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Agriculture’s Role in Ecosystem Services

Harvesting sugarcane in south Florida, ARS scientists at the Sugarcane Production Research Unit are identifying research to help sustain both agriculture and natural Everglades ecosystems.

Harvesting sugarcane in south Florida, ARS scientists at the Sugarcane Production Research Unit are identifying research to help sustain both agriculture and natural Everglades ecosystems.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Most of us accept that some services—such as waste water treatment and emergency response, for example—have an economic value. As citizens, we decide to support these services for our safety, security and comfort. And yet there are many other functions going on every day, all around the world, that are not directly supported but still enable our planet to maintain favorable living conditions for all living creatures—functions like bees pollinating our crops, forests absorbing excess carbon dioxide, or dung beetles breaking down animal wastes. Read more »

New Hampshire Celebrates USDA 150th Anniversary at Miles Smith Farm

Over 250 people gathered at the Miles Smith Farm in Loudon, New Hampshire last week to celebrate USDA’s 150th Anniversary on a hot, humid summer day.

on left - Judith Canales, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development in front row with Gregg MacPherson, Area Director and Molly Lambert, State Director – on right – congressional staff Ivey Jones-Congressman Bass, Sean Thomas-Congressman Guinta, Matt Leahy-Senator Shaheen, and Simon Thompson-Senator Ayotte with community attendees at the New Hampshire 150th USDA Anniversary Observance.

on left - Judith Canales, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development in front row with Gregg MacPherson, Area Director and Molly Lambert, State Director – on right – congressional staff Ivey Jones-Congressman Bass, Sean Thomas-Congressman Guinta, Matt Leahy-Senator Shaheen, and Simon Thompson-Senator Ayotte with community attendees at the New Hampshire 150th USDA Anniversary Observance.

The hosts – Carole Soule and Bruce Dawson graciously opened their farm as the perfect location for this event. After driving up a narrow road, we discovered a scurry of activity as guests were welcomed and directed to a field set up with tents, farmer market vendors, informational booths and people. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 7/20/12

Approximately 88% of the corn grown in the U.S. is within an area experiencing drought, based on historical NASS crop production data.

Approximately 88% of the corn grown in the U.S. is within an area experiencing drought, based on historical NASS crop production data. (Click to enlarge map)

Visit www.usda.gov/drought for the latest information regarding USDA’s Drought Disaster response and assistance.

The drought of 2012 has rapidly expanded and intensified, covering 64% of the contiguous United States – according to the U.S. Drought Monitor – by July 17.  Three months ago, that figure stood at 37%, and at the beginning of the year, only 28% of the lower 48 states had drought coverage. Read more »

USDA Official Stands with Indiana Producers During Worsening Drought

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service (FFAS) Michael Scuse (right) tour drought stricken corn fields with Doug Goyings, on the Goyings Farm in Paulding County, Ohio on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. More information at www.usda.gov/drought - USDA photo by Christina Reed.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service (FFAS) Michael Scuse (right) tour drought stricken corn fields with Doug Goyings, on the Goyings Farm in Paulding County, Ohio on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. More information at www.usda.gov/drought - USDA photo by Christina Reed.

Visit www.usda.gov/drought for the latest information regarding USDA’s Drought Disaster response and assistance.

This week, as drought conditions continued to expand across two-thirds of the lower 48 states, USDA officials began fanning out to rural communities across the country to show support to farmers and ranchers affected by the drought. As part of the effort, USDA Under Secretary for Foreign and Farm Agricultural Services Michael Scuse visited Indiana, a state now experiencing increasing levels of drought, as most of the state has been designated a natural disaster area by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 7/16/12

Satellite image with enhanced low cloud-top temperatures for 6:45 a.m. EST (NOAA)

Satellite image with enhanced low cloud-top temperatures for 6:45 a.m. EST (NOAA)

Weekend thundershowers provided limited and localized relief to a few Midwestern fields, but most of the Corn Belt remains in dire need of moisture.  Currently, very hot weather is building back into the Midwest. High temperatures above 100°F can be expected in portions of the western Corn Belt for the remainder of the week. The eastern Corn Belt should experience some mid- to late-week heat relief, but only scattered showers will accompany the transition to cooler weather. Like last week, substantial drought relief will be confined to the Southeast. Read more »

Congressman Braley and Deputy Under Secretary O’Brien Host Farm, Food and Jobs Bill Listening Session in Northeast Iowa

Earlier this week Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien and Congressman Bruce Braley met with nearly 30 northeast Iowa producers and residents to discuss the important role rural economic development provisions have in the upcoming discussions of the next farm, food and jobs bill.

Iowa producers and residents discuss the impact the next farm, food and jobs bill can have on rural economies with Congressman Braley (in yellow shirt at head of table) and Deputy Under Secretary O’Brien (next to flag).

Iowa producers and residents discuss the impact the next farm, food and jobs bill can have on rural economies with Congressman Braley (in yellow shirt at head of table) and Deputy Under Secretary O’Brien (next to flag).

O’Brien said a goal with the next farm bill is to make it easier for people to access USDA support, ensuring that emerging rural businesses have the capital they need to grow and create jobs, and investing in communities pursuing regional growth. Read more »