Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Category: Environment

Cultivating Seeds of Success in a Global Marketplace

The international seed trade plays an intricate role in what we call the American way of life, providing us the products we know and love.

The international seed trade plays an intricate role in what we call the American way of life, providing us the products we know and love.

Did you know that corn and soybeans account for 50 percent of the harvested acres in the United States?  Together, these two commodities had $106 billion in sales in 2012—not bad for products that start off as humble seeds.  The U.S. seed industry is valued at more than $7 billion, and accounts for 34 percent of the world’s international seed trade.  Our top seed exports are corn, soybean and sunflower seeds.  And the international seed trade plays an intricate role in what we call the American way of life, providing us the products we know and love.

In today’s global market, limitations in manufacturing capabilities, shifts in climate, or simple geography all impact a country’s ability to satisfy all of its own needs.  This means economies and agriculture systems around the globe are interconnected. Through trade, countries are able to market their resources to boost their economies and ensure access to a stable supply of food and products. Read more »

Farming on the Rise in Connecticut

Farming in Connecticut is big, even if it is the third smallest state. Check back next Thursday to learn more about the 2012 Census of Agriculture as we spotlight another state.

Farming in Connecticut is big, even if it is the third smallest state. Check back next Thursday to learn more about the 2012 Census of Agriculture as we spotlight 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.

Connecticut may be the third smallest state in the Union, but it has a large agricultural presence, as the results of the 2012 Census of Agriculture showed.

Bucking the national trend, Connecticut farming has been growing for the past two decades. We now have nearly 6,000 farms, which may not seem like a lot, but it’s a staggering 60 percent increase from the 3,754 farms we had in our state in 1982. At the same time, our farmland acreage remained relatively stable, which means that the size of an average farm has been trending down. As of 2012, an average Connecticut farm is 73 acres. Read more »

California Producer Preserves Rare Breed

Not even a three year drought weakens Glenn Nakagawa’s resolve or determination to maintain his herd and protect the unique genetics of his American Wagyu cattle.

Not even a three year drought weakens Glenn Nakagawa’s resolve or determination to maintain his herd and protect the unique genetics of his American Wagyu cattle.

This post is part of a disaster assistance program feature series on the USDA blog. Check back every Wednesday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

The Nakagawa Ranch (Valley Springs, Calif.), owned and operated by Glenn and Keiko Nakagawa, is a cattle operation steeped in history and tradition. The Nakagawas raise American Wagyu (Wa = Japanese and, Gyu= Cow) cattle, originating in Japan, but bred today in the U.S. for their excellent meat quality and calving ease.

Nakagawa is a third generation rancher who owns and works the same ground his grandfather, an immigrant from Hiroshima, Japan purchased two days before Pearl Harbor — an event that would force the entire Nakagawa family into internment camps until 1946 when they were able to return home to the ranch. 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 »

Drought Assistance Helps Nebraska Rancher Get Back on Track

Like many ranchers suffering from the effects of drought, LaNelle Martin paid $5,000 more for high-priced hay and feed to keep her small operation running.

Like many ranchers suffering from the effects of drought, LaNelle Martin paid $5,000 more for high-priced hay and feed to keep her small operation running.

This post is part of a disaster assistance program feature series on the USDA blog. Check back every Wednesday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

When enrollment opened for the USDA disaster assistance programs this April, LaNelle Martin was one of the first to sign up at the Kimball County FSA office in Nebraska.

“After two years of a severe drought our pastures are limited and haven’t grown,” said Martin. “We need the pasture to support our cattle and the cost of feed and hay is pricey.”

Nebraska, along with portions of the southern and western parts of the United States has suffered one of the longest and most devastating droughts in history. Kimball County’s worst seasons were 2012 to 2013, when the area was named a primary natural disaster area by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. This year, some snow and spring rains provided a little relief, “But as most of our producers say, we are only four to six weeks away from another disaster,” said Patricia Perry, FSA program technician in the Kimball County office. Read more »

Conservation and Innovation Preserve Water Resources for Generations to Come

An infographic exploring water conservation efforts across American commodity production. AMS product. (Click to enlarge).

An infographic exploring water conservation efforts across American commodity production. AMS product. (Click to enlarge).

Farmers have always been particularly attuned to the forces of nature – it’s in the job description, after all. When the regularity of growing seasons collides with the irregularity of extreme conditions like droughts, floods, windstorms, the American farming community is motivated to innovate and conserve.

For years, farmers have been leveraging the collective power of research and promotion programs to invest in research that improves on-farm practices through both innovation and conservation. Their efforts, with oversight from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), has resulted in significant water and soil conservation, safeguarding our land for future generations.

Critical among these practices is smart irrigation.  Almond growers in California have funded 71 irrigation projects over a 32-year period.  Through these projects, growers have learned that micro-drip irrigation not only uses much less water than older methods, but also generates more vigorous plant growth.  With the targeted distribution and uniformity, this increases crop production. Read more »