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Category: Environment

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 »

Texas Agriculture, Bigger in More Ways Than You Might Know

It’s no bull, and no fairy-tail (tale) – Texas cattle production alone is worth more than the total agricultural production of all but 6 states.  Check back next Thursday for more details on another state from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

It’s no bull, and no fairy-tail (tale) – Texas cattle production alone is worth more than the total agricultural production of all but 6 states. Check back next Thursday for more details 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.

Nearly a quarter of a million farms covering more than 130 million acres of land, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, means Texas has more farms and land in farms than any other state in the U.S.  Texas has about 72,000 more farms and 4 million more acres of farm land, than in Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma combined.  Not a surprise to some, but let’s consider the vastness of Texas agriculture from a few other perspectives.

Texas women operated 38,452 farms, a farm count greater than total farms in 28 states.  Farms operated by Texas women cover over 12 million acres, more than total land in farms in 27 states. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Bioeconomy Brings Big Opportunity to Rural America

Today, small businesses and global companies alike have harnessed the power of America’s farms to create new biobased products that are used all around the world. Everything from cleaning products to packing peanuts originates in rural America, and the potential to create even more new products derived from the crops grown in rural America is nearly limitless.

Yesterday, I visited the first-ever Bioproducts World Showcase, hosted by the Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center at Ohio State University. At the Showcase, I had the opportunity to see the latest and greatest in cutting edge innovation in the bioeconomy and speak with leaders across the bioeconomy about emerging opportunities and challenges in the bioeconomy. Read more »

Creating New Opportunities for the Sheep Industry

USDA is committed to working with our partners in the sheep industry to support them as they provide quality products to consumers and increase producer returns here at home. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung

USDA is committed to working with our partners in the sheep industry to support them as they provide quality products to consumers and increase producer returns here at home. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung

Since they were brought over during the earliest explorations of North America, the sheep industry has played a vital role in the agricultural history of our nation.  In the 1940s, there were over 55 million sheep in the U.S., but today those numbers hover around one-tenth of that total.  There are about 80,000 sheep ranchers across the U.S., and, with support from the 2014 Farm Bill, they will have additional resources to help develop innovative approaches to address their long-term needs.

Consolidation of the U.S. sheep packing industry, higher feed and energy costs, loss of animals to predators and lower lamb consumption, along with competition from imported of lamb cuts, have taken their toll on U.S. sheep producers.  In response to industry needs, USDA is committed to working with our stakeholders to ensure the long-term viability of the sheep industry. Read more »