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USDA, Ag Groups Celebrate Earth Day

Survey releases, organized events and statements of support surround Earth Day celebrations

Published on: Apr 23, 2013

A host of ag groups and the USDA Monday celebrated Earth Day, a worldwide celebration of environmental protection.

Organizing group Earth Day Network says one billion people in approximately 192 countries celebrate Earth Day.

"Earth Day participants not only get a lot done, they also demonstrate that human beings everywhere are driven by their faith, their conscience, their sense of duty, or by a moral imperative to save the planet,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. “It is staggering to think about one billion people working together in a collective action.”

The group says the 2013 theme of Earth Day is "The Face of Climate Change." The group organized photos and stories of people affected by and working against climate change.

Survey releases, organized events and statements of support surround Earth Day celebrations
Survey releases, organized events and statements of support surround Earth Day celebrations

The United States Geological Survey said Monday the agency's scientists are working to explain the issue and understand what can be done to avoid consequences of a changing environment.

USGC developed a question and answer video series entitled "Climate Connections" to celebrate Earth Day and share ongoing research with the public.

USDA celebrated the day by highlighting water quality projects in 32 states, meant to improve water and wastewater services for rural Americans and benefit the environment across the country.

USDA Rural Development will provide the more than $145.2 million for improvements.

"At USDA, we believe it is critical that communities across the country have reliable, clean and safe water," Vilsack said. "This Earth Day, I also encourage communities affected by natural disasters, including those hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, to apply for funding through the Emergency Community Water Assistance Grants Program."

Specialty organizations such as the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and the National Corn Growers Association also planned support of Earth Day by highlighting biofuels' environmental impact.

IFRA released survey results of on-farm environmental improvements, finding that, on a per gallon basis, today’s ethanol plants require 28% less thermal energy and 32% less electricity than a decade ago, according to the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Additionally, the group said, biodiesel reduces greenhouse gases by up to 86% compared to petroleum diesel, while Yale University found that ethanol reduces GHG by up to 59% compared to gasoline.

NCGA Corn Board Member Jon Holzfaster added that through a partnership with ethanol, NASCAR has reduced emissions by 20% and become the largest recycler in professional sports.

"Every day, corn farmers rely on the land, air and water to grow a healthy, abundant crop which, through ethanol fuel blends, goes on to power our nation as it moves toward a greener tomorrow," Holzfaster said. "Earth Day is all about positive change, and so are America's farmers and NASCAR."

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson echoed the comments of Holzfaster, noting that "every day is Earth Day for farmers."

Johnson said NFU is "pleased to see that Americans continue to grow more environmentally conscientious and are actively working to reduce their carbon footprint. In a nation that is often plagued by political gridlock, one issue we can all agree on is the importance of preserving our natural resources and being responsible stewards of our soil, water and air.

"We should also use this time to reflect on the contributions of America’s family farmers and ranchers to preserving our resources and our environment. They are the original environmentalists"