Now that the North Carolina Forest Service and the Division of Soil and Water have been moved to the NCDA&CS, the commissioner has the authority and the responsibility to protect our environment and our drinking water.  I have worked closely with both of these divisions in my job with the US Dept. of Agriculture. We worked together to encourage landowners to plant trees, create and maintain wetlands, plant vegetation to prevent soil runoff and promote wildlife habitats, and establish buffers to keep pollutants from entering our streams and rivers. We need to partner with the private sector to find funding for conservation easements in order to preserve our farmland, wetlands, and forests for future generations. We also need to do more than just talk about “Going Green”. We must actively participate with farmers and agribusinesses to encourage them to “Go Green”.  We also need to encourage more sustainable farming practices. Sustainable farms not only help to protect our environment, but they are profitable and promote a healthy relationship between farmers and consumers. We will work closely with our Land Grant Universities and with the North Carolina Extension Service to educate our farmers and to find innovative ways to protect our environment. We all need to work together to protect our environment and keep our water supply safe.