WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson met with farmers and ranchers in Iowa to discuss USDA and EPA's joint efforts to ensure that American agriculture continues to be productive. Vilsack and Jackson highlighted the cutting-edge conservation measures producers have pioneered over the past decades and met with renewable energy leaders to discuss agriculture's role in making the nation more energy-secure.

"The farmers and ranchers we visited with today [Tuesday] - and hundreds of thousands like them around the country - are our nation's first and finest conservationists. They understand better than anyone that you cannot continually take from the land without giving back and they have taken incredible strides to protect the land they rely on," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "USDA will continue to work hand-in-hand with EPA to ensure that both agencies are pursuing common-sense regulation that will let farmers make the decisions they feel are best for their own operations."

"These opportunities to talk with farmers on their land and see their operations at work are incredibly valuable. Open communication and transparency are the essential first steps toward protecting air and water quality and ensuring the health of farming communities," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "Agriculture is part of the foundation of the American economy. EPA's mission to safeguard clean air, clear water and productive land is a critical part of sustaining farming jobs and productivity, and it's vital that we communicate and work together on these issues we share."

Jackson and Vilsack toured a livestock farm in Pleasantville, Iowa and a 1600 acre row crop farm in Prairie City, Iowa. They also toured REG Newton, LLC, a biodiesel plant in Newton, Iowa to discuss agriculture's role in renewable energy development. USDA and EPA have worked together to encourage conservation work and the profitability of American farmers. EPA's recent decision to waive a limitation on selling gasoline that contains more than 10 percent of ethanol represents one of several steps needed from federal, state and industry to commercialize E15 gasoline blends.

The Renewable Fuel Standard EPA proposed will encourage farmers to continue to work with industry to innovate and provide the nation with a source of clean renewable fuel. At the same time, it will create jobs around the country and increase farmers' income by $13 billion annually.