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ARRA Funds Help Keep Washington Farmers Afloat

A bad year forced Klickitat County farmer Kelly Kreps to choose between fertilizing his fields or paying taxes and insurance. Even though his operation suffered freeze-related losses, Kreps’s ranch didn’t qualify for the Farm Service Agency (FSA) disaster payments program. That was until last year’s stimulus legislation.

“The stimulus funds allowed us to pay our fuel bills so we could fertilize,” said Kreps, co-owner of Kreps Ranch LLC. “This money helped shore up our losses on the ag side of our business and kept us from having to sell a piece of property.” Read more »

The Essence of the Jamboree – It’s not about the numbers

Denny Mattison, US Forest Service, tells scouts how water from sudden rains can damage ecosystems (USDA Forest Service photo by Jerry Snyder.

Denny Mattison, US Forest Service, tells scouts how water from sudden rains can damage ecosystems (USDA Forest Service photo by Jerry Snyder.

For the USDA Forest Service, looking back at this landmark Centennial Boy Scout Jamboree is not about the numbers: it is about the heart of future generations and how they will see, understand, care for, and respect the natural resources. The agency has a longstanding history and partnership with Scouts, dating back decades. Scout troops, Districts and national groups like Arrow 5, a special Eagle Scout organization, donate thousands of volunteer hours in recreation and natural resource work on national forests and grasslands. Read more »

Carroll County, Virginia Observes “USDA Rural Development Day”

USDA officials and residents of Carroll County gather in front of emergency equipment and transportation equipment purchased with USDA support.

USDA officials and residents of Carroll County gather in front of emergency equipment and transportation equipment purchased with USDA support.

Under bright, sunny skies last Friday, hundreds of residents of Carroll County, Virginia turned out to acknowledge the support provided by USDA Rural Development. Working in conjunction with State and local governments, non-profit entities and the business community, USDA has infused well over $80 million into the area in recent years, and half of that was to improve water quality. Carroll County is located in the Southwest portion of the state, and the county seat, Hillsville, is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. Read more »

Forestry practice leads to a surprising discovery

Chestnuts have burrs, like this one, that make them impervious to predators; the spines can go through heavy leather gloves. Predators generally leave the nuts alone until the burrs open, revealing the nut within.

Chestnuts have burrs, like this one, that make them impervious to predators; the spines can go through heavy leather gloves. Predators generally leave the nuts alone until the burrs open, revealing the nut within.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio

When Jack Lochhead looked into a federal government program to help him manage his 250 acres of forest land in rural Conway, Massachusetts, he had no idea that it would lead to a surprising discovery deep in the forest.

Through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, Lochhead sought technical and financial help to manage his land. NRCS staff suggested an oak regeneration project which calls for land around existing oak trees to be thinned to allow new oak seedlings to take hold. Read more »

Kansas City Board of Trade Offers Examples for African Ministers

The African ministers of commerce, trade, and agriculture on the trading floor of the Kansas City Board of Trade.

The African ministers of commerce, trade, and agriculture on the trading floor of the Kansas City Board of Trade.

One of the most interesting aspects of my job is meeting interesting people from all parts of the world. Last week I only had to travel as far as Kansas City to meet nearly two dozen African ministers of trade, commerce, and agriculture for a visit to the Kansas City Board of Trade as part of the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum.

As agriculture plays a key role in African development, governments have a crucial role to play in ensuring a favorable market climate for their farmers and agricultural products. The ministers learned about the Board of Trade’s day-to-day exchange operations, where hard red winter wheat is bought and sold in the futures market. We took a tour of the trading floor to see traders in action and also met with researchers at some of America’s premier land grant universities to learn how they provide farmers and USDA with valuable research and new technologies. Read more »

The Countdown to USDA’s August Crop Production Report

NASS surveyors measure corn plants on an Illinois farm to ensure an accurate crop production forecast.

NASS surveyors measure corn plants on an Illinois farm to ensure an accurate crop production forecast.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Has the weather and grain prices been on your mind lately? With the release of the August Crop Production report just days away, I know it’s been on my mind. While we’ve had record-breaking heat here in the nation’s capital, everyone’s eyes are on farm country waiting to see how the unpredictable summer weather is impacting the 2010 growing season. Read more »