Green River National Wildlife Refuge Seeking Agricultural Producers

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking an agricultural cooperator for it’s Cooperative Agriculture Program at Green River National Wildlife Refuge in Henderson, KY. The cooperator(s) will have use of up to approximately 581 and/or 551 acres in Henderson County for up to a period of 5 years.

The selected party will operate under a Cooperative Agriculture Agreement as a “cooperator” with the Service. Under this Agreement, the Service is proposing that the cooperator will be responsible for producing grain crops for the benefit of wildlife on approximately 25% of the acres in exchange for the exclusive rights to produce and harvest crops consisting of corn, soybeans, wheat, milo, or millet on the remaining 75% of the acres.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service policy prohibits the use neonicotinoids and restrictions to pesticide type and traditional application procedures may apply. All pesticides must be pre-approved under a pesticide use permit for the refuge, annually.

Applications will only be accepted between July 10 - July 24, 2024. Application envelopes must be received in the refuge office by July 24, 2024 at 10:00 am. Applications are to be submitted to the Refuge Headquarters in a sealed envelope marked Cooperative Agriculture Proposal, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Envelopes may be submitted either by mail, P.O. Box 89 Benton, KY 42025, or hand delivered to the refuge office, 91 U.S. Hwy 641 N, Benton, KY 42025. Proposals may also be emailed to the Refuge Manager at Michael_Johnson@fws.gov.

Cooperator Selection

The cooperator will be selected through an open and competitive process where applications will be scored and ranked by the following criteria (additional evaluation procedures may be applied):

· Experience and knowledge in cultivation of grain crops

· Personal experience on NWR lands or comparable conservation land.

· Ability to successfully cultivate crops under seed treatment and chemical restrictions (e.g non-neonicotinoid pesticides, chemical type and application procedures).

· Ownership or access to the proper equipment, materials, labor, or other resources to participate in the cooperative agriculture agreement.

· Proximity of personnel to monitor crops and respond to crop health or pest issues

· Scale and location of operations that ensures planting and harvest within first available window of opportunity

· Other relative criteria

Parcels Available

Cooperative producer(s) is sought for 2 parcels:

  1. Approximately 581 acres Farm 9652, Tract 14772, FSA Fields 5, 7, 16, 23, 21, 22, 15, 9, 25, 13, 10, 24; Tract 14773, FSA Fields 2 and 3; Tract 14772 Field 4.
  2. Approximately 551 acres Farm 9652, Tract 11070, Field 1b; Tract 14773, Field 14, 11, 12, 20, 8, 26, 1a, 2,6,3,17,18, and 19.

For questions or more information, contact Refuge Manager Michael Johnson by phone at 270-527-5770 ext. 205 or by email at Michael_Johnson@fws.gov

Applicant Information

Interested applicants should complete the Form 3-1383-C and answer additional information below:

Name (Proposal Submitter) Partner (if applicable) Name of Business (if applicable) 

Address

Telephone Number 

E-mail address

Describe your background, knowledge and experience to meet the objective criteria by which the Service will evaluate your application as outlined in the Service’s Notice of Cooperative Agricultural Opportunity.

1. Important Dates for Your Proposed Operations (e.g. planting dates, harvest dates):

(Note: Access to fields will not be permitted until April 1 of each year. Harvest must be completed by November 15th of each year or upon request for extension.)

2. Details on Agriculture Practices (e.g. planting, pest control, and harvest methods):

(Note: Experience planting in wet conditions, applying pesticides under FWS limitations and approvals, and farming heavy clay, poorly drained soils.)

3. Relevant Knowledge and Experience:

(Note: Provide information specifically related to personal experience on FWS lands or comparable land (i.e. state wildlife management areas. If none, describe your knowledge and experience on private lands, years framed, acres, crop types, etc..).

4. Ownership or Access to the Following Equipment:

(Note: Challenges of operating in heavy clay, poorly drained soils may require specialized equipment. Tractors and combines equipped with specialized attachments, such as tracks to ensure minimal rutting, ground-applied spray equipment for application of pesticides, other specialized equipment, etc.)

5. Number of Staff, Sub-contractors:

(Note: Sub-contracting is not permitted with the exception of crop consultants, field/insect scouts, certified aerial or ground applicators of pesticides, and custom harvesting if necessary due to weather.)

6. Additional equipment and work force to expand your operation by +862 and/or 271 acres.

7. Do you currently have the finances to manage an additional +862 and/or 271 acres? If not, do you know that you can acquire the needed finances?

8. At this late date, can you acquire the seed that meets refuge requirements? Can you meet our prohibition of seed treated with neonicotinoids?

9. Capabilities to routinely scout crops to allow for a timely application of pesticides to control weeds, insects, and diseases:

10. Location of your primary farm operation, include distance from area for which applying:

(Note: Preference given to cooperators within the local commuting area to ensure rapid response to issues, flood conditions, equipment problems, timely planting and harvest, meeting with refuge staff, etc.)

12. Provide three landowners or references familiar with your background, knowledge, and experience and their contact information.

13. Scale of Operations: Spring planting windows are often short for wet agricultural lands. Can you say with confidence your operation is big/small enough to immediately seize upon planting windows associated with the lands being sought through this solicitation?

14. What assurance can you give us that the refuge share will be consistently planted in a timely manner and treated the same as your crop; keeping in mind that the refuge share may be taken in wetter areas that can be flooded?

15. Refuge requirements relative to use of pesticides may differ in chemical type and in application procedures to that of other tracts of land farmed through your operation. Will this affect your ability to plant and maintain crops in a timely manner on refuge lands? Why or why not?

16. What is the distance from the nearest tract of farmland tended through your operation to that in which you are applying to tend?

17. Are you willing and do you have the resources/capabilities to conduct general farm upkeep such as bush hogging, general road maintenance, general levee upkeep, general maintenance of drainage ditches and irrigation assets?

For more information, contact Refuge Manager Michael Johnson by phone at 270-527-5770 ext. 205 or by email at Michael_Johnson@fws.gov

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Agriculture
Farms and farming systems