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Southwestern Crown Collaborative Focuses on Monitoring and Learning to Accomplish Restoration Goals

Pavilion in the Lubrecht Experimental Forest

A pavilion on the Lubrecht Experimental Forest in Montana. (Photo Credit: Linda Nitz, Lubrecht Experimental Forest)

This post was written by Emily Olsen, Conservation Connect Associate at the National Forest Foundation (NFF). As the U.S. Forest Service’s non-profit partner, the NFF brings people together to restore and enhance our National Forests and Grasslands.

Situated among ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and other endemic tree species, Montana’s Lubrecht Experimental Forest lends itself to learning and adaptation. In March, the Experimental Forest was a seemingly perfect place to discuss restoration goals during the annual Southwestern Crown Collaborative Adaptive Management Workshop.

Here at the National Forest Foundation, we’re feeling refreshed after the workshop. Participants from the Forest Service, local communities, conservation, and academia came together to discuss what the Southwestern Crown Collaborative has learned from wildlife, aquatic, socioeconomic, and forest vegetation monitoring over the past year. But the discussions didn’t stop there. Participants also deliberated opportunities for monitoring information to inform and influence public lands management across the local landscape. Read more »

Boosting Farm Profits and the Ag Industry in the U.S. Virgin Islands

A person holding a plant on a shovel

NIFA supports the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) in all U.S. states and territories.

The U.S. Virgin Islands hardly ever experience temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, which allows vegetation to flourish year-round. Even so, 90-95 percent of the food consumed on the islands is imported, and less than 1 percent of the territory’s gross domestic product comes from agriculture.  That may soon change.

A three-year Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) project at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) – supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) – works with crop and small livestock farmers who have less than 10 years of experience. Program graduates report an 81 percent increase in productivity and an 80 percent increase in profitability. Read more »

Bridging the Language Barrier for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

AAPI Month - May 2015. Celebrating Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. A man holding a girl on his shoulders with a tree behind them.

AAPI Month - May 2015. Celebrating Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. A man holding a girl on his shoulders with a tree behind them.

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.

The Asian-Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) population is projected to reach 35.6 million in the next 40 years, making it the fastest growing racial group in the country. One of those communities is that of the Hmong.

Over the past several decades, Hmong immigrants have adapted the traditional agricultural activities of their home environment to this country. Despite the contributions Hmong farmers make to the agriculture and food enterprise of our nation, they have faced a language barrier in the marketplace. Read more »

Serving Up Statistics More Efficiently

Ag Census Importance Infographic

The Census of Agriculture and the resulting data help inform decisions made across the agricultural spectrum, ranging from producers to policymakers. (Click to enlarge)

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.

On any given day, a USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) employee or representative might be contacting a farmer or rancher to request information about his or her operation. At the same time, another employee could be analyzing data provided by other producers, while other employees prepare one of the many statistical reports we publish each year on U.S. agriculture to help with business, research and policy decisions. 

Although the general cycle of data collection, analysis and publication of our agricultural estimates and census of agriculture programs is like a well-oiled machine, the recent rate of change is much more rapid than I can ever recall in the years I’ve worked in government statistics. New technology and changes in budgets, communications, leadership and workplace culture has allowed us to modernize to better serve the American public. Read more »

Regional Conservation Partnership Program – New Partners, New Resources, New Ideas

NRCS Chief Jason Weller (far right) touring acequias in New Mexico

NRCS Chief Jason Weller (far right) completes his tour of acequias in New Mexico at the oldest continuously functioning acequia in the United States – the Acequia de Chamita, near Espanola, New Mexico – in operation since 1597. With Chief Weller are (left to right) Gilbert Borrego, NRCS New Mexico Acequia Civil Engineering Technician; Kenny Salazar, President of the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts; and Bren van Dyke, First Vice President of the National Association of Conservation Districts. Photo by Rey T. Adame.

Last week, I visited with local communities in northern New Mexico. Many of these communities rely on irrigation ditches, called acequias, as their primary water source in an otherwise arid region. These are ditches that were used by their parents, and their grandparents, and their great-grand parents. Some acequias in the area date back more than 400 years.

Through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), NRCS is working with acequia communities and partners across the state of New Mexico to improve water quality, water quantity, and boost the overall health of these local irrigation ditches that so many rural American communities depend on. The Acequia San Rafael del Guique, for example, provides water for roughly 150 people in the Ohkay Owengeh and El Guique communities – it’s being revitalized as part of our RCPP project in the state. Read more »

Rural Housing Service: Stewards of the American Dream and Leading the Way to a Modern USDA with Paperless Processing

Guaranteed Home Loan Program infographic

New home loan processing is saving customer and staff time, taxpayer money and lots of paper. (Click to enlarge)

This has been the year of innovation at USDA Rural Housing Service. We are working smarter, faster, more efficient and environmentally conscious than ever before.  After years of brainstorming, planning, reengineering, testing, and training, RHS has realized its vision: the Section 502 Guaranteed Single Family Home Loan Program now operates paperless, and we’re saving more than we ever imagined possible.

USDA’s Rural Development State field offices now transact business with private lenders via Web-based uploads and electronic signatures.  This means RHS and our private partners are no longer printing and sending hundreds of pages of paper back-and-forth every time a loan guarantee is used to help a rural American family buy their home. Read more »