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New Report, USDA Climate Hubs Offer Help to Address Forest Drought in the U.S.

U.S. Drought Monitor Drought Assessment map

U.S. Drought Monitor Drought Assessment map

Drought patterns have always fluctuated and are expected to become increasingly dynamic in the years to come, making managing working lands profitably more of a challenge. Because specific actions for building resilience to drought vary with location and forest type, USDA is helping land managers connect with experts and find region-specific information and tools through the USDA Climate Hubs.

Recent historical drought events vary from region to region, with the western U.S. showing a trend toward dry conditions while trends in the East are more complex. So how can land managers mitigate the impacts of drought on their lands? Read more »

Reducing Energy Use and Costs & Getting #USDAResults for Virginia Businesses and Farmers

Solar panels atop the storage units outside E&S Mart in Altavista

Solar panels atop the storage units outside E&S Mart in Altavista.

This week in Virginia, USDA Rural Development announced eight Rural Energy for America (REAP) grants totaling $107,500.

It’s always an honor to award REAP grants because they help Virginia’s rural businesses by rewarding innovation. The REAP program helps rural businesses and agricultural producers save money, make their operations more energy efficient, and protect the environment. Read more »

The Life of a USDA Market News Reporter

USDA Market News reporter Alexandra Wright

Market News reports reach millions of stakeholders every day to ensure that everyone in the ag supply chain have the information they need. Pictured here is Market News reporter Alexandra Wright.

As I walked up to my new USDA office, distracted by the animal noises, I dodged horse-drawn buggies while tiptoeing around cow pies.  Originally from the suburbs of Atlanta, my exposure to livestock was limited.  As a market reporter with USDA Market News, I found that my exposure would significantly increase and fast.

The entire agricultural supply chain turn to USDA Market News – administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – for reliable data that serves as the information lifeline for America’s agricultural economy.  Our reports, with data gathered and distributed by reporters like me, reach millions of stakeholders every day to ensure that everyone in the ag supply chain have the information they need. Read more »

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 »