A Missouri Coteau wetland near Bismarck, N.D., in the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region. Credit: Jim Ringelman, Ducks Unlimited, used with permission.
The Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana provides sanctuary to millions of nesting waterfowl each summer. With an innovative partnership led by Ducks Unlimited (DU), USDA is helping to provide new opportunities for agricultural producers in the region to sequester carbon while cultivating new revenue streams.
With the help of a grant from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, these partners have created a carbon credit system for private landowners in North Dakota who agree to avoid tillage of grasslands. Grasslands store carbon dioxide, one of the leading greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.
The North Dakota Prairie Pothole project, funded by a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) of $161,000, provides potential new revenue streams for landowners while avoiding greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon sequestration. Read more »
USDA employees across the country and around the world do critical work that impacts millions of lives. I am proud of our employees for many reasons, and I want to share just a few of their great accomplishments under the Obama Administration.
- Since 2009 the Rural Housing Service has financed 743,309 home loans.
- Since 2009 the Rural Housing Service supported improvements to 276 hospital and medical clinics, 166 schools and 401 libraries in rural America.
- Since 2009 the Rural Utilities Service completed 176 broadband projects providing new or improved service to 104,471 subscribers, including 5,858 businesses and 647 critical community facilities.
- Since 2009 the Rural Utilities Service financed 3,785 water projects providing clean water to thousands of rural residents.
- Since 2009 the Rural Business Service awarded 15,727 grants and loans to aid 65,636 businesses expand opportunity and create jobs.
- Since 2009 the Rural Business Service authorized 7,586 awards under the Rural Energy for America Program, saving or generating 8,549,590 megawatt hours of energy.
- Since 2009 the Food, Nutrition and Consumer Service expanded summer feeding programs to an additional 9,546 sites, bringing the total number of sites to 42,266.
- Since 2009 the Food, Nutrition and Consumer Service instituted Electronic Benefit Transfer systems in an additional 3,087 Farmers Markets to allow SNAP beneficiaries greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables while supporting more local and regional food systems.
- Since 2009 the Farm Service Agency processed 159,475 loans to farmers and ranchers, with a majority of the loans going to beginning farmers and ranchers, and socially disadvantaged producers.
- Since 2009 the Natural Resources Conservation Service entered into 190,822 contracts under Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), providing conservation benefits for more than 108 million acres.
- Since 2009 the Farm Service Agency enrolled 286,635 Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts, bringing into this conservation effort or retaining 14,131,055 acres.
- Since 2009 the Forest Service partnered with state and local interests in 23 projects under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program to improve over 500,000 acres of forests, producing 1.2 million tons of biomass for renewable energy production.
- Since 2009 the Forest Service and the brave men and women of the Service have helped fight more than 285,000 forest fires, risking their lives to protect lives and property.
- Since 2009 the National Institute of Food and Agriculture supported research projects resulting in 392 patent applications.
- Since 2009 the Agricultural Research Service in the area of Genetics, Genomes and Biotechnology alone generated over 3,500 publications, 830 Material Transfer Agreements, and 70 patent applications filed.
- Since 2009, the Foreign Agricultural Service helped challenge 751 sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to the export of American agricultural products, helping to spur record exports of American agricultural products.
- Since 2009 the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reduced processing time for non-regulated status petitions involving biotechnology by 332 days.
- Since 2009 the Agricultural Marketing Service assisted in purchasing $6.8 billion of product, helping to stabilize producer income.
- Since 2009 the Food Safety and Inspection Service adopted new Performance Standards for poultry and turkey inspections that will prevent 25,000 illnesses a year due to Salmonella and Campylobacter.
- The Food Safety and Inspection Service partnered with the Ad Council to launch the “Food Safe Families” ad campaign. Since then, USDA consumer food safety messages have reached an estimated 291 million people, helping families and caregivers of young children prepare safe food.
- The National Agricultural Statistics Service worked on the 2012 Agricultural Census and obtained a response rate of over 80 percent to the survey sent to more than 3 million producers.
- Since 2009 the Economic Research Service has published, on a yearly basis, a fact sheet on the condition of the rural economy that highlights persistent poverty and employment challenges that rural America faces, reminding policymakers of the importance of addressing those challenges.
- Since 2009, the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration has identified more than 460 instances of underfunded market accounts of funds held in trust for livestock sellers, and 110 instances of market weighing violations, returning to producers over $14,000,000.
- Since 2009, USDA’s Departmental Management has spearheaded the Blueprint for Stronger Service that has saved USDA more than $920 million – an effort which to date has allowed USDA to avoid furloughs and layoffs as a result of the sequester.
These are just 24 of the hundreds of examples of extraordinary work going on around the country by USDA employees. Our nation is truly fortunate that so many dedicated people serving the American public are back to work, so that these accomplishments can continue to grow.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Bioenergy Memorandum of Understanding is signed by wood energy partners (left - right) Biomass Thermal Energy Council, Executive Director Joseph Seymour; Alliance for Green Heat, President John Ackerly; USDA Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden; Pellet Fuels Institute Executive, Director Jennifer Hedrick; Biomass Power Association, President and CEO Bob Cleaves, at the USDA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2013. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
Earlier this week, USDA, U.S. Forest Service and partners took a major step to improve forest management, create rural jobs, prevent wildfires, and expand promising renewable energy opportunities.
Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden joined leaders from the Alliance for Green Heat, the Biomass Power Association, the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, and the Pellet Fuels Institute here in Washington for the announcement of a new partnership agreement. Acting as master of ceremonies for the signing event was Acting USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Doug O’Brien. Through the Rural Energy for America program and other programs, Rural Development has been a leader in promoting deployment of wood-to-energy projects. Read more »
The Wilds’ 60-acre demonstration site showcases a variety of native grasses.
Yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Natural Resources Conservation Chief Jason Weller announced 33 Conservation Innovation Grants awarded to entities across the nation to develop and demonstrate cutting-edge ideas to accelerate private lands conservation.
As the chief said during a media call with the secretary, “The Conservation Innovation Grant program brings together the strength and innovation of the private and non-profit sectors, academia, producers and others to develop and test cutting-edge conservation tools and technologies and work side-by-side with producers to demonstrate how solutions work on the land.” Read more »
Representatives in aviation, academia, policy organizations, city, state and federal government and national governmental organizations met last week in Chicago to release recommendations and findings from MASBI - the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative. Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien addressed the group concerning USDA’s contributions to the effort to develop “drop in” aviation biofuel from renewable feedstocks. Photo courtesy of Meg Whitty, United Airlines. Used with permission.
Last week, in Chicago, I had the honor to hear from and meet some of the leaders in the nation’s aviation industry as they assembled to issue a new report showing a clear path toward cleaner, more economical and more secure energy alternatives through the increased use of advanced aviation biofuels developed in the Midwest.
Representatives in aviation, academia, policy organizations, city, state and federal government and National governmental organizations met to release recommendations and findings from MASBI – the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative. Read more »
June through September is wildfire season in the United States and on June 18 there were already 16 active major fires consuming more than 102,000 acres. As much damage and destruction these fires cause, even more may be on the way when future rains cause mudslides from soil erosion on barren hills. That’s where “Woodstraw” comes in.
WoodStraw® is a wood-based erosion control product that was developed by Forest Concepts, in Auburn, WA, using a Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) grant administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). This material is made from low-grade waste wood veneer and resembles oversized pick-up sticks. Wood-based erosion control products have many advantages over traditional grass straw as an erosion-control material because it is heaver and will not blow away, is 100 percent seed and weed-free, and is effective on slopes of up to 70 percent grade. Read more »