Arkansas Rice Growers implement precise water management to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by utilizing poly pipe and alternate wetting and drying. Photo credit: Adam Chambers.
Imagine a rice farmer in Arkansas altering his water management techniques to deliver water more efficiently and use fewer days of flooding, allowing for more precise water and nutrient management while maintaining consistent yields. After a decision by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), in addition to improving water quality and reducing water use and nutrient input costs, that Arkansas farmer now has the option of selling carbon credits to large regulated emitters in California.
In 2012, California put in place a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions, one of the most aggressive climate change programs in the world. Last week’s groundbreaking vote by CARB adopted the first crop-based agricultural offset protocol, designed to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions from rice production. Methane and nitrous oxide are potent greenhouse gases emitted through the cultivation and fertilization of rice fields. Read more »
The cover of the new document, “Building a Water Quality Trading Program: Options and Considerations”
USDA is committed to protecting streams, rivers and lakes through agricultural conservation, and has a long history of working with partners to implement the practices and policies needed to meet water quality goals. One of these policies, water quality trading, can help communities develop innovative, practical solutions for improving water quality, while generating environmental benefits at lower cost and increasing investment in rural America. At least twelve states have established one or more water quality trading programs—but creating the trading rules, working with stakeholders, and running a trading program can be difficult.
In 2013, The National Network on Water Quality Trading began as a dialogue between 18 organizations to tackle the challenges involved with establishing water quality markets. The Network represents a variety of perspectives, including farmers, utilities, environmental groups, regulatory agencies, and others interested in water quality trading. USDA participated in the process as a technical advisor. Read more »
Lamprey, or Asum in the native language, are a culturally significant food source to the Yakama Tribe. Here, Deputy Under Secretary Mills joins members of the Tribe in releasing lamprey into the Toppenish Creek as part of the tribe's reintroduction program. NRCS photo.
Recently, I visited the 1.1 million acre Yakama Nation reservation located in southwestern Washington State. Touring the reservation, I was able to see first hand how funds from the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) will help the over 10,000 members of the Yakama tribe.
Through RCPP, NRCS is working with the tribe to accelerate the recovery of fish stocks, including the Middle Columbia Steelhead, reconnect floodplains and improve irrigation water conservation. Read more »
Senator Patrick Leahy, (left, at podium) speaks at a commemoration on Capitol Hill of this year’s 25th anniversary of the Forest Legacy Program and other initiatives that help states and communities conserve forest land. The Senator authored forest conservation programs that he first included in the 1990 Farm Bill, when he chaired the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. Photo courtesy of Jay Tilton, office of Senator Leahy.
Patrick Leahy is Vermont’s senior U.S. senator and led in authoring forest conservation programs that he first included in the 1990 Farm Bill, when he chaired the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. Robert Bonnie is USDA’s undersecretary for natural resources and environment. This week they headed a commemoration on Capitol Hill of this year’s 25th anniversary of the Forest Legacy Program and other initiatives that help states and communities conserve forest land. Wayne Maloney, Office of Communications
Twenty-five years ago, the Senate’s 1990 Leahy-Lugar Farm Bill authorized the creation of three pivotal forestry programs that today are a resounding success. The Forest Legacy, Forest Stewardship and Urban and Cooperative Forestry Programs help private and state forest landowners keep their forests healthy. That in turn supports tens of thousands of jobs, benefiting rural and urban communities across the nation. This week we joined in a celebration in the Capitol Hill Visitors Center marking this milestone. Read more »
Bi-State sage-grouse live at the California-Nevada border, and biologists estimate that between 1,800 and 7,400 of these ground-dwelling birds inhabit about 4.5 acres of sagebrush habitat. Bureau of Land Management photo.
We can achieve more when we voluntarily work together, and the decision today not to list the Bi-State sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act proves the power of partnerships. In this case, collectively, we were able to proactively conserve and restore habitat for this geographically distinct sage-grouse.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service works with conservation partners and ranchers in Nevada and California to take steps to benefit sage-grouse habitat while also helping ranchers improve their ranching operations. Meanwhile, this work helps connect public lands like national forests, where U.S. Forest Service is working to restore habitat, too. Read more »
Flood control and prevention tour participants (L-R) NRCS State Engineer Tim Haakenstad, NRD Assistant General Manager Marlin Petermann, Under Secretary Robert Bonnie, State Conservationist Craig Derickson and NRCS District Conservationist Neil Jensen. NRCS photo.
The saying, “When it rains, it pours,” can often apply to the heavy rain events in Omaha, Neb. where flooding is a concern. Due to the large amount of hard surfaces – roofs, parking lots, streets, etc. – a lot of the rainfall doesn’t soak into the ground. This generates runoff, which can quickly lead to flooding.
On a recent tour, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie was able to see firsthand how the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) flood control projects are helping to protect lives and property in Omaha. Read more »