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Category: Energy

Maine Agriculture is “Up” in More Ways than One

Maine's agriculture and farm-related demographics are growing and diversifying each year. Check back next Thursday to learn more about the 2012 Census of Agriculture results as we highlight another state.

Maine's agriculture and farm-related demographics are growing and diversifying each year. Check back next Thursday to learn more about the 2012 Census of Agriculture results as we highlight another state.

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.

When examining the status of Maine’s agriculture using statistics derived from the 2012 Census of Agriculture, the words “up” and “increase” appear quite often. Our state’s agriculture and farm-related demographics are growing and diversifying each year.

Both the number of farms and land in farms in Maine increased since the last Census of Agriculture in 2007. In fact, we have the most farms of the New England states, and the land in farms is up eight percent from 2007. In addition, the average size of a Maine farm is 178 acres, up seven percent since 2007. Organic production and aquaculture sales increased from between 2007 and 2012 as well: the value of aquaculture sales increased from $26.3 million to $75.1 million (ranking us eighth nationally) and organic products increased from $23.3 million to $36.4 million. Lastly, since the 2007 Census, the total market value of agricultural sales increased 24 percent, the average value of sales per farm increased 23 percent, and the value of crops, including nursery and greenhouse, went up 46 percent. Read more »

USDA Partnerships Make Great Things Happen in Rural America: Disabled Woman Walks Across the Threshold of Her Own Home

Collette Brandt and her miniature pinschers enjoy their new home, particularly the large yard and beautiful tree. Collette walks the dogs through her new neighborhood as part of her therapy.

Collette Brandt and her miniature pinschers enjoy their new home, particularly the large yard and beautiful tree. Collette walks the dogs through her new neighborhood as part of her therapy.

This summer, USDA is highlighting partnerships to invest in the future of rural America. Our partners work with us year after year to leverage resources and grow economic opportunities. They are the key to ensuring our rural communities thrive. Follow more of our stories at #RuralPartners.

In recognition of National Homeownership Month, we recently cut the ribbon to Collette Brandt’s home. Collette has seen a lot of struggles over the past three years.  After falling at home and tragically severing her spinal column, the occupational therapist was told she may never walk again. The tragedy coincided with the end of a long term relationship and Collette had to move in with a co-worker.  Determined to walk again and eventually own her own home, Collette’s determination drove her to work her way back on her feet physically and financially.

Not sure of her options as a middle-aged, currently disabled single woman, Collette reached out to Melanie Page at the Union County Housing Authority (UCHA).  Through a Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development HOME grant (a federally funded program that provides municipalities with grant and loan assistance as well as technical assistance to expand the supply of decent and affordable housing for low- and very low-income Pennsylvanians), the UCHA builds and refurbishes homes for income eligible residents over the age of 55. As an added bonus, the homes are part of an energy research project with Pennsylvania State University. Read more »

Small Loan Makes Big Difference for Family in Remote Area of Navajo Nation

Mark Snyder, Tony Hernandez and the Schulers check out the solar array.

Mark Snyder, Tony Hernandez and the Schulers check out the solar array.

Some mornings Nona Schuler would make the teeth-jarring drive along a washboard dirt road from her home on the Navajo Nation to her job in town only to discover when she got there that her earrings didn’t match. Without electricity and lighting, it was often difficult for her to see what she was doing in those early morning hours.

It was those small inconveniences that she spoke of most during a visit to her home on June 17 by USDA Rural Development Housing Administrator Tony Hernandez.

Hernandez, my staff, and I were at the Schulers to present the family with a certificate naming them as Homeownership Family of the Year for Arizona Rural Development. The designation was in honor of a solar PV system that was added to the Schuler home through a partnership with USDA, Grand Canyon Trust and Snyder Electric. Read more »

Wyoming Agriculture: Growing Opportunities

Wyoming agriculture is growing big, like the size of their average farm.  Check back next Thursday for the next state spotlight from the 2012 Census of Agriculture and the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Wyoming agriculture is growing big, like the size of their average farm. Check back next Thursday for the next state spotlight from the 2012 Census of Agriculture and the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

In May 2014, abundant snow and rain turned Wyoming pastures and crops green. In the same month, the 2012 Census of Agriculture showed that farmers and ranchers grew their opportunities from 2007 to 2012.

Wyoming is one of only 10 states that increased both the number of farms and ranches, up 6.1 percent, as well as the amount of land they operate, up 0.6 percent, between 2007 and 2012. Once again, Wyoming farmers and ranchers operated the largest farms and ranches in the U.S. with an average of 2,587 acres per farm compared with the U.S. average of 434 acres. Not only did the total number of farmers and ranchers increase, but the number of young farmers and ranchers increased, too. The number of Wyoming farmers and ranchers under the age of 35 increased by 17.4 from 2007-2012.

Read more »

Hawaiian Agriculture Remains Unique

NASS launches its weekly state spotlight series today with Hawaii – where more farmers generate their own electricity than in any other state.  Check back next Thursday for more highlights from the 2012 Census of Agriculture!

NASS launches its weekly state spotlight series today with Hawaii – where more farmers generate their own electricity than in any other state. Check back next Thursday for more highlights 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.

Hawaii may have only 7,000 farms, but our farming community is truly special and unique. For example, it is the only state in the United States where farmers grow taro, pineapples for commercial sales, and coffee. And if having such unique commodities isn’t enough, it is also the state that has the largest percentage of farmers and ranchers participating in renewable energy projects, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. More than 18 percent of our farms produce their own renewable energy on their farms.

The island environment is conducive to renewable energy production. Hawaii has abundant sunshine and steady trade winds which are favorable for investing in renewable energy systems.  As a result many farms can set up photovoltaic panels and windmills to convert the sun and the wind to electricity. Read more »

USDA Celebrates Rural Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs During National Small Business Week

National Small Business Week began yesterday with a proclamation from President Obama recognizing the small businesses across the Nation which, especially in our rural and small-town communities, making vital contributions to communities and the American economy.

Individually, the impact of a small business may seem minor in comparison with conglomerates. The Small Business Administration (SBA), however, estimates that more than half of our American workforce either owns or is employed by a small business, and two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year is created by–you guessed it–a small business. It’s clear this portion of economy is significant, but in rural towns and areas where each job and transaction has an effect on the community, small business is essential.  In rural America, the entrepreneurs, mom-and-pop shops, agri-businesses, small-scale manufacturers, and other enterprises are the local economy. Read more »