Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

USDA Pledges Support to Restore Water Quality in Vermont’s Lake Champlain

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA will commit $45 million for on-the-ground conservation activities to protect and improve soil and water quality in the Lake Champlain Basin in Vermont over the next five years.  Senator Patrick Leahy (right) and Rep. Peter Welch look on.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA will commit $45 million for on-the-ground conservation activities to protect and improve soil and water quality in the Lake Champlain Basin in Vermont over the next five years. Senator Patrick Leahy (right) and Rep. Peter Welch look on.

Lake Champlain has been plagued by blue-green algae blooms caused by a large amount of phosphorous and other nutrients in the New England lake. Recently, USDA launched a special initiative in the Lake Champlain basin, which is composed of New York and Vermont, to invest $45 million in protecting and improving soil and water quality over the next five years.

“Our work helps farmers prevent phosphorus laden runoff which leads to the blue green algae blooms,” said Vicky Drew, the state conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Vermont. “NRCS conservationists work with farmers to ensure that manure is properly stored, and we provide assistance in the application of manure to their fields according to a nutrient management plan.”  Read more »

Look to Idaho’s Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway for Fall Color Vistas

State Highway 21, the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway, winds across slopes between Idaho City and Lowman on the Boise National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service/ Edna Rey-Vizgirdas)

State Highway 21, the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway, winds across slopes between Idaho City and Lowman on the Boise National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service/ Edna Rey-Vizgirdas)

One of the first excursions Idaho locals recommend to newcomers is the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway along Highway 21 from Boise to Stanley, Idaho. The popular route traverses foothills, high-elevation forests and scenic river canyons in the heart of the Boise National Forest and Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

Although beautiful in any season, fall is my favorite time of year for exploring Highway 21. The combination of sunny, cool days melding into together with cold-but-not-freezing nights help intensify the forest’s autumn hues. Color is often good in September but generally peaks in in early to mid-October, depending on elevation.  Read more »

Making Strides with School Meals

The following guest blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting the efforts of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country.  We thank them for sharing their stories! Read more »

New Fences Keep Cattle In, But Allow Elk & Wildlife to Move Freely

Ryan Murray, NRCS rangeland management specialist, inspects a wildlife-friendly fence installed on John Nunn’s ranch in Albany County, Wyoming.

Ryan Murray, NRCS rangeland management specialist, inspects a wildlife-friendly fence installed on John Nunn’s ranch in Albany County, Wyoming.

Long-time rancher John Nunn’s land is near a route where pronghorn migrate. His ranch is surrounded by woven fences, and although the pronghorn can sometimes find a way through, he wanted to ease access for them.

 “We found they would go a certain path, and we didn’t want to jeopardize that,” Nunn said. Read more »

Northeast Climate Hub, University Partners, to Assist Producers and Land Managers Adapt to Climate and Weather Variability

As Director of the USDA Northeast Climate Hub, I am pleased to announce new partnerships with 12 land grant universities. This partnership effort will give the region’s farmers, foresters, and land managers better access to information and tools for adapting to climate and weather variability.

The Northeast Climate Hub is one of seven hubs around the country formed to address increasing climate and weather related risks to agriculture such as devastating floods, crippling droughts, extreme storms, fires, and invasive pests. Read more »

New Mexico: A Rich Cultural History of Farming and Ranching

Just in time for football season and fall – New Mexico leads the nation in chili pepper acreage.  Check back next Thursday for more fun facts about another state from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

Just in time for football season and fall – New Mexico leads the nation in chili pepper acreage. Check back next Thursday for more fun facts about 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.

Farming has been a part of New Mexico as far back as 2,500 years ago beginning with the Mogollon people who grew corn, squash and beans. Throughout history, American Indians, Spanish explorers and Anglo pioneers all played key roles in shaping what you see in our state’s agriculture today. Read more »