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USDA Public-Private Partners Tackling Wildfire Issues in Oregon’s East Face of the Elkhorn Mountains

Tim Fisher, a landowner in Baker County, Oregon, recently completed forest stand improvements on 232 acres of his land in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Tim Fisher, a landowner in Baker County, Oregon, recently completed forest stand improvements on 232 acres of his land in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Like many woodland owners in eastern Oregon, Tim Fisher enjoys and appreciates the value wildlife brings to his 1,500-plus acres in Baker County.

“I love watching the elk up here,” he said as he drove his pickup truck up a steep dirt road on his property, a mountainous view surrounding him. “I come up here to watch them at sunrise, and it’s beautiful.”

Thanks to technical and financial assistance from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and help from other agencies, Fisher is doing work on his land to make wildlife habitat even better — while also reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire. Read more »

Let’s Get Every Kid in a Park

Cross-posted from the White House Blog

From sea to shining sea, our country is home to gorgeous landscapes, vibrant waterways, and historic treasures that all Americans can enjoy. But right now, young people are spending more time in front of screens than outside, and that means they are missing out on valuable opportunities to explore, learn, and play in the spectacular outdoor places that belong to all of them.

President Obama is committed to giving every kid the chance to explore America’s great outdoors and unique history. That’s why today he launched the Every Kid in a Park initiative, which calls on each of our agencies to help get all children to visit and enjoy the outdoors and inspire a new generation of Americans to experience their country’s unrivaled public lands and waters. Starting in September, every fourth-grader in the nation will receive an “Every Kid in a Park” pass that’s good for free admission to all of America’s federal lands and waters — for them and their families — for a full year. Read more »

A New Network for Women in Agriculture

To be a woman in agriculture is to face a unique set of challenges. And because I know all too well the trials that women can face as they look to take on leadership roles, I made it a goal as USDA’s Deputy Secretary to start a community for women leaders in agriculture.

This past fall, I held a White House discussion with farmers, agribusiness, academics and youth leaders about the opportunities that exist to help advance women in agriculture to leadership positions. Since that meeting, the response has been overwhelming. Women from all walks of life and every sector of the agriculture supply chain are empowering one another, and they’re sharing beautiful photographs and touching stories about how they’ve done it. Read more »

Conservation Easements Protect a Special Place in Idaho for People and Nature

The area between the Pioneer Mountains and Craters of the Moon National Monument encompasses a large expanse of sagebrush ecosystem that is vitally important to sage-grouse and other wildlife. Photo by Pioneers Alliance.

The area between the Pioneer Mountains and Craters of the Moon National Monument encompasses a large expanse of sagebrush ecosystem that is vitally important to sage-grouse and other wildlife. Photo by Pioneers Alliance.

Stretching from Sun Valley to Arco, Idaho, the Pioneer Mountain region encompasses high mountain peaks, river valleys and sagebrush steppe that supports a rich variety of wildlife and some of the best remaining sage-grouse habitat in Idaho.

Sage-grouse inhabit the lower elevations of this relatively un-fragmented landscape. Covered with sagebrush, crossed by clear streams, and dotted with lush wet meadows, this area is key habitat for grouse. Read more »

Montana Agriculture Keeps Growing

Big Sky Montana could be Big Sweet Montana. Check back next Thursday for another fascinating look at another state and the 2012 Census of Agriculture!

Big Sky Montana could be Big Sweet Montana. Check back next Thursday for another fascinating look at another state and 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.

When you think of Montana agriculture, wheat and cattle come to mind. And why shouldn’t they? After all, our state ranks third in wheat production and tenth in cattle and calves inventory, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. That year, the combined market value of ag products sold for grains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas was $1,787,162,000 and cattle and calves was $1,783,908,000. Montana’s total market value of agricultural products sold per farm was $151,031; which was up 59 percent from the previous Census of Agriculture in 2007, while the U.S. average was up 39 percent.

We have 28,008 farms and ranches in our state with an average size of 2,134 acres, which is down 5 percent from 2007.  Female principal operators of farms and ranches account for 15 percent of the total principal operators in the state while American Indians account for just 5 percent. Like most other states, the average age of our producers continues to increase to 58.9 years, climbing 1.1 years from 2007. Read more »

At the Agricultural Outlook Forum: 2015 Outlook for Farm Income and Food Prices

Policy makers, economists, the farm and food industry, consumer advocates, and others rely on USDA’s food price outlook and farm sector income and finances data in their decision making and planning.  At this year’s Forum, two sessions focus on these closely watched USDA forecasts and present the latest analysis and projections.

A session on the Farm Income Outlook for 2015 focuses on general measures of the financial well-being of the farm economy. The analyses and data released by the Economic Research Service (ERS) and used by USDA and others in both the public and private sector provide insights about the financial health of the U.S. agricultural economy. Financial performance measures assess the farm sector’s receipts and expenses; net income; variations in farm income by farm size and other categorizations; and changes in the sector’s wealth holdings. ERS estimates and forecasts of farm income and wealth are based on information collected across USDA and other parts of government, as well as responses to USDA’s annual Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) and other sector-level information. Read more »