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Montana Organic Association Focuses on the Benefits of Organic Business

Montana is a leading producer of certified organic wheat, dry peas, lentils and flax. MOA provides the state’s organic community with valuable education, information, support, assistance, promotion, and representation. Pictured here is an organic grain operation in Montana. USDA photo courtesy of Betsy Rakola.

Montana is a leading producer of certified organic wheat, dry peas, lentils and flax. MOA provides the state’s organic community with valuable education, information, support, assistance, promotion, and representation. Pictured here is an organic grain operation in Montana. USDA photo courtesy of Betsy Rakola.

This is the twenty-third installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

According to a 2014 USDA Economic Research Service report, consumer demand for organically produced products continues to show double-digit growth.  This year, the Montana Organic Association’s (MOA) annual meeting highlighted the sector’s ongoing growth with its theme of Organic Business: Benefitting Producers and Consumers.  As USDA’s Organic Policy Advisor, I represented USDA at MOA’s conference and presented information about USDA’s support for the growing organic community.

MOA’s mission is to advocate for and promote organic agriculture for the highest good of the people, the environment and the state’s economy. The conference brought in over 200 people, a large number in a rural state with just over 200 certified organic operations.  MOA President Nate Brown noted, “The Montana Organic Association annual conference is our biggest event of the year and has been the lifeblood of the organization for the past 12 years.  We feel the conference is a great way to bring together Montana’s organic community every year for a weekend of learning and socializing in order to keep up with the growing organic market in our state.” Read more »

The Girl with Grit

Jaclyn Moyer’s got grit.

Somewhere between the 12 hour days Jaclyn spends on her 10 acre farm in Northern California plus her off-farm baking job, she somehow found time to pen a great piece in Salon about her experiences as a new farmer.  She describes how she and her partner are struggling to balance their love of the land and passion for farming with the financial challenges of starting a new business.  ”Surely many farmers enjoy what they do, as I often find pleasure in my daily tasks, but ultimately farming is work, an occupation, a means of making a living that must fulfill the basic function of a job: to provide an income,” she writes.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Read more »

Counting Colorado’s Cattle Country

Cattle is Colorado’s #1 commodity – check back next Thursday to learn more about another state and the results from the 2012 Census of Agriculture!

Cattle is Colorado’s #1 commodity – check back next Thursday to learn more about another state and the results 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.

Here in Colorado we take our farming seriously and the results of the last Census of Agriculture only reinforce that.

As of 2012, we now have almost 32 million acres of farmland, up slightly from the last census, conducted 5 years ago. Our farmers and ranchers sold nearly $7.8 billion worth of agricultural products in 2012. That’s an impressive 28 percent increase from the 2007 Census. Read more »

USDA Sage-Grouse Conservation Efforts to Continue and Grow

The greater sage grouse thrives in the sagebrush landscape of the West. USDA NRCS photo.

The greater sage grouse thrives in the sagebrush landscape of the West. USDA NRCS photo.

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The Sage-Grouse Initiative (SGI) is one of our shining stars at USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service – it’s become the model for voluntary, incentive-based conservation at its best. Through conservation science and partnerships at the federal, state and local levels, we’re making a huge impact for conservation and agriculture.

We launched SGI in 2010 to target efforts to protect sage-grouse and its habitat and to help sustain working rangelands for the long-term. Through SGI, we’re bringing back grouse populations, while at the same time, helping to improve ranching operations. Read more »

How Industries Create a Research and Promotion Program

Currently a proposal for an Organic R&P is getting closer to Step 1 in the creation process. While a proposal has not been formally submitted to USDA, a proponent group is working with stakeholders to develop a draft. USDA photo courtesy of Sam Jones-Ellard.

Currently a proposal for an Organic R&P is getting closer to Step 1 in the creation process. While a proposal has not been formally submitted to USDA, a proponent group is working with stakeholders to develop a draft. USDA photo courtesy of Sam Jones-Ellard.

We often talk about the many ways research and promotion (R&P) programs benefit both ag industries and the consumer. Our nation’s farmers and ranchers leverage these programs and the pooled resources they collect to help overcome marketing barriers and connect with consumers. R&P programs are self-help initiatives that are national in scope and funded by the industry to help these businesses continue to strengthen their rural economies and the communities they support.

To form a new R&P, there are specific steps that the industry and USDA follow: Read more »

Sunlight to the Seagrasses: U.S. Forest Service Research Shines Light on Threatened Coastal Plant

Healthy seagrass meadows prevent erosion on coasts, store carbon, and provide marine animals with food and habitat. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency)

Healthy seagrass meadows prevent erosion on coasts, store carbon, and provide marine animals with food and habitat. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency)

Just off Florida’s 8,000 miles of coastline and tidal areas, in shallow sunlit waters, over two million acres of seagrass meadows waft in the ocean currents.

Besides providing food and habitat for manatees, sea turtles, shellfish, and other animals, seagrasses protect coasts from erosion and store vast quantities of carbon dioxide.

“Seagrasses grow off the coast of many other U.S. states, including North Carolina and Virginia, as well as around the world,” said U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station scientist Zanethia Choice. “Globally, their economic value is nearly $4 trillion.” Read more »