INDIANAPOLIS — Farmers, are you all in? We are at a tipping point in history. Weather patterns are changing, the population is growing, and the challenges faced by farmers in Indiana and throughout the country are as great as they’ve ever been.
To withstand the many challenges you face while providing the food, fiber and fuel the world depends on, I’m calling on you to join me at being all-in for promoting a better future. Today as we celebrate Earth Day, there is no better time to fully commit to investing in our planet. Healthy soil, clean air and water, abundant wildlife habitat and healthy forests all play an important role in the future health of our planet.
As you work to conserve, protect and restore these vital natural resources, we at USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are committed to being there and helping every step along the way. Our motto is “Helping people help the land” and our field staff throughout the state of Indiana are dedicated to living that every day when they come to work. We are your partner in the process of building a better future and we have resources available to help you make meaningful investments into your operation with the goal of conserving natural resources.
Our commitment starts with the offer of free conservation technical assistance. Do you have a natural resource concern on your land that you aren’t sure how to address? No matter if you farm thousands of acres, operate a small urban farm, raise livestock or own forestland, our field staff is ready and able to assist you in addressing your natural resource concerns. Start by utilizing the conservation concerns tool located at Farmers.gov/conservation/concerns-tool, which can help you identify resource concerns and possible solutions. Then, contact your local district conservationist and he or she can talk through the issues you have identified and begin crafting a conservation plan of how to address them.
If the solutions exceed what you are able to complete on your own, your NRCS district conservationist can help you to establish eligibility and apply for financial assistance programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Funded through the Farm Bill, EQIP helps cover costs associated with implementing conservation practices on your land such as planting cover crops, transitioning to no-till farming, installing watering facilities for livestock, building a high tunnel on your urban farm and many more.
Last year, Indiana NRCS invested $23,665,117 through EQIP, making a positive impact on 114,637 acres across the state. Additional investments were made through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) which enables farmers and forestland owners to build upon existing conservation practices. Indiana NRCS invested $11,523,022 on 101,244 acres through CSP in 2021. Through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program’s (ACEP) Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE), Indiana NRCS was able to restore 1,705 acres of wetlands in 2021, which will have a lasting impact on the landscape and habitat for wildlife. We will be making similar investments in 2022 as we work to get conservation on the ground and help you help your land.
We are joined in this effort to positively impact the working lands and private forestlands by our partners in the Indiana Conservation Partnership. Made up of federal and state entities with a shared commitment to conservation, the ICP enables us to combine our resources to provide the best technical, financial and educational resources to Indiana farmers.
We are all in and on Earth Day we ask you to join us. Find your local district conservationist by visiting Farmers.gov/service-locator, reach out and see how we can help you invest in our planet.
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.
— Jerry Raynor, Indiana NRCS State Conservationist