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Colorado Ranchers Thankful for USDA’s Emergency Haying and Grazing Program

Jeremiah Liebl in his truck with cattle in the background

Emergency haying and grazing provisions provided through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) allow ranchers like Jeremiah Liebl to weather severe drought conditions by providing valuable hay and pasture for livestock in Colorado.

In 2012, USDA designated 2,245 counties in 39 states as disaster areas due to drought, or 71 percent of the United States. Many of the country’s livestock producers faced the ultimate decision – liquidate or figure out a way to survive.

Ranchers across the state had planned to graze their livestock through the spring and summer, but found their pastures scorched by the hot sun, and their ponds dry. Read more »

Helping Small Farmers in the South Go Organic

A man leading a workshop

The NCAT sound and sensible project focused on educating farmers and ranchers in the Gulf States region about organic production, as well as helping facilitate organic certification.

Rock Woods, Gulf States Regional Director for the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), knows the importance of persistence. Rock wanted to help more farmers in the southeast learn about organic certification, but he also knew that farmers are busy. That’s why Rock and NCAT launched a sustained engagement and outreach effort to reach potential organic farmers, and his persistence paid off!

NCAT is one of 13 organizations that the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP) partnered with to create educational materials that support the sound and sensible initiative to make organic certification more affordable, accessible, and attainable. Read more »

From Devastation to Restoration

Forest Service scientists using a greenhouse in Washington State to grow bluebunch wheatgrass

Forest Service scientists use a greenhouse in Washington State to grow bluebunch wheatgrass as part of their current reciprocal transplant project. It is one of the largest and most intensive projects of its kind ever attempted.

Wildfires in sagebrush and other range ecosystems are increasing in frequency and severity, often in relation to drought conditions and intrusive species like cheatgrass, a non-native, highly flammable invasive species that establishes itself as a monoculture and crowds out native grasses and forbs.

“What’s preferable to a monoculture is a diverse plant community that includes native grasses, forbs and shrubs,” said Francis Kilkenny, leader for the Great Basin Native Plant Project, a joint effort of the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, or BLM. Read more »