Join us in celebrating National Ag Day on March 22nd!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 22, 2022
By Scott HALPIN, State Executive Director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency; Ivan Dozier, State Conservationist for USDA’s
Natural Resources Conservation Service; and Brian Frieden, Regional Office Director for USDA’s Risk Management Agency
March 22 is National Ag Day, a time for us to thank farmers and ranchers for feeding, sheltering and powering our nation. We also want to celebrate and recognize the pivotal role of producers in mitigating climate change through voluntary conservation efforts. Climate change is happening, evidenced by persistent drought, frequent tornadoes and storms, and larger and more powerful wildfires. Our agricultural communities are on the frontlines. Now is the time for us to act, and Illinois producers are doing their part. We’re focused on providing producers tools to help mitigate climate change. As part of this, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken proactive steps to improve programs.
FSA bolstered the Conservation Reserve Program, providing an incentive for climate-smart practices and investing in partnerships to better quantify the benefits of this program. With our Environmental Quality Incentives Program, we launched a new cover crop initiative as well as new conservation incentive contract option, all with a goal to make available additional funds to help producers conserve natural resources. And finally, we’re enhancing Federal crop insurance to support conservation. In 2021 and 2022, we provided producers with a premium benefit for acres planted to cover crops.
You might be wondering, why so much emphasis on cover crops? Cover crops help soil sequester more carbon, a key tool for mitigating climate change; they prevent runoff, leading to cleaner water; and they boost production through improved soil health. But cover crops are just one tool, NRCS also has programs to assist producers with mitigating climate change.
Producers interested in applying new climate-smart practices across their operations may be eligible for financial support through the NRCS conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Download the NRCS Fiscal Year 2022 Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Mitigation Activity List to see the full list of mitigation activities, including practices available through EQIP and enhancements available through CSP. NRCS is continually evaluating and updating our conservation activities to ensure the latest data and quantifiable benefits are reflected. The list will continue to be updated to reflect the latest science and any practice modifications.
Our staffs work one-on-one with producers to conserve natural resources, grow and improve their operations, and manage risk. This year’s National Ag Day theme is “Growing a Climate for Tomorrow.” We know from firsthand experience – farmers are doing this. On National Ag Day, and every day, we encourage you to thank a farmer or rancher for food, fiber, and fuel – and our future.
Scott Halpin, State Executive Director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency, can be reached at Scott.firstname.lastname@example.org. Ivan Dozier, State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, can be reached at email@example.com. Brian Frieden, Regional Office Director for USDA’s Risk Management Agency, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Producers interested in USDA programs are encouraged to contact their local USDA Service Center.