Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager On Earth Day

October 11, 2019

Hello, I’m Agriculture Under Secretary for
Rural Development Dallas Tonsager. On Earth Day’s 42nd anniversary, Americans across
the country will take time out of their busy lives to help improve the environment. This
year, USDA will commemorate Earth Day and also celebrate the 150th anniversary of our
founding. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act of Congress establishing
the United States Department of Agriculture. Since then, USDA has helped conserve our nation’s
natural resources while at the same time supporting the tremendous growth and success of American
agriculture, driving economic growth, and building stronger communities and a stronger
nation.Many Americans don’t recognize it, but our nation’s prosperity – and particularly
the prosperity of our rural communities – is closely linked to the health of our lands
and our natural resources. Our public and working lands support agriculture, ranching
and forestry; they promote economic opportunities through hunting and fishing, recreation and
tourism; and they create green jobs producing renewable energy. Simply put, a healthy environment
brings good jobs and income opportunities to rural America.USDA’s Natural Resources
Conservation Service, Rural Development, Farm Service Agency, and the U.S. Forest Service,
play critical roles in conserving our natural resources. The quality of life Americans enjoy
depends on the conservation practices that our farmers, ranchers and private land owners
implement to clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink and prevent soil erosion.As
part of this year’s Earth Day commitment, USDA is investing in 54 water and waste water
projects in 33 states. These rural water projects will not only protect America’s natural
resources, but also provide a clean environment and economic opportunities for current and
future generations.This Earth Day, as USDA commemorates150 years of working with Americans
to protect the land we are also looking to the future. We know an economy built to last
will rely on the health of our natural resources. In the years to come, we will help address
the changing needs of agriculture and rural America – and find strategies for managing
our public and working lands that promote a strong middle class today while preserving
benefits for generations to come.We are stepping up conservation with landscape scale initiatives
that are delivering results and enhancing wildlife habitat. We’re enrolling a record
number of acres of private working lands and conservation programs. Together with our other
federal agencies we are working through the America’s Great Outdoors initiative to develop
a 21st century conservation agenda and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors.Over the
course of the year, we hope that Americans will join in our commemoration of 150 years
of USDA. It is a great time to learn about our contributions to the strength and health
of this nation, and to see how we can continue to partner with Americans working to provide
a better life for their families.

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