“The Conservation Innovation Grant program has an impressive track record of fostering innovative conservation tools and strategies,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as he announced $20 million in new funding for the program. “Successes in the program can translate into new opportunities for historically underserved landowners, help resolve pressing water conservation challenges and leverage new investments in conservation partnerships with farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders.”
Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) fosters innovation in conservation tools and strategies to improve things like on-farm energy and fertilizer use as well as market-based strategies to improve water quality or mitigate climate change. Last year CIG began supporting the burgeoning field of conservation finance and impact investing to attract more private dollars to science-based solutions to benefit both producers and the environment. Read more »
Brian Parkinson grows cereal rye and other varieties of cover crops near Milan, Ill. Parkinson works with NRCS District Conservationist Joe Gates to make conservation improvements to his land. Photo courtesy of NRCS.
The mighty Mississippi – it’s a river with a history of romance and enchantment. Native Americans depended on the Mississippi River for food and water, and world explorers came in search of its riches.
Over time, farmsteads dotted the land, and small towns grew to large cities. Today, we see the fruits of our labor as industry, commerce and agriculture continue to thrive in the basin. But those successes come with environmental challenges. Many of the basin’s waterways suffer from poor water quality. Read more »
Getting from Point A to Point B is sometimes a difficult task; that’s why we have maps. However, making maps is not always easy, either, especially when the image you’re trying to capture is carried on the wind.
For nearly 40 years a coalition of government, education, industry, and other organizations has worked to monitor “precipitation chemistry” – in other words, tracking the makeup and whereabouts of acid rain. Their latest efforts have resulted in maps that indicate how nitrogen deposition in the United States threatens aquatic life in the Gulf of Mexico. Read more »
Tim Malone, center, is a NRCS district conservationist in Tazewell County, Ill. Here he leads a watershed tour. (NRCS photo)
Rivers are special places, and for me, the Illinois and Macinaw rivers in central Illinois are my special places. Both rivers eventually send their waters to the Mississippi River, and the area provides habitat for wildlife as well as recreational opportunities like hunting and fishing.
But the rivers suffer from streambank erosion, soil erosion, sedimentation and nutrient runoff. We all hear about the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Mississippi, which is caused by high levels of nutrients in the water.
Water quality is important to me as a conservationist and motivates me as a conservationist. I am interested in conservation and wildlife habitat – both as a citizen that enjoys the outdoors as well as my job as a district conservationist in Tazewell County, Ill. with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Read more »
S.E. Felter worked these flooded fields as a teen. Now, the Adams County supervisor is hoping the water recedes quickly from the inundated agricultural community.
During S.E. Felter’s early teen years, he baled hay a few miles from his Adams County, Miss. home. But now the land Felter worked as a youngster is a lake, after the Mississippi River swelled its banks and pushed water inland along creeks and rivers. Read more »
Secretary Vilsack on the Mississippi River with a grain elevator towering behind him, highlighted how the Korea trade agreement would eliminate tariffs on two-thirds of all U.S. ag exports to Korea and bring $1.8 billion export growth.
I spent yesterday in St. Louis, talking about the importance of trade and smart trade deals to America’s rebounding economy. Within 500 miles of St. Louis, farmers are producing more than three quarters of the nation’s corn and soybean crops, injecting $75 billion into the global economy, supporting 265,000 jobs, and producing $131 billion in crops and livestock. Meanwhile, the Mississippi River moves about 500 million tons of cargo each year, including 60 percent of the nation’s grain exports, accounting for $8.5 billion in exports. USDA recently reported that grain barge traffic around St. Louis is up 126 percent over last year, underscoring the importance of St. Louis to the national economy as a hub for U.S. farm exports. As the heart of the nation’s farm economy, St. Louis is pumping life into the overall economy. Read more »