USDA and Canada's Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food have entered into a partnership to promote agroforestry to help landowners improve water quality, control soil erosion and boost their production.
In a press statement issued Tuesday, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says: "We support agroforestry as a land management approach because it helps landowners achieve certain natural resource goals, such as clean water and productive soils. But it does much more. Clean water is a precious natural resource, and America's economic success is directly related to a continuous and abundant supply of clean water."
The Memorandum of Understanding establishing the partnership will allow USDA's National Agroforestry Center - jointly sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resource Conservation Service - and Canada's Agri-Environment Service Branch's Agroforestry Development Centre to collaborate on research and development, including the advancement of agroforestry science and tools for climate change mitigation and adaption in temperate North America.
The two centers will also support the Global Research Alliance on Agriculture Greenhouse Gases, of which both countries are members.
"Canada and the U.S. have a strong relationship with regards to many aspects of the agricultural sector," said Canada's Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "I'm pleased that we can now add agroforestry to that growing list, as agroforestry is an area that is not only good for the environment, but also for our farmers' bottom lines."
Agroforestry practices range from traditional windbreaks protecting soil, crops and livestock to emerging science-based practices that protect water and air quality and help boost landowner profits. Agroforestry practices can serve multiple purposes. For example, pine trees can shelter grazing cattle and also produce a sellable crop. Those same trees also serve as filters between crops and sources of water; store carbon; reduce noise and erosion; and provide food, shelter, nesting and travel corridors for wildlife.