Tag Archives: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

What to know about conservation compliance

By Erin Herbold-Swalwell, Farm Progress

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in his address at the 2021 Commodity Classic, said that work on “climate-smart ag” should begin before the next farm bill. Proposed increases in funding of the Conservation Reserve Program and an increased emphasis on carbon credits and carbon banks, renewable energy, and other environmental matters bring different opportunities for farm families, but also remind us that we need to understand the rules of enrollment in USDA programs. Read more here.

USDA Conservation Programs

The USDA offers voluntary, incentive-based conservation opportunities to landowners through local field offices in nearly every county of the nation. USDA helped landowners develop conservation plans and enrolled a record number of acres of private working lands in conservation programs, working with more than 500,000 farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that clean the air we breathe, conserve and clean the water we drink, prevent soil erosion and create and protect wildlife habitat. USDA support – leveraged with historic outside investments – helped support producer incomes and reward them for their good work.

USDA Resources

Nebraska News

Farmers express interest in possible carbon reduction methods, by Jerry Guenther, Norfolk Daily News

More USDA Resources

Center for Agricultural Profitability

The interdisciplinary Center for Agricultural Profitabilitywhich was approved March 11, 2021, facilitates faculty research, conducts outreach related to agricultural profitability and trains undergraduate and graduate students — all to support informed decision-making in agriculture through applied research and education.

Center for Agricultural Profitability Webinars – Archived & Upcoming

Ricketts’ order on 30-by-30 conservation effort is short on actual roadblocks

By Martha Stoddard, Omaha World-Herald

LINCOLN — In his battle against the federal government, Gov. Pete Ricketts has directed state agencies to take “any necessary step” to resist a federal initiative to conserve 30% of American land and waters by 2030. He signed the executive order last month, in the leafy shade of the garden at the Governor’s Mansion, flanked by allies from rural county governments and agricultural organizations.

Ricketts said his order is aimed at stopping implementation of what he calls “the 30×30 land grab.” But a closer look at the order shows it to be long on education and information-gathering and short on steps that would block the expansion of conservation efforts. Read more here.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

Working with Individual Landowners on Conservation

The USDA provides voluntary, incentive-based conservation to landowners through local field offices in nearly every county of the nation. USDA helped landowners develop conservation plans and enrolled a record number of acres of private working lands in conservation programs, working with more than 500,000 farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that clean the air we breathe, conserve and clean the water we drink, prevent soil erosion and create and protect wildlife habitat. USDA support – leveraged with historic outside investments – helped support producer incomes and reward them for their good work.

Learn more about USDA’s conservation programs.

CENTER FOR AGRICULTURAL PROFITABILITY AT UNL

The interdisciplinary Center for Agricultural Profitability, which was approved March 11, 2021, facilitates faculty research, conducts outreach related to agricultural profitability and trains undergraduate and graduate students — all to support informed decision-making in agriculture through applied research and education.

Center for Agricultural Profitability Webinars – Archived & Upcoming

Analyzing the Proposed 30×30 Conservation Plan, July 22, 2021
With: Dave Aiken, Professor and Agricultural Law & Water Specialist, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

On Jan. 27, President Biden signed his climate action executive order, pledging, among other things, to conserve at least 30% of U.S. land and water by 2030. On May 6, an interagency report to the president provided some detail for implementing the 30×30 plan. The report pledges to honor private property rights and to honor existing voluntary stewardship efforts of private landowners as well as building on existing land and water conservation programs. Aiken describes the proposed 30×30 program and discusses how the U.S. may be closer to reaching 30% land protection than most realize.

Conservation Program Opportunities for Producers and Landowners, July 8, 2021
With Brad Lubben, Extension Associate Professor and Policy Specialist, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Agricultural Economics; Doug Klein, Conservation and Price Support Programs Chief, USDA FSA Nebraska State Office; and Brad Soncksen, Assistant State Conservationist, USDA NRCS State Office.

