September 16, 2011
On Thursday, September 15, USDA announced the creation of an interactive website that allows the public to view and download a variety of data from the Resource Conservation Act (RCA) Appraisal of 2011. The Appraisal, part of USDA’s implementation of the Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act of 1977, assesses the status of soil, water, and related natural resources on non-Federal land and analyzes the effectiveness of current conservation policies and programs. The full Appraisal can be downloaded from the NRCS website.
The RCA website can be reached from the NRCS homepage by clicking on “Technical Resources” in the “Browse by Subject” selection menu on the left side of the screen. From the Technical Resources page, select “Resources Conservation Act” from the “Highlights” selection menu on the right side of the screen. This site contains the 2011 RCA Appraisal, background RCA information, and a link to the interactive RCA data viewer. Data reports are available at the State, Regional (either USDA Farm Production Region, or CEAP Region), and National levels. The new data viewer also allows users to search from the National Conservation Planning database (conservation practices applied by program and by resource concern), NRI data reports, CEAP reports, and State level data summaries from the Ag Census and the Economic Research Service.
As we previously reported, NRCS released a pre-publication copy of the RCA Appraisal back in April. Beyond its layout, the report has not changed since then. See our previous blog post for a detailed description of the Appraisal’s findings.
According to USDA, the Appraisal “examines interrelated issues that have implications for U.S. agriculture and forestry: climate change, biofuels production, and the quality and availability of water.”
Among its key findings, the Appraisal includes new data on land-use, farm size and income, use of genetically modified crops, pesticide use, nutrient applications and loss, tillage, irrigation, soil erosion, wetlands, and changes in wildlife habitat.
In the next phase of the RCA process, NRCS will develop a national conservation plan in response to the findings of the Appraisal. We will continue to monitor the process as it unfolds and will report on any new developments. The plan is due to Congress early next year.
Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment