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Understanding Farms in the United States

A family stands in a plot of tall grass plantings on a farm in central Iowa. NRCS photo.

A family stands in a plot of tall grass plantings on a farm in central Iowa. NRCS photo.

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.

What are U.S. farms like?  Are they largely family businesses, or corporate operations?  Describing farms is challenging because they vary in size and other characteristics, ranging from very small retirement and residential farms to businesses with sales in the millions of dollars.  Descriptions based on U.S. averages hide much of the variation. Read more »

“Raising of the Ball”-A South Dakota Community Uses Recovery Act Funds to Improve its Water System

Community leaders from the Town of Ipswitch, South Dakota celebrate the construction of a new water tower.

Community leaders from the Town of Ipswich, South Dakota celebrate the construction of a new water tower.

USDA Rural Development joined Ipswich, South Dakota city officials, congressional staff, partners, and members of the community recently for a “raising of the ball” event.    There was excitement in the air as the National Anthem was sung by members of the Ipswich High School chorus, drum roll, and all eyes focused on the crane raising the “ball” to complete the 150,000 gallon elevated tower.    This was definitely a site to see as history was in the making in this small rural town – population 943.  The original system, including the tower and lines were constructed back in 1910 – 100 years ago. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack Encourages Intern to Explore Opportunities at USDA

Secretary Vilsack meets USDA Intern and Drake student Jessie Scott during a recent visit to Iowa.

Secretary Vilsack meets USDA Intern and Drake student Jessie Scott during a recent visit to Iowa.

It’s hard to beat a summertime filled with spending time with family and friends, traveling to new places, enjoying the outdoors and sometimes just relaxing. For college students, the summer is also a great time to gain valuable professional experiences. Read more »

An Introduction to Mobile Slaughter Units

In the United States the slaughter and processing of meat sold in the marketplace must take place at a state or federally-inspected facility.  The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, or FSIS, is responsible for this important task.  While these requirements are important for protecting the public’s health, they can create challenges for farmers, ranchers, and processors looking to do business.

For example, small livestock producers are finding it hard (and at times, cost prohibitive) to transport their livestock the long distances necessary to the closest FSIS-inspected slaughter facility.  This is especially troubling to producers at a time when markets for locally grown and specialty products are becoming more and more profitable.  FSIS-inspected “mobile slaughter units” provide a feasible option for small red meat and poultry producers wanting to provide safe, wholesome product to local and interstate markets. Read more »

The Recovery Act in Your Community: Aiding Agricultural Independence & Improving Environmental Health

Northern Kagman Peninsula and Lau Lau Bay—part of the Kagman Watershed on Saipan. Saipan, an island between the Pacific and Philippine Seas, is part of the U.S.

Northern Kagman Peninsula and Lau Lau Bay—part of the Kagman Watershed on Saipan. Saipan, an island between the Pacific and Philippine Seas, is part of the U.S.

Islands often have to import many basic necessities and Saipan, in the Northern Mariana Islands, is no exception. That’s why the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Kagman Watershed Project is so important to the island. Read more »

USDA Seeks Tribal Input on Farm Bill Rules

 Rural Development Native American Coordinator Tedd Buelow addresses participants at the Tribal Consultation held in Billings, Mont.

Rural Development Native American Coordinator Tedd Buelow addresses participants at the Tribal Consultation held in Billings, Mont.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have made a renewed commitment to investment and outreach in Indian reservations. As the USDA works to implement legislation within the 2008 Farm Bill, department officials have met with tribal nations across the country to gather feedback on ways to implement certain sections of the Farm Bill specifically relevant to Indian country. Read more »