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USDA Announces New Conservation Collaboration

USDA Announces New Conservation Collaboration
Secretary Tom Vilsack travelled to Iowa to sign a new agreement with DuPont to jointly strengthen conservation programs and promote sustainable production of renewable feedstock for biobased energy.

Jim, Borel, DuPont executive vice president, and Secretary Tom Vilsack on Friday signed of a Memorandum of Understanding between NRCS and DuPont. USDA, through NRCS, will provide conservation planning assistance for farmers who supply bio-based feedstocks to biorefineries as the industry begins to commercialize. Conservation plans, written for individual operations, will ensure sustainable harvest of corn crop residues while promoting natural resource conservation and land productivity

"USDA and DuPont share a common interest in the wise use and management of soil, water and energy resources," said US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Through the MOU, DuPont will develop a process to work with cooperating farms on sustainable harvest practices that help keep soil in the field and out of rivers, streams and lakes; promote healthier soils which help reduce flooding through increased infiltration rates, and provide for the efficient use of nutrients.

"This agreement between our federal departments and a great company is more than just an opportunity to do a better job of conservation, a better job of supporting renewable fuels. It is really about the cornerstones of a renewed, revitalized rural economy. Those include production agriculture and the amazing story it is and how we look for creative ways to use what we produce.

"It's also about opportunities for exports and about local and regional food systems." He referred to the plant near Nevada, Iowa, where DuPont is building a 30 million gallons/year cellulosic facility. This plant will use harvested residues from a 30-mile radius around the facility. You are creating a local, regional market from something already there beyond the corn," he noted. "You've created an added value and job opportunities.

State leaders in Iowa were on hand to observe US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, seated left, and Jim Borel, DuPont executive vice president, sign a Memorandum of Understanding where NRCS and DuPont will work together safeguarding natural resources and building biobased feedstocks for cellulosic ethanol production.

"It's about conservation but not just conservation for the sake of conservation. It's also about expanding habitat, cleaner water, stronger soils, which create whole new opportunities for outdoor recreation which brings in people from other states and other countries.

"Finally, it's about the ability to lead the way to build a new economy based on biology and how you create new products."

"Working with farmers is critical to maximizing the land's productivity and protecting natural resources," said Borel. "With this new collaboration, we have a partner in the Natural Resources Conservation Service to ensure that the collection of corn stover for the production of cellulosic renewable fuel makes sense for an individual grower's operation and the land they farm."

Conservation planning

"This MOU will help promote conservation planning and help farmers," said Jay Mar, Iowa NRCS sate conservationist. "Through this process we will be able to identify ways to participate with farmers on a voluntary basis to promote soil health and improve water quality. In addition they will be able to receive the value from the crop and the residue and do it in a sustainable way. Isn't that a win-win?"

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