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Texas Agriculture, Bigger in More Ways Than You Might Know

It’s no bull, and no fairy-tail (tale) – Texas cattle production alone is worth more than the total agricultural production of all but 6 states.  Check back next Thursday for more details on another state from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

It’s no bull, and no fairy-tail (tale) – Texas cattle production alone is worth more than the total agricultural production of all but 6 states. Check back next Thursday for more details on another state from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

Nearly a quarter of a million farms covering more than 130 million acres of land, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, means Texas has more farms and land in farms than any other state in the U.S.  Texas has about 72,000 more farms and 4 million more acres of farm land, than in Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma combined.  Not a surprise to some, but let’s consider the vastness of Texas agriculture from a few other perspectives.

Texas women operated 38,452 farms, a farm count greater than total farms in 28 states.  Farms operated by Texas women cover over 12 million acres, more than total land in farms in 27 states. Read more »

Harvest Time in the People’s Garden: A Labor of Love

Executive Master Gardeners Tanya Brown USDA-FSA (right) and Lee Cliburn USDA-AMS pick okra from the USDA People’s Garden on the corner of Jefferson Drive and 12th Street, SW. Photo by Annie Ceccarini, USDA.

Executive Master Gardeners Tanya Brown USDA-FSA (right) and Lee Cliburn USDA-AMS pick okra from the USDA People’s Garden on the corner of Jefferson Drive and 12th Street, SW. Photo by Annie Ceccarini, USDA.

All summer, visitors to the National Capitol Region have been seeing monuments, public buildings, works of art and experiencing music and theater; however, many were unexpectedly surprised by the brilliant hues of purple, red and green emanating from USDA’s People’s Garden.

But those colors didn’t just pop up on their own. USDA has a cadre of friendly and knowledgeable employee volunteers who plant, maintain and harvest as well as interact and answer questions from hundreds of people who stop by to admire the garden. Read more »

Rural Manufacturer “Legend” Rides into the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame with USDA Backing

Legend Air Suspension Owner Jesse Jurrens speaks at his induction into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame.

Legend Air Suspension Owner Jesse Jurrens speaks at his induction into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame.

The 74th Annual Sturgis Bike Rally roared through South Dakota the first part of August with a week of activities and events. One noteworthy event was Jesse Jurrens, owner of Legend Suspensions, being inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame at the 14th Annual Hall of Fame Induction Breakfast held at the Lodge in Deadwood, SD.

Rural Development Area Director Tim Potts was on-site on my behalf to represent the agency and congratulate Jesse on this major milestone.  The mission of the Hall of Fame is to collect, preserve, and interpret the history of motorcycling, honor those who have made a positive and significant impact on the sport and lifestyle, and pay tribute to the heritage of the Sturgis Rally.  Jesse definitely has shaped and changed the sport and lifestyle of motorcyclists globally and is inspiration for future generations. Read more »

Raising the Bar: From Healthy Schools to Healthy Districts

Principal Kimberly Norton of Danville, Ill (second from right) stands on stage with President Clinton at the 2014 Leaders Summit hosted by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Photo credit: Scott Henrichsen

Principal Kimberly Norton of Danville, Ill (second from right) stands on stage with President Clinton at the 2014 Leaders Summit hosted by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Photo credit: Scott Henrichsen

Recently, I had the pleasure of participating in the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Leaders Summit, where I met several inspiring school wellness champions who were eager to share their stories of success.  In today’s installment in our Cafeteria Stories series, Kimberly Norton, a principal of one of the schools honored at that event, shares some of her school’s award winning strategies for a healthier environment that kids truly enjoy.

By: Kimberly Norton, Principal, Northeast Elementary Magnet School

A few weeks ago, I attended the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. to receive the National Healthy Schools Gold Award for my school, Northeast Elementary Magnet School in Danville, Illinois. The Leaders Summit brought together school leaders like me, along with business executives and community champions to celebrate our success in building healthier environments where our kids can thrive. Read more »

New Georgia Goat Farmer Finds Help Through USDA

Beverly Robinson, left, has worked with NRCS District Conservationist Vontice Jackson to make conservation improvements to her goat farm.

Beverly Robinson, left, has worked with NRCS District Conservationist Vontice Jackson to make conservation improvements to her goat farm.

The odds were against Beverly Robinson, but she isn’t one that gives in easily. She didn’t let her newness to farming discourage her from following her dream to raise goats.

“Animals have always been a part of our lives even growing up,” Robinson said. “I developed an innate love for animals, and when I retired, I wanted to go back to one of the things I loved, which was to raise animals.”

In the eight years since she retired as a campus president and moved to Soperton, Georgia to follow her dream, Robinson bought a home and 22 acres. She formed RobinsonHouse Farms, Inc. and began her journey as a goat farmer. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Bioeconomy Brings Big Opportunity to Rural America

Today, small businesses and global companies alike have harnessed the power of America’s farms to create new biobased products that are used all around the world. Everything from cleaning products to packing peanuts originates in rural America, and the potential to create even more new products derived from the crops grown in rural America is nearly limitless.

Yesterday, I visited the first-ever Bioproducts World Showcase, hosted by the Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center at Ohio State University. At the Showcase, I had the opportunity to see the latest and greatest in cutting edge innovation in the bioeconomy and speak with leaders across the bioeconomy about emerging opportunities and challenges in the bioeconomy. Read more »