Ag Day Op-Ed
Celebrate National Ag Day by committing to combating climate change
by Jerry Raynor, State Conservationist
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
Climate change is happening, and we are already feeling its adverse effects through changing weather patterns and increased extreme weather events. All of us at USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, in Indiana and throughout the country, as well as our partners with the Indiana Conservation Partnership have been called to work on the frontlines to reduce the long-term impacts.
The conservation practices implemented by farmers and forest landowners here in Indiana and on working lands across the country can make a lasting impact on the environment and help to mitigate climate change’s trajectory. Rural communities make up 97% of America, providing ample opportunity for us to assist in our nation’s effort to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change.
As we celebrate National Ag Day today, the Agriculture Council of America has chosen “Agriculture: Growing a Climate for Tomorrow” as this year’s theme. It is a call to action for farmers, rural communities and agencies such as NRCS to work together to combat climate change.
Indiana NRCS is your partner in this fight. We are committed to help build resilient agriculture systems that are able to withstand current weather pattern changes and to work to implement conservation practices that assist in mitigating climate change overall.
The motto of NRCS is “helping people help the land” and this is supported by our commitment to healthy soil, improved water and air quality, increased wildlife habitat and, through it all, the application of climate-smart agricultural practices.
NRCS has taken steps to lead in this fight and many of the practices already being implement by Hoosier farmers and landowners are key parts of this effort. No-till farming reduces emissions by limiting the number of passes required by equipment in the fields. Minimizing disturbance of the soil also helps to keep harmful greenhouse gases such as carbon sequestered in fields. When combined with cover crops and a nutrient management plan, farmers can have a lasting impact on the environment while also improving their operations, reducing inputs and increasing yields.
Nationally, NRCS has directly targeted funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to support climate-smart agriculture and forestry. Practices already being implemented through EQIP in Indiana make a positive impact while also helping farmers’ operations, and cover crop adoption is at a record high with an estimated 1.5 million acres of overwinter living covers planted. Nationally, more than $400 million has been invested through the traditional Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) and RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangements across 100 projects to mitigate climate change and address natural resource challenges. Additional funds have been allocated through Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) aimed at developing innovative practices and the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP) which leverages NRCS and partner resources to restore critical watersheds.
This is just the start, and we need your help to make a lasting change. We are committed to working with all Hoosier farmers to implement these practices and more, regardless of whether you are farming thousands of acres, operate a small urban farm or fall somewhere in-between. We must work together to make a difference.
If you are interested in helping your land and operation, conserving natural resources and building the agricultural systems of the future while combating the effects of climate change, reach out to your county’s district conservationist at your local service center which can be found at Farmers.gov/service-locator and see how we can help.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps America’s farmers conserve the nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources. All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment. To learn more about NRCS and what we do go visit www.in.nrcs.usda.gov/ Follow us on https://twitter.com/IndianaNRCS.