(NAFB)--Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has released the first-ever report on USDA’s role advancing agroforestry. The report details how agroforestry practices are helping farmers, ranchers and woodland owners enhance agricultural productivity, protect the environment and increase profits. According to Vilsack - USDA has invested less than one-percent of its budget into tree-based practices. He says that small investment allows the department to help create private goods and public services that reap great rewards - including reduced greenhouse gas emissions and more resilient agricultural lands. Vilsack says much work remains to promote and sustain agroforestry practices - which he says have great potential to promote economic growth and job creation in rural communities.
Agroforestry is a management approach that combines agriculture and forestry to create more sustainable land-use systems. USDA - over the last five years - has assisted landowners financially with technical guidance to establish roughly 336-thousand acres of windbreaks, riparian forest buffers and alley cropping; about two-thousand acres of silvopasture; and about 500 acres of forest farming. According to USDA - those acres represent less than one-percent of the potentially suitable land for applying those practices - which suggests there’s an opportunity to significantly expand the application of agroforestry in the United States.