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Norfolk, Nebraska Area Habitat for Humanity and USDA Partner to Provide Affordable Housing

Donald Parkos on porch of his new home, funded in part through USDA.

Donald Parkos on porch of his new home, funded in part through USDA.

The Norfolk, Nebraska Area Habitat for Humanity (NAHFH) wanted to expand the impact of its home construction program, and get a more immediate return on investment so it could help the greatest number of people in need. USDA Rural Development was the agency NAHFH felt was best met that need. Read more »

On International Women’s Day, A Tribute to Women in Agriculture

Rossie Fisher, co-owner of Brookview Farm in Manakin-Sabot, VA. March 8 is International Women's Day.

Rossie Fisher, co-owner of Brookview Farm in Manakin-Sabot, VA. March 8 is International Women's Day.

Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day. What better day to recognize the incredible achievements of women in agriculture?

Women have always played a key role on the farm or ranch. Traditionally, women often kept the books and ensured the solvency of the business while men ran the day-to-day production operation. Read more »

Super-Sized Goldfish Pose Giant Problem for Lake Tahoe

Brianne O’Rourke, with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, holds a large goldfish found in the Tahoe Keys of Lake Tahoe. (Photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Brianne O’Rourke, with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, holds a large goldfish found in the Tahoe Keys of Lake Tahoe. (Photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Lake Tahoe, the country’s highest alpine lake, is no goldfish bowl.

But U.S. Forest Service fish biologists with the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit said they’re well-acquainted with the big goldfish – several pounds and up to 4 to 8 inches long – living in the large freshwater lake along the border between California and Nevada. Read more »

USDA Releases New Maps Identifying Major Crop Producing Areas in the United States and Abroad

One of 40 new  maps  showing major crop-producing areas in the United States and other nations.

One of 40 new maps showing major crop-producing areas in the United States and other nations.

A total of 40 new maps have been prepared, showing major crop-producing areas in the United States, China, India, Pakistan, and South Africa.  Earlier versions of these maps appeared in the Major World Crop Areas and Climatic Profiles (MWCACP) handbook that contains climatological data, agricultural statistics, and crop calendar information for major agricultural areas worldwide, and serves as a reference for evaluating the effects of weather on world crop production.  The new maps, listed by country and commodity, supplement the MWCACP publication by updating illustrations of cropping patterns in these countries: Read more »

USDA Offices in Delaware/Maryland and New York Host Meetings to Boost Lending to Rural Businesses

Stakeholders meet with USDA staff in New York recently to discuss ways to use Rural Development programs to help small businesses create jobs and grow businesses. USDA photo.

Stakeholders meet with USDA staff in New York recently to discuss ways to use Rural Development programs to help small businesses create jobs and grow businesses. USDA photo.

Last month, USDA Rural Development’s Delaware – Maryland State Office and the State Office staff in New York hosted roundtable discussions on Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) availability.  RLF programs are unique programs that provide funds to local and regional organizations to capitalize and operate revolving loan funds.  Revolving loan funds are used to assist with business financing and economic development activities to create and/or retain jobs in disadvantaged and remote communities.  As such, these are programs that have great potential for meeting USDA’s rural economic mandate in a time of scarce federal funding. Read more »

Growers’ Input Shapes 2013 Growing Season

A statistician’s work is never done.   Just as we are starting to wrap up data collection for the 2012 Census of Agriculture, interviewers representing the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) are already visiting thousands of farmers across the United States to find out their 2013 planting intentions.

While all of our surveys are important in their own right, the March Agricultural Survey stands out.  For those not familiar with our reports, the Prospective Plantings is one of the most anticipated publications of the year.   Commodity traders around the world wait for this report to give them an early indication of the upcoming year’s U.S. crop production.  As a result, the information that producers report to NASS can impact business decisions of input providers, farmers, agricultural lenders and others, as well as commodity prices. Read more »