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High Tunnel Initiative Brings Local Foods to Detroit

Malik Yakini, Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Security Network and Manager of D-Town Farms; U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow; NRCS State Conservationist Garry Lee; Southeast Michigan Resource Conservation & Development Council Board President Morse Brown and Ashley Akinson, Executive Director of Keep Growing Detroit (l-r) were together at Detroit’s Eastern Market to announce new funding for city high-tunnels. Photo by Brian Buehler, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Michigan

Malik Yakini, Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Security Network and Manager of D-Town Farms; U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow; NRCS State Conservationist Garry Lee; Southeast Michigan Resource Conservation & Development Council Board President Morse Brown and Ashley Akinson, Executive Director of Keep Growing Detroit (l-r) were together at Detroit’s Eastern Market to announce new funding for city high-tunnels. Photo by Brian Buehler, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Michigan

On a cold winter day last week, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Garry Lee, Michigan State Conservationist from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), visited Detroit’s Eastern Market. They were joined by Malik Yakini, Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, Ashley Atkinson, Co-Director of Keep Growing Detroit and Morse Brown, Board President of the Southeast Michigan Resource Conservation and Development Council. Despite the freezing temperatures that will make growing food a challenge for another few months, Garry and the Senator were there to discuss new support for the Detroit-Wayne County Seasonal High Tunnel Education Initiative (SHEI) which will bring new high tunnels – greenhouse-like structures also known as hoop houses – to Detroit’s urban farmers.

Funded by USDA and managed by local organizations, SHEI will train Detroit’s urban growers to install, operate and manage seasonal high tunnels that will conserve natural resources, improve productivity and help them be profitable year round. Easy to build and use, high tunnels were first supported by USDA as a conservation practice in 2010. Since that time, USDA has funded nearly 10,000 across the country. Along with other benefits, high tunnels are providing farmers from Alaska to Baltimore with tools to extend their growing season and provide their communities with fresh, locally-grown produce later into the year. Read more »

Agriculture Innovates: USDA Then and Now, Part III

This week, our weekly photo series moves on to critical programs that support farmers, producers, and communities nationwide in times of need.

This blog is Part III of a four-part series highlighting some of the ways USDA has worked with federal and local partners to adapt to challenges facing rural communities across the nation. You can see Part I and Part II.

Don’t forget, you can share your innovation stories, too, using the hashtag #AgInnovates! Read more »

Ag Outlook Forum to Offer Sessions on Food Prices and Farm Income

USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum: The Changing Face of Agriculture logo

USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum: The Changing Face of Agriculture logo

Here’s what the Economic Research Service (ERS) has in store for the Agricultural Outlook Forum. We have arranged two afternoon sessions on Thursday, February 20.  One will discuss farm income and the other the outlook for food prices.

The food price session, moderated by Michael McConnell of Informa Economics, will provide a perspective on food price inflation, the main factors that contribute to food price movements, and the implications for consumers in the United States and abroad. ERS economist Richard Volpe will present the latest outlook for retail food prices, recent trends in food expenditure patterns, and general-economy considerations. Another ERS economist, Ron Trostle, will discuss the volatility in commodity prices in recent years, and the impacts on food prices. And Keith Wiebe, Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), will address the implications of food prices for global food security. Read more »

21st Century Conservation Service Corps Partnerships Continue to Grow

HistoriCorps, a member of the 21st Century Conservation Corps, began in 2009 to help save and sustain historic places for public benefit through partnerships that foster public involvement, engage volunteers, and provide training and education. HistoriCorps has partnered with 40 organizations and property owners on the preservation of more than 100 historic structures in 13 states. More than 500 volunteers, veterans, youth corps, and students have participated in these projects. (Courtesy of HistoriCorps.org)

HistoriCorps, a member of the 21st Century Conservation Corps, began in 2009 to help save and sustain historic places for public benefit through partnerships that foster public involvement, engage volunteers, and provide training and education. HistoriCorps has partnered with 40 organizations and property owners on the preservation of more than 100 historic structures in 13 states. More than 500 volunteers, veterans, youth corps, and students have participated in these projects. (Courtesy of HistoriCorps.org)

To date, 100 organizations have joined the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, a bold partnership of key federal – including the U.S. Forest Service – state, local and nonprofit leaders and stakeholders that provide young people, veterans and other under-represented communities an opportunity to engage in public land and water restoration and conservation.

These organizations represent a broad spectrum of diversity, representing all regions in the country. Among the organizations that recently joined are the Earth Conservation Corps, Washington, D.C.; Milwaukee Community Service Corps, Milwaukee, Wis.; Environment for the Americas, Boulder, Colo.; and Siskiyou Mountain Club, Ashland, Ore. Read more »

Join us for a Google+ Hangout: The Changing Face of Agriculture with Deputy Secretary Harden

This week at Ag Outlook, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden will host a discussion on the challenges and opportunities facing women in agriculture. Women represent part of a diverse population that has a growing interest in the future of agriculture, but young people, veterans, socially-disadvantaged producers and retirees also have a stake in that future.

On Monday, February 24th at 3 p.m. eastern, Deputy Secretary Harden will host a Google+ Hangout to share some highlights from Ag Outlook and discuss how USDA is working with the next generation of farmers and ranchers to provide them with the tools necessary to succeed. Read more »

Recent Forecast Shows Limited Water Supply in Westernmost States

Hydrologists prepare to measure snowpack. (NRCS photo)

Hydrologists prepare to measure snowpack. (NRCS photo)

Limited water supplies are predicted in many areas west of the Continental Divide, according to this year’s second forecast by the National Water and Climate Center of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Right now, snow measuring stations in California, Nevada and Oregon that currently don’t have any snow, and a full recovery isn’t likely, the center’s staff said.

USDA is partnering with states, including those in the West, to help mitigate the severe effects of drought on agriculture. Read more »