Ag groups recommend USDA use pilot projects to build a carbon bank

AgDaily

The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, which includes 70 agriculture organizations, has worked over the past three months to develop specific recommendations for how the U.S. Department of Agriculture should approach a potential carbon bank. FACA began sharing those recommendations with USDA and Congress.

A voluntary, USDA-led carbon bank is one policy mechanism being considered to help reduce barriers that producers and landowners face to participating in voluntary carbon markets and adopting climate-smart practices. FACA recommends that USDA lay the foundation for a potential carbon bank by first developing a series of pilot projects that would focus on the following four areas: Continue reading here.

USDA INVESTS IN RESEARCH INNOVATIONS

USDA Invests $21.7M in Research Innovations to Improve Soil Health and Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2021 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will invest at least $21.7 million in several key programs to help agricultural producers manage the impacts of climate change on their lands and production. NIFA awarded $6.3 million for 14 Soil Health grants and $5.4 million for seven Signals in the Soil grants through its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). NIFA also is investing at least $10 million this year in a new AFRI program area priority called, “Extension, Education, and USDA Climate Hub Partnerships,” to train the next generation of agriculturalists and foresters to incorporate climate change research into their management practices.

About USDA’s Northern Plains Climate Hub
The Northern Plains Hub serves Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota. The Hub delivers science-based knowledge, practical information, management & conservation strategies, and decision tools to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners with the goal of helping them adapt to weather variability and changing climatic conditions. See::Topics

MORE NEWS RELEASES: USDA RURAL DEVELOPMENT / NEBRASKA 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

A Proclamation on Earth Day, 2021

By President Joseph R. Biden, The White House

On April 22, 1970, millions of Americans rallied together to protect the right of all of us to live free from environmental hazard and harm.  On that first Earth Day, they gathered all across America — on college campuses, in public parks, and State capitals — galvanized by a vision of a healthier, more prosperous Nation where all people could thrive.  Their untiring spirit sparked a national movement for environmental protection that endures today in the bedrock laws that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and treasured wild places and wildlife.

Earth Day was primarily conceived and brought to life by a dedicated public servant:  the late Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin.  Senator Nelson and his wife, Carrie Lee -– who herself passed away just last month –- were both dear friends who changed my life; it was Senator Nelson who helped persuade me to remain in the Senate after losing my first wife and daughter in a car accident in 1972.  Senator Nelson changed the world, too, by building a legacy of environmental protection through Earth Day and all of the progress that has come in its wake –- not because it was popular, but because it was the right thing to do for our children and grandchildren.

Over half a century later, that legacy lives on in the chorus of courageous young people across the world who are rising up to demand action on climate change.

Read the entire proclamation here.

Additional White House Briefing Room Releases & Statements

Statement by Secretary Vilsack on the President’s FY22 Discretionary Funding Request

USDA News Release

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2021 — The Biden-Harris Administration today submitted to Congress the President’s priorities for fiscal year 2022 discretionary spending. The funding request invests in the core foundations of our country’s strength and advances key U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) priorities, including economic development and growth in rural America, maintaining support for American agriculture, rebuilding scientific expertise in our agencies, aiding in an all-of-government approach to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and supporting a strong safety net to address hunger and nutrition insecurity. Continue reading here.

Download the FY22 budget summary here.

Related Reading: How a new infrastructure package could impact Rural America, Agweek article by Sara Wyant, President and founder of Agri-Pulse Communications Inc.

Vilsack Brings To-Do List As He Starts New Stint As Agriculture Secretary

By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming


Boosted by a landslide confirmation vote in the Senate, Tom Vilsack will begin his second stint as agriculture secretary on Wednesday facing problems from the pandemic and climate change to rising hunger rates in America. His own list of goals is much longer and each item on it is a blockbuster.

“We’re going to be a USDA that represents and serves all Americans,” said Vilsack soon after the Senate confirmed his nomination, 92-7, on Tuesday.

 Continue reading here.

