The Thompson Ridge Fire in the Sante Fe National Forest approximately 10 miles north of Jemez, NM consumed over 29,903 acres. Photo by Valess Calera Trust Kristin Honig.
Those of us living and working in the Southwestern U.S. have recently experienced a prolonged, extreme drought persisting over several years. We have witnessed large, destructive and catastrophic wildfires that have taken both lives and property, observed expansive areas of forest tree death as a result of massive insect outbreaks, and seen our water supplies in reservoirs and dams across the region decline to previously unseen levels. Yet, what can we realistically do in the face of these climatically driven changes that will likely continue and intensify into the future?
Changing climatic conditions in the southwest that impact temperatures, alter growing seasons, increase plant moisture stress, and trigger extreme events directly contribute to these recent regional catastrophes and water scarcities. Recently, a highly respected, third generation public land cattle rancher in our region put it this way: “I believe that the climate is changing. But I can’t accept it. If I do I would just go out of business. I have to cope and go on.” So we are left to look around us and ask what information, tools, and technology can we reach for when it gets tough? Read more »
Broken kernels are indicated above.
With a little help from USDA, consumer-grade photo scanners could revolutionize rice grading.
Consumers much prefer whole kernels of milled rice over broken pieces. Whole kernels offer more consistent cooking qualities and are in many cases considered more visually appealing. As a result, the price paid to a rice producer for a load of rough rice can be impacted by the percentage of broken kernels within a sample of rice after it has been milled.
USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration is developing software for use with consumer-grade photo scanners to measure the percent of broken kernels in milled rice quickly and accurately. When rough rice is graded in accordance with USDA’s Rice Grading Standards, the percentage of broken kernels within a sample is determined by a trained grader’s visual inspection. Read more »
Mountain pine beetle has damaged more than 2 million acres of lodgepole pine forest. This shows tree loss on the Klamath National Forest in California. (U.S. Forest Service/Zachary Heath)
Sometimes, heroes aren’t who we expect.
With more than 750 million acres classified as forest land and millions more acres with trees in urban areas, the U.S. population receives a wide array of services and commodities from forests, such as wood and other forest products, recreation, wildlife, clean water, energy and jobs. Read more »
MyPlate Tips for Valentine’s Day!
This Valentine’s Day, give something for the heart. Sharing a heart healthy gift is a great way to let the people in your life know you care. Instead of offering an over-sized piece of cake or a box of sweets, give something that takes care of the heart.
For Your Spouse or Partner: Make a healthy meal together. Cooking a meal can help you to control portion sizes and the ingredients in your food. Find a healthy recipe to make at home or attend a cooking class at your local mall or community college. For healthy recipe ideas, visit the FNCS Recipe Box. Read more »
USDA Deputy Undersecretary Ann Mills (ninth from left) visits with Leopold Conservation Award winners at USDA last week. USDA photo.
“Water conservation begins where the first drop of rain falls…most likely on private working lands.” This is a favorite saying of Tom Vandivier, a Texas cattle rancher and 2008 recipient of the Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award (LCA).
Tom was one of more than two dozen recipients of the LCA – which recognized landowners for achievement in environmental improvement on agricultural land – in Washington, D.C. last week. I was fortunate to meet with them here at USDA headquarters to talk about the importance of conservation and the need to spread the message that investing in conservation practices on our farm and ranch lands not only protects water, air and wildlife – it also makes economic sense. Read more »
USDA Farm Service Agency employee Willie Cooper retires after more than 56 years.
Willie F. Cooper recently retired after more than 56 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Three hundred of his Louisiana friends – more if the rain doesn’t freeze — are prepared to honor Willie Feb. 11, in Alexandria, La.
At retirement, people often reflect on their careers. Willie has a lot on which to reflect. He started in August 1957 with the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Back then it was called the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service.
In a recent conversation, Willie spoke about the thing that amazed him the most during employment with FSA – technology. Some changes affected everyone, but the technology that stood out the most for Willie Cooper was what affected farming. “It blows your mind,” he said. Read more »