Conservation program comments sought

Public comments are being accepted through Jan. 5 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service on changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program.

The program rules were published in the Federal Register on Nov. 5 and can be found at

“As conservation leaders, farmers and ranchers in Louisiana will be pleased by the program changes,” said Kevin Norton, NRCS state conservationist in Louisiana.

The CSP helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities. Participants earn CSP payments for conservation performance — the higher the performance, the higher the payment.

Congress changed CSP in the 2014 farm bill. The changes are designed to improve the competitive nature of the program, including raising the bar for the quality of projects enrolled and increasing the number of priority resources to be addressed during the term of the CSP contract.

The interim final rule also expands the reach of the program to include special funding pools for farmers and ranchers who are veterans of the U.S. Armed Services. It updates requirements for contract renewal, uses science-based stewardship to determine program eligibility and success, and expands program enrollment to include lands protected under the new Agricultural Conservation Easements Program and that are in the last year of the Conservation Reserve Program.

BR center hosting Latin American entrepreneurs

The Louisiana Business & Technology Center at LSU has been selected to participate in a mentoring program for Latin American entrepreneurs funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

The program educates businesses from Pacific Alliance countries on how to do business in the United States. Five entrepreneurs will be selected from Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru for the LBTC program in Baton Rouge.

“The entrepreneurs selected to visit Louisiana are from the food and agriculture industries,” LBTC Executive Director Charles D’Agostino said. “This is a perfect fit, since Louisiana is known for fine cuisine, and we have a world-class food incubator at the LSU AgCenter that will participate with us, along with local chefs and food production companies.”

The entrepreneurs will receive in-depth training and mentoring in Baton Rouge for two weeks in February. The goal is to help these business owners understand the U.S. and local business environments, as well as the legal and tax requirements for conducting business with the U.S.

Vivid Ink Graphics relocates headquarters

Vivid Ink Graphics has moved its Baton Rouge headquarters to a larger facility at 8640 Airline Highway to accommodate its recent growth.

Vivid was in the Industriplex area for 14 years and also has production facilities in New Orleans.

The former Circuit City property was renovated into a 31,000-square-foot production center on the corner of Airline Highway and Florida Boulevard.

Vivid Ink Graphics, founded in 1999 by Stephen St. Cyr and Collin Keller, began as a large-format digital printer. It has expanded services by adding large-format screen-printing capabilities and small-format digital printing.