Skip to main content

On Farms and Ranches, Every Day is Earth Day

Posted by Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey in Conservation Farming
Apr 22, 2019
Celebrate Earth Day with USDA graphic
Celebrate Earth Day with USDA graphic.

At USDA, we celebrate Earth Day 2019 by offering big thank-yous to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners for all they do. Every day, we recognize their efforts to conserve natural resources while producing food, fiber, and fuel for people in their communities and around the world. They’re doing what needs to be done to make sure we all enjoy the benefits of clean and plentiful water and healthy soils, ecosystems, and wildlife habitat.

This year’s Earth Day theme, “Protect Our Species,” highlights the responsibility we share in supporting wildlife. Two-thirds of the land in the continental U.S. is privately owned, and the decisions that farmers and ranchers make on their land can impact wildlife.

We at USDA believe people and wildlife can thrive together. USDA’s Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service assist agricultural producers with adopting conservation practices that benefit not only farms, ranches, and forests but wildlife species.

Working Lands and Wildlife

Producers across the nation have played and continue to play important roles in helping wildlife species rebound or recover. Through better grazing practices, for example, ranchers in the West are part of the public-private effort to support the greater sage-grouse and Bi-state sage-grouse. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined in 2015 that neither species needed protections under the Endangered Species Act because of the successful conservation efforts underway.

Greater sage-grouse habitat
Ranchers who use good grazing techniques can provide top-notch forage for livestock while providing habitat for greater sage-grouse. Photo courtesy of Ken Miracle.

Similarly, in New England, forest landowners managing for diverse forests have helped the New England cottontail rebound. In the Southeast, the Louisiana black bear, once in population peril, fully recovered because of farmers who returned marginal croplands to bottomland hardwood forests. And in the Willamette River Valley of Oregon, the Oregon chub benefitted from conservation easements that protected much-needed habitat. This fish became the first fish in the history of the Endangered Species Act to recover.

USDA offers a wide array of Farm Bill programs that can make wildlife-friendly improvements to croplands, grazing lands, and working forests, as well as benefit agricultural operations. Programs include the Conservation Reserve Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. USDA also offers free conservation advice as well and financial assistance to help implement conservation practices.

USDA’s Working Lands for Wildlife, a partnership led by NRCS, targets funding available through Farm Bill programs to priority species and landscapes. Launched in 2010 in sagebrush country, the partnership has grown over the years, and it is now ​active in 48 states, encompassing 19 different landscapes. Eight national and 11 state-identified species are used to focus individual projects that meet the needs of the species as well as those of the agricultural operations.

More Information

If you farm or ranch, we encourage you to reach out to your local FSA and NRCS representatives at your nearest USDA service center to see if there is a program right for your operation. Find your nearest office at farmers.gov/service-locator.

If you’re not a farmer or rancher, on this Earth Day please thank one for the work he or she does to put food on our tables and to conserve our natural resources and support our nation’s wildlife.

A person walking through a forest
USDA works with partners to measure the effectiveness of conservation practices, including the impacts of sustainable forestry practices on migratory songbirds. Photo courtesy of Renae Poole.
Category/Topic: Conservation Farming

Write a Response

CAPTCHA This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Comments

Alexandra Butler
Apr 22, 2019

I am a true EARTH worshipper and committed to be a life long hard worker maintaining nature's balance and being a faithful steward of my beautiful land.
Having been on this ranch for morw than a half a century, I maintain my ethical dedication to conserving our natural resources, and leave this place better than I found it.
Since 1969, I have planted more than 140.000 seedling trees, have improved the habitat and developed water sources for sage grouse and other wildlife, have maintained CRP contracts on 1400 acres. I have gone back to native grasses and have developed pollination plots. On this day, in honor of our EARTH DAY, I am harrowing the pollinator fields, and spreading additional wildflower seeds along roadways and ditches.

Diana Talbott
Apr 22, 2019

It all looks good in black and white, but you need to double your efforts if you want this planet to survive. Things are not sunny and rosy for far too many species. Fertilizer, pesticides, fungicides and RoundUp are the enemy. Corruption and deregulation in government, the agriculture industry and others is shameful. To make that worse our Administration has pulled much needed funding from those things that benefit every American the most to allow the greediest, most polluting businesses get wealthier. Yes Earth Day is an inspiring day and it does get people motivated and involved. But please do more. Get honest. Get a hundred + more inspectors out there. Weed out corruption in your agency and penalize farmers, ranchers, poultry and pig operations, etc who don't care about God's creation. We only have one Earth. We only have so much time...

lawrence malu
Apr 22, 2019

keep the earth clean and leave them like it was b/f

Kristin
Apr 22, 2019

The Earth Day graphic is beautiful. It would be wonderful if it were available as a poster or a t-shirt.

Martha Pott
Apr 28, 2019

I would second what Diana Talbott wrote !
The black bear and the chub didn't rebound without alot of work on enforcing conservation easements and rewarding farmers to quit planting marginal land. Defunding is the game the Trump administration plays to undermine protective legislation already in place. Clean Water Act, EPA, Dept of Interior, Endangered Species, etc......our earth in danger.