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Chinese High Tunnel Part of Innovation at Missouri Teaching Farm

Curtis Millsap works in the Chinese High Tunnel on his southwestern Missouri farm. NRCS photo.

Curtis Millsap works in the Chinese High Tunnel on his southwestern Missouri farm. NRCS photo.

You can get just about anything you want at Millsap Farms, including an education about market farming.

Curtis Millsap estimates that he, his family and a crew of interns feed about 200 families on 2.5 acres of his 20-acre farm near Springfield, Mo. While another seven acres of the farm sometimes includes sheep, poultry and cattle, it’s the vegetable operation that supports Millsap, his wife Sarah and their nine young children.

Millsap uses two greenhouses and three seasonal high tunnels to grow produce year-round. Read more »

USDA Reaches Out to Farmers with Sweet Conservation Incentives

Pineapples are an iconic crop in Puerto Rico, and they’re emerging again as a popular farming enterprise on the island.

Pineapples are an iconic crop in Puerto Rico, and they’re emerging again as a popular farming enterprise on the island.

NRCS staff members visit with Puerto Rico pineapple farmers in Lajas, Puerto Rico.

NRCS staff members visit with Puerto Rico pineapple farmers in Lajas, Puerto Rico.

Pineapples are emerging again as a popular farming enterprise in Puerto Rico because of a new variety that packs more sweetness and boasts stronger harvests. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is working with pineapple farmers to prevent erosion, improve soil health and keep water clean downstream by encouraging them to use conservation practices.

The new variety is the golden pineapple, or Ananas Commosus vra MD2, which produces so much more fruit than the traditional Cabezona pineapple that farm acreage planted in pineapples on the island has doubled from 250 acres in 2011 to 500 acres this year.  Read more »

Retired Couple’s Commitment to Restoring Longleaf Pine Highlights Partnership’s Success

The Allens proudly stand next to one of their tall Longleaf pine seedlings on their Hawkinsville, Georgia farm. Courtesy: Michelle Stone

The Allens proudly stand next to one of their tall Longleaf pine seedlings on their Hawkinsville, Georgia farm. Courtesy: Michelle Stone

Tim and Harriette Allen have focused their golden years on a shared passion that has set them on a path to conservation. The Georgia couple’s love of nature and a desire to help the environment spurred them to become part of a national effort to conserve and restore longleaf pine forests throughout the Southeast.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Tim Allen said. “It’s a way to conserve for our future, for my children, and grandchildren on down the road.”

Tim and Harriette are diligently working to establish longleaf pine trees on dozens of acres on their Pulaski County farm. Working with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), they’re working through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to manage healthy forests. The Allens are doing their part to contribute toward NRCS’ effort to restore longleaf pine across the Southeast one tree at a time. Read more »

USDA Announces Support to Improve Water Quality in Targeted Watersheds

Andreas Farm installed a buffer to help improve water quality. NRCS photo.

Andreas Farm installed a buffer to help improve water quality. NRCS photo.

Running an economical and environmentally friendly dairy operation is a tough job but Andreas Farms is dedicated to meeting the challenge. That challenge involves running an efficient milking operation of more than 1,500 dairy cows while also managing tons of animal waste.

Dan Andreas is a dairy man who runs the successful operation that produces 38 million pounds of milk each year, and he’s a conservationist who strives to protect his hometown’s watershed. The East Branch South Fork Sugar Creek watershed is one of three priority Ohio watersheds that are in critical need of water quality improvements. Read more »

USDA Helps Syrup Producers Cut Back on Energy Use but Not Sweetness

A youngster enjoying how maple syrup is made. NRCS photograph.

A youngster enjoying how maple syrup is made. NRCS photograph.

In New England – or anywhere for that matter – nothing says the weekend like a short stack fresh off the griddle, covered by its inimitable mate, maple syrup. Whether the color is dark amber or golden light, the flavor is unmistakable. But as we pick up our forks and dig in, how many of us really think about where it comes from or how it’s made?

Did you know the most common tree used is the sugar maple? It grows mostly in the Northeast and Canada.

Production of maple syrup continues to climb, and according to data from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Connecticut saw an increase in maple sugar production with a record 78,000 taps in 2013. Read more »

The Women of Agriculture: Paving the Path for a New Tomorrow

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden looks over olive blooms with Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard owner Sandy Winokur in Elemendorf, TX on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. USDA photo by Melissa Blair.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden looks over olive blooms with Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard owner Sandy Winokur in Elemendorf, TX on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. USDA photo by Melissa Blair.

During this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama laid out an important call to action for our country:

“This year let’s all come together, Congress, the White House, businesses from Wall Street to Main Street, to give every woman the opportunity she deserves, because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds.”

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I would like to call attention to the remarkable work of women of agriculture. Not only are women the heart of many family farming operations across the country, women are starting and growing their own agricultural businesses– creating opportunity and economic growth for their families and in their local communities. Read more »