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Category: Economic Growth

Women are the Past, Present and Future of American Agriculture

Cross posted from the White House Rural Council blog:

From historic homesteaders to contemporary cattle ranchers, women have been the cornerstone of America’s agriculture heritage. We’ve produced food to feed our families, feed our neighbors and to feed the world.

The 2012 Census of Agriculture notes that nearly one million women are working America’s lands. That’s nearly a third of our nation’s farmers.  These women are generating $12.9 billion in annual agricultural sales.

Farm work isn’t the only way women are contributing to agriculture.  We are scientists, economists, foresters, veterinarians and conservationists. We are in the boardrooms and the corner offices of international enterprises, and are the owners and operators of small businesses. We are property owners and managers. We are policy makers and standard bearers.  Women are increasingly involved in every aspect of agriculture.

On October 20, I have invited a small group of leaders from almost all corners of the ag sector to join me at the White House and discuss the future of women in agriculture.  Co-hosted by the White House Rural Council, and co-organized by AGree (a collaborative initiative of nine of the world’s leading foundations to tackle long-term food and agriculture issues), this meeting will be an opportunity to discuss the impact women have had in American agriculture and the vision we have for the next generation of agricultural leaders.

Women principal farm operators average 60 years old. This means our daughters and granddaughters hold the future of American agriculture in their hands.  As women leaders, it is our responsibility to make sure the next generation of women are educated, trained and prepared to usher agriculture into the future.

When I was a kid growing up on a Georgia peanut farm, I was inspired by my mother’s hard work on and off the farm. She taught me to carry my love of the land into all aspects of my life. As my career has developed, I have continued to be inspired by not only incredibly strong and talented women who are making a difference in agriculture, but also by men who recognize the vital role that women play in this industry. Monday’s dialogue will be just one of many parts of an important conversation on how we can better engage and empower women to continue helping agriculture succeed.

Join the conversation using #womeninag and share with the world the women who inspire you.

Wisconsin Welcomes the World

Agricultural attachés from around the world explore a cranberry marsh in Warrens, Wis.

Agricultural attachés from around the world explore a cranberry marsh in Warrens, Wis.

Wisconsin is known worldwide for its cheese, but what about its cranberries, ginseng, urban agriculture or innovative biofuels research? Last week, I had the opportunity to help expand the global reputation of Wisconsin beyond dairy. I shared the diversity of American agriculture with representatives from over 20 countries through a tour of the state.

Agricultural attachés from around the world are usually stationed at their countries’ embassies in Washington, DC – close to the politics but far away from most American agriculture. To give these representatives a real look at our industry, USDA-FAS arranges annual tours to various parts of the United States. It’s a great opportunity for the attachés to learn about the variety that exists in American agriculture, to see some of our innovative approaches, and to meet the farmers who provide products exported to their countries. Read more »

North Dakota Agriculture: One Word – Diversity

North Dakota farmers don’t have to be Meek – they can brag about leading the nation in the production of Durum and spring wheat, as well as honey, pinto beans, canola, and other crops as well.  Check back next Thursday as we spotlight another state and the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

North Dakota farmers don’t have to be Meek – they can brag about leading the nation in the production of Durum and spring wheat, as well as honey, pinto beans, canola, and other crops as well. Check back next Thursday as we spotlight another state and the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

Even before Lewis and Clark explored the Northern Plains in 1804 and 1805, agriculture was very prevalent in the area that later became North Dakota and it is still widespread today. The 2012 Census of Agriculture showed that farms and ranches occupy 39.3 million acres of land in North Dakota, which is an amazing 89-percent of the total land in the state.

North Dakota is a very diverse state when it comes to the number of commodities produced, especially for crops. In 2012, our farmers led the nation in the production of all dry edible beans, navy beans, pinto beans, canola, flaxseed, honey, Durum wheat, and spring wheat. North Dakota was also the second leading state in barley, lentils, oats, dry edible peas, sunflowers, and all wheat production. We also were in the top five for the production of multiple other crops. So as you can see, the state’s producers are varied in what they produce and the amount that they produce. 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 »

USDA Continues to Exceed Small Business Goals

The Federal Government recently announced that it met its annual government contracting goal for small business. The government contracting goals are measured as a percentage of overall government contracts awarded. The Federal Government mandates 23 percent to be awarded of all prime contracts to small businesses and for Fiscal Year 2013, the government awarded 23.9 percent.

USDA has consistently met or exceeded its small business goal and received another “A” for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013.  In fact, USDA awarded 54.16 percent of eligible contracts to small businesses, exceeding the 53.5 percent goal provided the Department by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Read more »

Join Us for a Google+ Hangout: Growing the Organic Sector

On Wednesday, May 14th at 1:00 PM EDT, the USDA’s National Organic Program Specialist Betsy Rakola will host a Google+ Hangout to discuss strategies for growing U.S. organic production. During this Hangout, you’ll hear from farmers, organic certifiers, researchers, and community organizations at the forefront of todays’ organic market.

Participate in the Hangout on Wednesday by watching it live on the USDA Google+ page or on www.usda.gov/live.  Some of the questions we will discuss are: Read more »