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Risk Management Tools Help Farmers Create a More Environmentally Sustainable Future

Good risk management tools aid in conservation efforts and help protect beautiful views like this for the next generation. USDA photo.

Good risk management tools aid in conservation efforts and help protect beautiful views like this for the next generation. USDA photo.

American producers know that crop insurance is a proven tool for managing the risks of farming.  But many folks may not be aware that it also promotes sound practices that encourage environmental sustainability.

One of the primary reasons the Federal crop insurance program is good for conservation is that it requires producers to exercise good farming practices in order to be eligible for coverage.  Good farming practices vary from crop to crop and from region to region, but follow the principle that the farming practices carried out are considered prudent and responsible by local extension agents and certified crop consultants. And this means planning for the long-term future, not just the current crop year. Read more »

Forest Service Wildlife Biologist Works to Conserve Fishers, Civil War History

U.S. Forest Service biologist Betsy Howell is highlighted in Faces of the Forest, a special feature by the agency. (Courtesy Betsy Howell)

U.S. Forest Service biologist Betsy Howell is highlighted in Faces of the Forest, a special feature by the agency. (Courtesy Betsy Howell)

Betsy Howell has a professional and personal interest in conserving two diverse parts of U.S. history.

As a wildlife biologist on the Olympic National Forest in Washington State she focuses part of her work on the history and future of the fisher, a member of the weasel family considered threatened and endangered.

As a Civil War re-enactor and author, she works to preserve an integral part of our history as a nation. Read more »

Natural Resources Conservation Service & South Carolina City Work Together to Save Home from Floodwaters

Through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program, NRCS helped tame a major erosion problem and save a West Columbia, S.C. home. NRCS photo.

Through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program, NRCS helped tame a major erosion problem and save a West Columbia, S.C. home. NRCS photo.

Heavy rains can cause flooding and erosion, and for homeowners in West Columbia, S.C. – a new cliff right below their bedroom.

Two major rain events last spring and summer transformed Natchez Trail Road into a flowing river, ultimately creating a 35-foot cliff near a home. Sue and Bob Allen turned to the city and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service for help.

“This is so exciting,” said Sue Allen, after the project was completed near her home. “Somebody heard our pleas.” Read more »

Reinvent Your Holiday Stuffing With MyPlate – MyPlate Holiday Makeover Week 3

Melissa’s Slow Cooker Stuffing

Melissa’s Slow Cooker Stuffing

The MyPlate Team continues to share “Makeover Monday” recipes each week on the USDA blog and the MyPlate Facebook page through January 6th.

Looking back, my fondest childhood memories took place during the holidays. I remember the smell of food cooking from the oven, the sound of the football game on TV, and my grandmother’s attempts to shoo us from the kitchen. Today, I’m a part of a new generation – one that’s plagued with obesity and overwhelming chronic disease. So while our traditional family recipes hold a special place in our hearts, eating healthy should also be factored into the equation.

As a nutritionist, I feel that reinventing family recipes is a great way to get your family eating healthier and a perfect opportunity to introduce new foods. One holiday recipe I’ve always enjoyed is my grandmother’s slow cooker stuffing. Born and raised in Kentucky, my grandmother’s southern-style recipes taste delicious, but are usually high in calories, saturated fat and sodium. Her original stuffing recipe contained 8 g saturated fat and 669 mg sodium per portion. Read more »

From Data to Decisions: Using Data to Improve Public Access and Knowledge

There are many companies that are currently using USDA data. Mercaris is a new company filling in the gap in offerings with reliable market data and an online trading tool tailored to the organic and non-GMO production, processing, and retail industries. Their reports present current and archived market condition information to assist in pricing decisions. FarmLogs provides comprehensive farm management software-as-a-service to farmers managing farms ranging from small-scale to over 30k acres. Their platform supports a hybrid of government and farmer-generated data that is analyzed and incorporated into their decisionmaking tools.

USDA wants to continue to encourage additional innovations and solutions by providing the data and statistics necessary that will offer improved agricultural production, global food security, poverty, nutrition and human health, natural resources and environmental issues, rural development, local and regional food systems, and many other issues. Read more »

One Day of Gleaning Brings Joy to Thousands of Children

Children from Emerson Elementary School in Albuquerque, N.M., were treated to their own pumpkin, compliments of the New Mexico Farm Service Agency. More than 8,500 pumpkins were donated to schools, children’s hospitals and local food banks.

Children from Emerson Elementary School in Albuquerque, N.M., were treated to their own pumpkin, compliments of the New Mexico Farm Service Agency. More than 8,500 pumpkins were donated to schools, children’s hospitals and local food banks.

What started out with just a handful of FSA employees trying to do the right thing has turned into an annual event that spans six New Mexico counties.

Ten years ago John Perea, county executive director for Torrance County, N.M., started a project to glean pumpkins from farmers John and Dianne Aday.

“We started it as an effort to take pumpkins that were left in the field and still in good shape, and try to get them to needy children,” said Perea, who along with other FSA employees coordinates the event each year. “We try to find schools in areas which demographically have families that are lower income and in neighborhoods with a history of drug abuse and various social problems.” Read more »