As we look to the future, we see a complex, changing world
ahead of us. Today, there are more than 7 billion people on our planet and 925
million of them are malnourished. The United Nations projects that we’ll have 3
billion more people on the planet in the next 90 years.
More and more farmland is disappearing each year here in
Indiana and across the country. We are facing an altered environment — where
climate change and threats to our air, water, soils and wildlife are
Because 70 percent of the land owned in the U.S. is
privately owned — about 90 percent in Indiana — the fate of our natural
resources is not going to be decided on public lands, but by millions of
farmers, forestland owners and ranchers making decisions every day. These
landowners choose how to use the natural resources on their lands.
If you follow agricultural media, you know we have a new
farm bill. This bill sends a strong message about the importance of our natural
resources by providing more dollars than ever for our nation’s agricultural and
Farm bill programs help improve air quality and water
quality, provide healthy plant and animal communities, ensure an adequate energy
supply and sustain natural resources on working lands.
In Indiana, employees with the U.S. Department of
Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service are working with farmers
each day to help them develop and carry out their conservation plan and
providing information about the various types of programs available.
These employees are trained to understand the soil, water
and related natural resources. They know what it takes to keep our drinking
water clean, and more importantly they know how to keep our resources
sustainable so that we can continue to feed a hungry planet and without
I believe one of the best ways to improve and sustain our
natural resources is to embrace soil health management practices such as cover
crops, no-till and nutrient management.
Soil health is not a new concept. In many ways, this system
of practices simulates nature’s way of conserving and protecting this limited
For example, keeping soil covered at all times protects it
from erosion and decomposing plants feed the soil with nutrients. Good soil
health builds a resiliency in the soil that can weather the extremes of drought,
storms and heat.
The environmental benefits of soil health practices are
great, but even better, farmers are seeing increases in production and
ultimately to their bottom line.
Every day is Earth Day for NRCS. We are doing our part to
help meet the challenges that lay ahead for our world by helping landowners take
action to improve their land.
I am so proud of our employees who have a passion for what
they do and who work every day to make Indiana a great place to live.