Donnie Nero Restores Family Farm
Donnie and Shirley Nero moved to Clearview, Okla., which is an original Historical Black Town, to return to Shirley’s family farm. Donnie, retired President of Connors State College, started working with the Okfuskee Conservation District, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in 2002 to improve his land and grazing operation.
In 2002, Donnie received cost share from Oklahoma State Cost Share Program to construct a livestock pond on the property. Mark Maples, Okfuskee County NRCS District Conservationist, and staff provided technical assistance for the design
and construction of the pond and drafted a Conservation Plan for Donnie and Shirley.
Later that year, the Nero’s entered into an Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contract with the NRCS, in which he sprigged Bermudagrass and fertilized pastures in 2003 to address their pastures’ resource concerns and start yielding more forage for their grazing operation. Under this contract Donnie, also, followed a Prescribed Grazing Plan.
To continue fulfilling his Conservation Plan, Donnie signed up for another EQIP contract and also applied to participate in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) in 2015. Participaing in CSP allowed Donnie to further improve his existing conservation efforts while strengthening his operation.
Donnie’s most recent EQIP contract was completed in 2017. Under this contract, Donnie removed the invasive brush, such as Red Cedar and Winged Elm.
According to Maples, “The Nero’s land looks ten-fold better than the day he stepped foot on it.” Nero said that with the annual spraying and fertilization through CSP and the work he has been able to accomplish through EQIP and State Cost Share he has been able to see the benefits of conservation and says that “the money was absolutely worth it.”
The Nero’s have also established farm records with FSA. They have participated in the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage program through FSA and they also participate in the Livestock Forage Program.
Donnie plans to take the same plan of action with the additional acreage that he purchased recently. As his long term goal is to reach a herd of 50 cattle, he will, without a doubt, continue to use conservation forward management. He also aspires to help the next generations realize and reap the rewards of helping the land.
If you are an agricultural producer and would like to know more about USDA Farm Bill programs, address soil health and improve health and vigor of your forage, or if you are in need of technical assistance on your land never hesitate to call or walk in to your local Conservation District, Farm Service Agency, or Natural Resources Conservation Service.