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Two Generations Improve Their S.D. Property for Livestock, Wildlife

Grass may be abundant in the prairies of northwestern South Dakota, but the installation of water sources was essential for the Andersons to evenly distribute grazing across their pastures. Notice the dog keeping a watchful eye over his band! (Photo courtesy of the Anderson family)

Grass may be abundant in the prairies of northwestern South Dakota, but the installation of water sources was essential for the Andersons to evenly distribute grazing across their pastures. Notice the dog keeping a watchful eye over his band! (Photo courtesy of the Anderson family)

Conservation has long been a key element on Dan and Sharon Anderson’s ranch. The Andersons, who raise sheep and cattle west of Glad Valley in northwestern South Dakota, have a passion for healthy resources that grew out of respect for what conservation has done for their ranch.

In 1959, Dan’s father, James, purchased the ranch, which had seven pastures. With help from USDA’s Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural Resources Conservation Service), the elder Anderson started cross-fencing the larger areas to give his livestock better forage options and nutrition. When he took over the farm in 1990, Dan expanded this practice, continuing to work with NRCS to implement an extensive rotational grazing program. Today, the Andersons rotate both cattle and sheep around 32 pastures, with plans to divide the fields further. Read more »

Don’t Go Green this Spring, Greening Disease (HLB) Kills Citrus

Delicious citrus: Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service

Delicious citrus: Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service

It’s time to grab those gloves and get outside for some gardening!  April is not only a great time to plant citrus trees, but it’s also Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month. Before wielding that shovel, take a few minutes to learn how to keep your trees healthy and prevent the spread of citrus disease.

Citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB), is one of the most severe plant diseases in the world. The disease has devastated millions of citrus trees in the United States and now has the potential to eliminate the citrus industry.  Once a tree is infected with the disease, there is no known cure. Read more »

Age is Just a Number for 100-Year-old Farmer

A new calf, new life on the ranch, is reason for Annie Woodson, 100, to step out into the pasture and the Texas sunshine.

A new calf, new life on the ranch, is reason for Annie Woodson, 100, to step out into the pasture and the Texas sunshine.

Ms. Annie Faye Woodson has been directly involved in farming and ranching in Texas for the last 76 years. At 100 years-old she stays up-to-date on Farm Service Agency (FSA) program news and still makes trips to the Fannin County FSA office to sign up for farm programs and to certify acres.  It is no surprise that Woodson has seen many changes throughout her life on the farm.

“I rode in a wagon, buggy and tractor,” said Woodson. “Technology is the biggest change I’ve seen in my lifetime.” Read more »

Innovative Partnership to Protect Colorado Springs Water Supply

An AmeriCorps crew performs bank stabilization work at the site of the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs, Colo. Projects like this will be enhanced with the 5-year partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Springs Utilities, which will contribute $6 million over the next five to 10 years. (US Forest Service photo/Mike Stearly)

An AmeriCorps crew performs bank stabilization work at the site of the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs, Colo. Projects like this will be enhanced with the 5-year partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Springs Utilities, which will contribute $6 million over the next five to 10 years. (US Forest Service photo/Mike Stearly)

The U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Springs (Colo.) Utilities recently announced a new 5-year partnership to help restore the areas burned by the devastating Waldo Canyon Fire that tore through part of the west side of the city in 2012.

Through the partnership, Colorado Springs Utilities will invest approximately $6 million in support of the watershed health goals and activities over the next five to 10 years. The Forest Service will complete on-the-ground project planning and treatment in areas that complement Colorado Springs Utilities investments. Read more »

Vegetable Processing Facility “Northern Girl” Gears up for Fresh Veggies

It may be spring time, but the staff of Northern Girl already has big plans for fall, when their new vegetable processing facility officially opens in Van Buren, Maine. Funded in part through a USDA Rural Development Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG), the new 4,000 square foot facility will allow for the potential for year round processing of locally-grown vegetables.

This project is a really valuable asset – not only does it support a growing Maine business and 12 rural northern Maine farms, but it also puts fresh, locally-grown vegetables, “bounty from the county,” on the shelves for consumers in Maine and other parts of New England to enjoy. It reflects USDA Rural Development’s solid commitment to support local and regional food systems.

Read more »

New Export Markets, New Opportunities for Rural America

2009-2012 stand as the strongest four years for agricultural exports in history.

2009-2012 stand as the strongest four years for agricultural exports in history.

Today, the American brand of agriculture is surging in popularity worldwide. Fiscal years 2009-2012 represent the strongest four years in history for agricultural trade, with U.S. agricultural product exports exceeding $478 billion over these four years. Overall, American agriculture supports 1 in 12 jobs in the United States and provides American consumers with 83 percent of the food we consume, while maintaining affordability and choice. And 2013 is off to a roaring start already – with agricultural exports on track to set a new record.

Just last week, USDA announced three initiatives that expand export opportunities and reduce barriers to trade. These announcements support President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double all U.S. exports by the end of 2014, as well as underscore USDA’s commitment to a strong and resilient agricultural economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth nationwide. Read more »