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Category: Environment

Opening Doors for #WomeninAg

Earlier this week, I hosted a White House Rural Council discussion with farmers, business owners, board members, commodity groups, youth leaders and academics to discuss opportunities for women in agriculture. The group included women and men, conventional farmers and organic producers and organizations like Food Corps, the Future Farmers of America Foundation and the American Farm Bureau.  There were major corporations including Coca Cola and Land O’ Lakes as well as smaller operations like Sandy Oaks Olive Orchards from Texas.

In preparation for the meeting, I asked the participants to use #womeninag to identify inspiring women in agriculture.  The overwhelming response on Twitter stimulated our discussion and motivated the group to identify what we can do to continue supporting women in agriculture. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Growing the #RuralMade Economy

Those of us who call rural America home know that there’s more to the rural economy than just farms and ranches. From biobased products to rural manufacturing, the potential to grow and make innovative products in rural America is limitless.

As part of our commitment to strengthening rural economies, USDA this week released a new series of state-by-state “Made in Rural America” factsheets. Each state factsheet is a snapshot of how USDA investments help to build a better atmosphere for small business in rural America. Read more »

Arkansas Farmers Combine Tradition with Stewardship

Variety.  Many Arkansas land-owners collectively harvest crops from catfish to poultry to rice to snap beans to watermelons, making Arkansas agriculture thrive.  Check back next Thursday for more interesting information on another state from the 2012 Census of Agriculture!

Variety. Many Arkansas land-owners collectively harvest crops from catfish to poultry to rice to snap beans to watermelons, making Arkansas agriculture thrive. Check back next Thursday for more interesting information on 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 a huge presence in Arkansas, as evidenced by the results of the recent Census of Agriculture. In 2012, our state ranked 14th in the nation in value of agriculture products sold. That year Arkansas farmers sold $9.78 billion worth of crops and livestock!

Our state cuisine is the perfect indicator of our state’s farming. Rice is a staple in our kitchens, and not surprisingly, Arkansas rice growers led the nation in production of this important crop. In 2012, 1.29 million acres of Arkansas farmland were dedicated to rice production. Almost half of all U.S. rice came from our farmers that year. Read more »

USDA Climate Hubs Website: Connecting Stakeholders to the Hubs

The USDA Climate Hubs home page.

The USDA Climate Hubs home page.

I’m happy to announce that as of today, the USDA Climate Hubs have an official home on the web. The new site provides a portal for farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and others to find useful, practical information to help cope with the challenges and stressors caused by a changing climate. We hope this site will serve as a gateway not only to the information and tools provided by the regional Hubs, but also to the larger network of USDA programs that provide conservation and planning support to land managers.

The Hubs Site comprises a suite of pages specific to each region across the country.  By browsing through the pages for each region, you can find information on agriculture and forestry vulnerabilities related to climate change and tools to cope with these changes. You’ll also find more information about the Hubs program, and contact information to get in touch with the right specialist in your area. Read more »

#AgStrong Innovation in Rural America

Almond growers are innovative in their water savings. This orchard uses micro-irrigation, which efficiently directs water. Photo courtesy of the Almond Board.

Almond growers are innovative in their water savings. This orchard uses micro-irrigation, which efficiently directs water. Photo courtesy of the Almond Board.

It takes a lot of hard work to make a living out of farming, to build a thriving agricultural business and it takes ingenuity. This is especially true in rural America, where dedicated farmers and ranchers rely on each other and the communities around them to fuel innovation and create opportunity. From nutritional research to competitions that promote sustainability and continued environmental care, ag promotion programs—with oversight from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)—help American farmers make long-term investments that ensure a better future for everyone.

For more than 30 years, California almond growers have pooled their resources under the Almond Board, focusing on research and techniques to make the most of precious water resources.  Efficient water use and irrigation management are vital to the success of California’s Central Valley almond growers, ensuring that consumer demand for almonds can be met sustainably.  State-of-the-art farming and production developments over the past two decades have helped farmers reduce the amount of water they use per pound of almonds grown by 33 percent. Key strategies have included the wide adoption of micro-irrigation as well as advances in soil assessment and monitoring. Read more »

Celebrating Old North State Agriculture

North Carolina sells the largest number of Christmas trees east of the Mississippi River – along with lots of agricultural products.  Check back next Thursday for more information from the 2012 Census of Agriculture and another state spotlight!

North Carolina sells the largest number of Christmas trees east of the Mississippi River – along with lots of agricultural products. Check back next Thursday for more information from the 2012 Census of Agriculture and another state spotlight!

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.

Today is a special day in North Carolina. It’s the first day of our state fair, marking 147th time we’re celebrating the rich history of North Carolina and pay tribute to our local agriculture.

Farming has always been a major part of North Carolina culture and as the recent Census of Agriculture results showed, our farmers continue to hold one of the leading positions in the nation. In 2012, our state ranked #1 in the United States in poultry and egg sales at more than $4.8 billion. That year there were more than 160 million birds in the state. Read more »