will cover NRCS conservation programs available to rice farmers including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Wetlands Reserve Program, the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, and the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program.

She will also discuss the new and much anticipated Conservation Security Program. CSP offers a new approach in federal farm policy, providing stewardship payments for ongoing good work and additional conservation enhancement activities.

The workshop will take place at the Beau Rivage Hotel in Biloxi from 9 am to 11:30 am. on Monday.

Registration and sponsorship information for this year’s conference is available online at www.usarice.com. On-site registration is also available at the conference.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com