Vilsack offers vision for solutions to environmental challenges
Uniform, Science-Based Cover Crop Guidelines: USDA agencies have worked together to provide new cover cropping guidelines. In the past, some producers have encountered conflicting cover crop management issues when working with multiple USDA agencies. NRCS, Risk Management Agency (RMA) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) worked together this spring to establish common, science-based guidance on when cover crops should be terminated. The agencies engaged stakeholders, partner universities, and the crop insurance industry to figure out how to make cover crop guidelines straightforward and sensible. Secretary Vilsack announced new guidance for USDA Agencies dealing with cover crops, using a new model based on local climate data, tillage management and soil information to account for daily crop growth and use of soil moisture. With this information, experts determined the latest possible time to terminate a cover crop to minimize risk to the cash crop yield. RMA, NRCS and FSA will all uniformly refer producers to these guidelines, and will use them to administer programs.
Vilsack noted that the steps being announced today build on previous Obama Administration efforts, including an agreement with the U.S. dairy industry to create anaerobic digesters to create energy and reduce greenhouse gases and pollution, promotion of advanced biofuels development, and projects to increase renewable energy and energy efficiency across rural America.
"By taking collaborative, regionally-appropriate steps today to adapt to threats, USDA can help American agriculture continue its tremendous productivity in the years to come," he said. "We've already worked hard to be proactive and ensure that USDA is prepared for modern environmental challenges - but we can't let up in our efforts."