On November 3, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a $30 million investment in 73 conservation projects through the Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI). These fiscal year 2016 MRBI awards will benefit 33 new conservation projects and 40 ongoing projects.
Three NSAC members are partnering organizations on new awards, including Illinois Stewardship Alliance for conservation efforts in the Upper Macoupin watershed in Illinois, as well as Wallace Center/Winrock International and Organic Valley/CROPP for a project in the Kickapoo River watershed of Wisconsin.
The goals of MRBI are to improve water quality, restore wetlands, and enhance wildlife habitat while maintaining agricultural profitability in the Mississippi River basin. Through MRBI, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and partners work together to support participating farmers.
Farmers enrolled in MRBI projects receive financial and technical assistance through multiple 2014 Farm Bill conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). This assistance allows farmers to implement conservation practices that reduce sediment and nutrient loss to waters that eventually reach the Gulf of Mexico.
Projects that are newly funded this year span 12 states, including Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. A full list of projects is available here.