The USDA is awarding new grants to universities and organizations in Nebraska and 30 other states that are working to develop new conservation methods, according to U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“Farmers want to know how to deal with the variations of weather that they’re beginning to see — the more intense storms, the longer droughts, the occasional flood or the tornado that’s very destructive,” Vilsack said. “These are the kind of programs that will help us learn a little bit more about that.”
Vilsack says it’s vital that farmers and ranchers be able to change and adapt.
“Conservation has this extraordinary opportunity not only to preserve the soil which is critically important to this farming operation and every farming operation, but also to preserve the quality of the water and the quantity of the water available,” Vilsack said.
The USDA is awarding nearly $16-million from the Conservation Innovation Grant program. Vilsack says half of those grants will focus on soil health.
“It’s a way of preserving this great topsoil that we’ve been blessed to have in the Midwest and also preserving and conserving our scarce water resources so that we continue to have not just an abundance of water, but the ability of that water to provide additional economic opportunity in the form of tourism,” Vilsack says.
One of the grants is going to the National Corn Growers Assocaition, to find new ways to increase productivity and increase farmer participation in conservation efforts. Since it started several years ago, the Conservation Innovation Grant program has handed out $126-million to finance more than 300 research projects.