Opening Statement of Thomas J. Vilsack Before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry – Remarks as Prepared

Also written by Chuck Abbot: Agriculture may be ‘first and best’ place for climate gains, says Vilsack

Additional Recommended Reading

USDA Invests Over $300 Million to Help Hundreds of Small Businesses Improve Energy Efficiency, Adopt Renewable Energy Systems

Tom Vilsack
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing more than $300 million to help hundreds of small businesses across the country save money on their energy costs by adopting renewable sources or implementing more efficient energy options. Vilsack made the announcement at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas, today during a meeting with several local business owners who will make use of these loans and grants.

Continue reading.


ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

REAPing America’s Clean Energy Future, USDA Blog, Posted by Sam Rikkers, Administrator for Rural Business and Cooperative Servicecentral-city

Today, Secretary Vilsack announced hundreds of new projects like the one I visited over the summer in Central City, Nebraska.  It exemplifies the strategic thinking our rural communities use daily to find new ways to prosper.  A community just shy of 3,000 residents, Central City is home to the first community solar garden project ever developed in Nebraska. Read the entire post.

Photo: Administrator Sam Rikkers (left) discusses the Central City Solar Garden Project with (L-R) City Administrator Chris Anderson, Cliff Mesner of Mesner Development Company (with his back to the camera), and Bill Sheppard and Jeff Carpenter of USDA Rural Development’s Nebraska offices.

SEE ALSO
USDA Seeks Applications for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Loans and Grants
Nebraska Contact for the Rural Energy for America Program

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack talks expanding economic opportunities in rural America

By Joseph Morton, World-Herald Bureau

vilsackIn particular, he talked about the need to continue supporting renewable fuels and the bio-based industry. A new report says that industry contributes $393 billion to the economy, he said, adding that it has helped rural areas recover from the Great Recession by supporting 4.2 million jobs. The administration, he said, has tried to shift rural areas from an extraction economy to something that is more sustainable. “This is really about taking the natural resource advantage that we have in rural America and expanding its capacity,” he said. “For far too long we relied simply on production agriculture and exports to support the rural economy.” Read more here.

NEWS RELEASE: USDA Provides Funding for More than $1.8 Million Nebraska Renewable Energy Projects in Federal Fiscal Year 2015

Tom VilsackWASHINGTON, District of Columbia – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that USDA has selected Mid America Agri Products/Wheatland, LLC of Madrid, NE to receive $500,000 for ethanol production and Aaron Ross of Columbus, NE to receive $41,250 for wind energy.

These two projects bring the Federal Fiscal Year 2015 funding in Nebraska to 70 projects for $1,806,905 through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) for renewable energy/energy efficiency projects.  Through these projects, enough energy was generated or saved to power 4,808 homes. Additionally, an energy auditing program was funded under the REAP Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance for $71,363.

Read the entire news release here.

See additional Nebraska grant awards for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects here: Rural Energy for America Program – October 26, 2015 (PDF)

Nebraska Cooperative Included in USDA Awards of Nearly $2.3 Billion in Loans for 77 Rural Electric Infrastructure Projects

Tom VilsackWASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack [yesterday] announced nearly $2.3 billion in loans to build and improve rural electric infrastructure in 31 states.

“Improving our rural electric utility systems will help us continue to provide reliable and affordable electricity to rural customers,” Vilsack said. “By financing these improvements, USDA helps increase efficiencies, reduce carbon emissions and improve the quality of life in rural areas.”

USDA is awarding loans to 77 utilities and cooperatives in 31 states. The funding includes more than $108 million for smart grid technology, $41 million for renewable energy improvements and $9 million for storm damage repairs. These loans will help build or improve 12,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines.

Read more here. 

In Nebraska the Midwest Electric Cooperative Corporation in Grant was awarded a loan of $7,919,000, involving 194 total miles of line, with $1,042,700 for smart grid techology: http://www.rd.usda.gov/files/RDRUSElectricLoansRecipientsOct2015.pdf