Yesterday, Secretary Tom Vilsack began the day with a speech to the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) annual convention. Vilsack discussed the partnership and connection between the Natural Resources Cconservation Service, UDSA and the SWCS, and thanked the members for their hard work as boots on the ground implementing conservation practices across the country. He noted the importance of showing landowners the economic as well as environmental benefits, and encouraging the audience to be proactive in educating clients about how USDA and conservation can work for them. Vilsack also announced $18.4 million in Conservation Innovation Grants to fund 55 projects in 34 states and the Caribbean Area.
These grants help to develop and refine cutting-edge technologies and approaches that will help farmers conserve and sustain natural resources on their operations. The program targets innovative, on-the-ground conservation, including pilot projects and field demonstrations.
Vilsack then traveled to Charlotte, Mich. for his ninth rural tour stop where more than 500 local residents participated in a rural community forum lead by the Secretary. Senator Stabenow and Congressman Shauer also participated in the wide-ranging discussion of issues facing rural Michiganders. As in recent community forums, issues facing dairy farmers were a hot topic, and Vilsack emphasized USDA’s ongoing efforts to find ways to assist struggling dairy producers.
He also highlighted the impact of the Obama Administration’s efforts to jump-start the economy in rural America through the Recovery Act. We want to hear about your experiences and stories; please visit the USDA Recovery Web site to Tell Your Story today.