USDA Announces Awards for Mississippi River Basin Initiative
June 19th, 2012
Today, June 19, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced nearly $8.4 million in funding for a new round of partnership projects as part of USDA’s Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI). Twenty three projects in nine Midwestern and Southern states were awarded funding.
MRBI is a voluntary Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) program administered by state conservation districts with funding from USDA. MRBI aims to improve water quality, and restore wetland and wildlife habitat while maintaining agricultural productivity in the Mississippi River Basin. MRBI projects employ activities that avoid, control, and trap sediment and nutrient runoff from agricultural lands. MRBI is essentially a “suite of conservation practices” that are supported via farm bill conservation programs including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).
On a press call in response to the award announcement, Dave White, Chief of NRCS, applauded the way these programs are administered and implemented saying, “This is not cookie cutter conservation. This is providing the resources, the programs, and the technical assistance; but [also] working with and within each state to develop what’s right. To have local people engaged and to direct and focus these programs is the key to [their] success.”