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Category: Conservation

Improving Agricultural Productivity in Uganda

Grace Opono uses her oxen to implement new conservation techniques she learned thanks to USDA's Food for Progress Program.

Grace Opono uses her oxen to implement new conservation techniques she learned thanks to USDA's Food for Progress Program.

Standing next to her healthy oxen, Grace Opono explains how new conservation techniques have doubled her maize yield over just two seasons. She is also earning a second income by providing tilling services to neighbors with her oxen. She tells me she can now afford to pay the school fees for her children and reinvest money in her land.  This story of achievement shows that USDA’s Food for Progress Program is making a difference.

On a recent trip to Uganda, I saw first-hand the difference USDA-funded projects are making in people’s lives. The Food for Progress Program, administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, helps developing countries and emerging democracies introduce and expand free enterprise in the agricultural sector. U.S. agricultural commodities donated to recipient countries are sold on the local market and the proceeds are used to support agricultural, economic or infrastructure development programs administered by government agencies and private volunteer organizations (PVOs). Read more »

Summer Interns Help Serve the Public While Learning Real-World Skills

NRCS interns met with Juan Hernandez, NRCS state conservationist for Maine, to learn more about the agency.

NRCS interns met with Juan Hernandez, NRCS state conservationist for Maine, to learn more about the agency.

Interns at USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) bring new energy and insight to the workplace. Plus, internships equip students with real-world skills that will help them in their future careers.

Interns this summer had an opportunity to work in a variety of fields, including data analysis, accounting and staffing – all important facets of the nation’s private lands conservation agency.

Meet Cindy Lee, who worked as a management analyst intern in NRCS’ Office of Regional Conservationists. Lee is a recent graduate of the University of California, Irvine, where she studied political science and social policy. Read more »

USDA Conservation Plan Helps Florida Ranchers Afford to Protect and Serve a County

John Bushell with one of the horses on his ranch west of Dade City, Fla. NRCS photo.

John Bushell with one of the horses on his ranch west of Dade City, Fla. NRCS photo.

John and Margaret Bushell planned to retire 11 years ago after a long career in law enforcement. But when they were about to settle down on their 50-acre ranch near Dade City, Fla. to tend cattle and ride horses, they got offered a deal from the nearby sheriff that they couldn’t pass up.

The sheriff asked them to work part time from their ranch, heading up the Pasco Sheriff’s Mounted Posse. John was a former deputy chief of police for the Tampa Police Department, where he worked for 30 years. Margaret also retired from the department, where she worked 17 years as a detective. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: The Farm Bill at Work in Your State

Last week, USDA marked the six-month anniversary of the signing of the 2014 Farm Bill. I am proud to say that we’ve made important progress on every title of the Farm Bill, including issuing disaster assistance payments, updating risk management tools, modifying farm loan programs, announcing new support for agricultural research, establishing new conservation programs, and much more.

My team and I at USDA have gathered together some top statistics that show how the Farm Bill is at work in your state—and the record results we’ve achieved this time around. For example: Read more »

Year One: Building Up the Future of Agriculture

One year ago this week, I was honored to be sworn in as Deputy Secretary of USDA.

Along with Secretary Vilsack, I have had the privilege to lead a remarkable team here at USDA as we have worked to implement the 2014 Farm Bill, create a one-stop-shop for new farmers and ranchers seeking access to resources as they begin their farm businesses and lead a nation-wide discussion about who our next generation of farmers and farm leaders will be.

I am most proud of the opportunities that I have had to meet, learn from, and support the thousands of new farmers and ranchers that I have met during my first year in office. As a daughter of farmers, shaping the future of farming and ranching is incredibly personal for me. Our nation’s farmers and ranchers are exceptionally productive, passionate stewards of our land and it is essential they have all the tools they need to be successful business people. Read more »

Chinese High Tunnel Part of Innovation at Missouri Teaching Farm

Curtis Millsap works in the Chinese High Tunnel on his southwestern Missouri farm. NRCS photo.

Curtis Millsap works in the Chinese High Tunnel on his southwestern Missouri farm. NRCS photo.

You can get just about anything you want at Millsap Farms, including an education about market farming.

Curtis Millsap estimates that he, his family and a crew of interns feed about 200 families on 2.5 acres of his 20-acre farm near Springfield, Mo. While another seven acres of the farm sometimes includes sheep, poultry and cattle, it’s the vegetable operation that supports Millsap, his wife Sarah and their nine young children.

Millsap uses two greenhouses and three seasonal high tunnels to grow produce year-round. Read more »