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Earth Day theme is Protect Our Species


By Paul Shubeck, State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency and Jeffrey Zimprich, State Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service, serving South Dakota - April 22, 2019

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 United States is privately owned, and the decisions that farmers and ranchers make for their land can impact wildlife.  In South Dakota, nearly three-quarters of the land is privately-owned.

At USDA, we celebrate Earth Day 2019 by offering big thank-you's to farmers and ranchers here in South Dakota for all they do. Every day we see their efforts to conserve natural resources while producing food, fiber and fuel for people in their communities and around the world. They are 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.

We 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 forest lands but wildlife species.

Producers across the nation have played and continue to play important roles in helping wildlife species flourish, 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. Western South Dakota Ranchers are part of this effort.

Our work on private lands for habitat improvements support ring-necked pheasants, song birds, and many other species, including pollinators. The conservation work that supports these species also benefits our soil, water, and the economic viability of farmers and ranchers.

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

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.  

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