Conservation efforts begin at a time of tight budgets
The USDA recently published a column highlighting land and water conservation efforts.
According to the report, natural resource conservation is paramount to the ongoing strength of our nation. Healthy soil contributes to agricultural productivity. Healthy forests clean our water and air. Vibrant waterways are critical for our health, for transportation and for trade. Investments into conservation spur job growth and community development, particularly in rural areas.
The department stated that this is an uncertain time for conservation activities. Congress has not yet passed a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that would continue to invest in conservation efforts, while providing rural America with certainty regarding many other important programs.
Amidst the uncertainty with banks, farmers, and the food stamp program, the U.S. needs to continue to work on developing conservation efforts, so that valuable resources we now hold do not deteriorate.
Recently the USDA invested in innovation by awarding new grants under the Conservation Innovation Grants program.
According to the report, new technologies and tactics are constantly emerging that help producers and landowners care for the environment. These 33 new awards will help organizations across the country carry out advanced new conservation strategies and share them with producers. For example, several projects will investigate the benefits of cover crops, which could help producers grow more while increasing the health of their soil as well as mitigate climate change.
These new project awards are part of more than 260 projects funded since 2009, including a special group of Conservation Innovation Grants to help agriculture adapt to drought.
The USDA also invested this week in the future of renewable energy from wood products. The organization announced a partnership with industry to work toward additional wood-to-energy projects, similar to the wood-to-energy projects currently underway in Alexandria, LA.
Advanced wood energy provides a wide range of benefits for our nation. It encourages forest restoration by providing a new way to use wood byproducts. It contributes to an “all-of-the above” energy strategy, giving folks an alternative to costly energy sources. It also helps to create good jobs in energy and forestry for rural Americans. According to the report, to cap a week of positive new developments for USDA conservation efforts, the department announced that the U.S. Forest Service will partner with Coca-Cola, the National Forest Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in a long-term effort to restore and clean waterways in our National Forests.
National Forests provide drinking water for more than 60 million Americans. In addition, USDA and Coca-Cola will undertake a range of projects in the coming years to restore forest waterways.
Our hope is that these restoration projects will stand as an example for the benefit of public-private partnership to deliver results for the American people, even in a time of tighter budgets.
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