Ice weighs down power lines in Oklahoma following winter storm Goliath. Photo credit: The Oklahoma Association of Electric Co-ops
Now that the ice has finally melted and most of us have our power back on, it’s time to start evaluating the effect of the mega winter storm that screamed through the Southern Plains right after Christmas.
As a brief recap, winter storm Goliath hit the Southern Plains on December 26 through 28 leaving in its wake record snow fall in parts of Texas, power outages from ice accumulations of over one inch in parts of Oklahoma, and freezing rain and sleet in Kansas. Record flooding occurred throughout the Southern Plains making December 2015 the wettest on record for most of the region. It’s been estimated that over 40 people were killed by this storm (many coming from the Southern Plains region), making it the deadliest weather system recorded in 2015. The storm spawned 24 tornadoes, numerous flooding events, and left hundreds of thousands without power. Read more »
Longleaf pine plantations of trees approximately 25 years old have received their first commercial thinning on the Conecuh National Forest. Photo credit: Jim Guldin, US Forest Service
Drought, especially prolonged or severe drought, can be a major stress in forest ecosystems. Drought can kill trees directly or indirectly through insect attack or wildfire. Both of which are more likely to occur during drought.
Tree mortality impacts most of the ecosystem services provided by forests, including the amount of wood that grows, how much carbon is captured and stored, the health of critical wildlife habitat, water yield and quality, and even whether it’s safe to pursue recreational activities such as hiking or hunting. Read more »
U.S. Drought Monitor Drought Assessment map
Drought patterns have always fluctuated and are expected to become increasingly dynamic in the years to come, making managing working lands profitably more of a challenge. Because specific actions for building resilience to drought vary with location and forest type, USDA is helping land managers connect with experts and find region-specific information and tools through the USDA Climate Hubs.
Recent historical drought events vary from region to region, with the western U.S. showing a trend toward dry conditions while trends in the East are more complex. So how can land managers mitigate the impacts of drought on their lands? Read more »
In addition to the impact on the region’s water supply, lower reservoir levels, such as shown in Lake Meade in Nevada, have an adverse effect on outdoor recreation activities and the businesses that support them. (U.S. Geological Survey)
Drought is inevitable, a recurring natural event – or series of events – that can be felt over a season or a severe, longer lasting natural event that has social and economic consequences.
But how land managers prepare for or react at any stage of a drought in today’s world with the increasing effects of climate change and the information they use is the focus of a new report by the U.S. Forest Service, Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis. The exhaustive report evaluates appropriate ways to quantify and monitor drought, assesses consequences for forests and rangelands, and identifies potential adaption strategies. Read more »
The Market Information for the Organization of the Americas (MIOA) members also toured the local wholesale market, Centrais de Abastecimento do Distrito Federal S.A (CEASA-DF) in Brasilia, Brazil. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Fruit and Vegetable Programs Market News Chief of the International Reports Section Dr. Luis Palmer (second from right with blue shirt) tours the market with MIOA members. Photo by Francisco Stuckert, CONAB
Over the last 25 years, the American farmer has become increasingly aware of the impact of South American agricultural output on the global supply of grains and oilseeds. For example, in recent years Brazil has risen to the number one position as an exporter of soybeans. Further, the combined output of Brazil and its neighbors, Argentina and Paraguay, is challenging the United States’ position as the world’s leading supplier of corn.
Brazil is unique in that it has a relatively stable agricultural output trend due to improving production techniques, and in most years, abundant rainfall for production of various crops. The climate and cropping patterns are behind the increases in agricultural production, which were made possible by the shift of production into regions less prone to drought. There is also the potential for expansion into untapped lands, although infrastructure and land ownership issues are a limiting factor. Meantime, thanks to ample rainfall and land resources enjoyed by producers, Brazil has the potential to become an agricultural powerhouse for years to come. Read more »
Today, USDA is launching USDA Results, a progressive, year-long, multimedia storytelling effort showcasing the Administration’s work on behalf of those living, working and raising families in rural America. Each month, USDA will release a new chapter of the story at medium.com/usda-results. We encourage you to check out January’s chapter, Celebrating America’s Farmers and Ranchers: Supporting the Producers Who Ensure a Safe, Affordable, Nutritious American Food Supply, and follow along throughout 2016.
When I began my service as Secretary of Agriculture in 2009, I took the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nickname of the ‘People’s Department’—first coined by President Abraham Lincoln—to heart.
President Lincoln knew the importance of agriculture to national prosperity—particularly at a time when about half of all Americans lived on the farm. He understood the critical responsibility of USDA and government to serve and support American agriculture and the rural communities who have, since the founding of our country, helped to drive innovation and economic growth on a national scale. Read more »