September 8, 2010
At its annual meeting in August, the member organizations of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition developed and adopted a statement on President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative. The NSAC statement calls attention to the critical role played by USDA working agricultural lands conservation programs in advancing the Initiative’s goals. The document has been submitted as public comment to the Initiative and to USDA conservation and environment senior leadership.
The President launched the AGO Initiative back in April to help shape his conservation policy. The launch included a presidential memorandum outlining broad goals, including encouraging sustainable use of private land, connecting wildlife migration and other natural corridors, encouraging outdoor recreation and conservation, and forming coalitions with local government and the private sector.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is one of four federal officials guiding the effort, along with Interior, EPA, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Listening sessions on the Initiative have been occurring across the country this summer, with more expected to be announced soon. There is also an extensive online conversation about the initiative and a wide variety of recommendations from stakeholders.
The NSAC statement notes the strong connections that could be made between the AGO objectives and both USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative and regional rural economic development initiative. The statement also takes the Administration to task for previously proposing to reduce USDA private lands conservation spending and for failing to correct the conservation staffing shortage they inherited from the previous Administration. It also recommends enhanced use of existing tools, including the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative, Conservation Stewardship Program, and Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program, to enhance conservation education and recreation opportunities.
Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment