Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District
History of the Soil and Water Conservation Program
In the 1930s, as the Dust Bowl swept across the nation relocating an estimated 300 million tons of soil, Americans realized the devastating effects of soil erosion. Legislation began to take shape to better manage and conserve the nation’s soil. Despite these actions, Missouri was still plagued with high erosion rates.
In 1982, Missouri was losing soil at a rate of 10.9 tons per acre each year on cultivated cropland. A one-tenth-of-one-percent parks, soils and water sales tax was passed by Missouri voters in 1984 to fund state parks and soil and water conservation efforts. Prior to the passage of the sales tax, Missouri had the second highest rate of erosion in the nation. Almost two-thirds of Missouri voters renewed the tax in 1988 and 1996. In 2006, the tax passed by its highest percentage to date (70.8).
Since 1982, Missouri’s erosion rate dropped more than any other state. It is estimated that more than 148 million tons of soil have been saved since the start of the sales tax, but millions of tons of soil still wash away every year on cultivated cropland in Missouri.
The majority of the soils side of this tax has been used to assist agricultural landowners through voluntary programs that are developed by the Soil and Water Districts Commission. They are administered by the Soil and Water Conservation Program through district boards in each of the 114 counties.
The cost-share program provides financial incentives to landowners for up to 75 percent of the cost for installation of soil conservation practices that prevent or control excessive erosion. Soil and water conservation districts provide technical support with the design, implementation and maintenance of practices.
By promoting good farming techniques that help keep soil on the fields and waters clean, each soil and water conservation district is conserving the productivity of Missouri’s working lands.
History of the Greene County SWCD
In 1935, Congress set up the Soil Conservation Service as an agency under the Department of Agriculture. In 1937, the Standard State Soil Conservation law was developed. This act provided for the organization of soil conservation districts as governmental subdivisions of the state in order to carry on projects for erosion control.
Then, in 1943, Missouri’s General Assembly passed Senate Bill 80, the Soil Districts Law, which ultimately became Chapter 278 of the Missouri Revised Statutes. Gradually over the next 49 years counties across Missouri have been forming local soil and water conservation districts.
The Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District was formed in 1969. The district is locally led by farmers who live within the county and are elected by other farmers in the county to serve four-year terms.
The cost-share program provides financial incentives to landowners for up to 75 percent of the cost for installation of soil conservation practices that prevent or control excessive erosion and runoff. The agricultural nonpoint source special area land treatment program (AgNPS SALT) is one example of how this money has been used to help landowners. The AgNPS SALT program provides funding for five to seven year projects that focus on decreasing sediments, pesticides and nutrients from entering waterways. About $20 million is allocated annually to the cost-share program while $6.8 million is provided for the AgNPS SALT program. Soil and water conservation districts also provide technical support with the design, implementation and maintenance of practices.
By promoting good farming techniques that help keep soil on the fields and our waters clean, the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District is working with landowners to conserve and protect farmland in the State of Missouri.