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

Deck the Halls with Holiday Data

Christmas Trees infographic

U.S. Christmas tree growers harvested and sold 20 million trees last year, up 55 percent in 5 years.

From the smell of fresh pine, to the vibrant colors of poinsettias, the holiday season is the perfect time of year to spotlight America’s horticulture growers through the just released 2014 Census of Horticultural Specialties report. I’ve experienced firsthand how unique and amazing this industry is by working nationwide with producers and stakeholders as USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics (NASS) nursery and floriculture commodity specialist.

For example, did you know farmers can invest more than 8 years growing a Christmas tree for harvest? While there are not many producers dedicated to this work, according to our latest report industry sales grew. In 2014, there were 3,386 Christmas tree producers in the United States. That year there were a total of 20 million cut Christmas trees sold, valued at $367 million in sales. This was a significant increase from the last report in 2009, when only 13 million trees were cut and sold for a total of $250 million. Read more »

A Banner Year for Leadership: 5 Ways We’re Answering America’s Agricultural and Environmental Challenges

USDA scientists work 365 days to provide safe and sustainable food, water, and natural resources in the face of a changing climate and uncertain energy sources. To recognize the contribution that agricultural science and research makes in our daily lives, this week’s “Banner Year” series features stories from 2015 that show the successes that USDA science and statistical agencies made for us all.

In 2015, we’ve seen agriculture and natural resources at the crossroads of the world’s most critical problems: establishing sustainable food production, providing clean and abundant water, responding to climatic variability, developing renewable energy, improving human health, and strengthening food safety.  The immensity and diversity of the difficulties Americans face allowed USDA an excellent opportunity to once again demonstrate our ability and capacity to rise and meet the greatest of challenges.

Here are five stories from 2015 to review: Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Dr. Lois Wright Morton

Dr. Morton (R) and her colleagues looking at the layout of one of the more than 35 field sites they are gathering data on

As project director for the USDA-NIFA Climate and Corn-based Cropping System Coordinated Agricultural Project, Dr. Lois Wright Morton (R) spends a lot of time in corn fields from Iowa to Ohio talking with farmers across the Midwest cornbelt. In this picture, Dr. Morton and her colleagues are looking at the layout of one of the more than 35 field sites they are gathering data on.

As part of our ongoing #womeninag series, we are highlighting a different leading woman in agriculture each month.  This month, we profile Dr. Lois Wright Morton, professor of sociology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University and director of the USDA-NIFA Climate & Corn-based Cropping System Coordinated Agricultural Project.

Dr. Morton’s research focuses on the relationship between people and the natural environment as it relates to climate change. She discusses with us the impact research has on women worldwide and how the field continues to evolve. Read more »

A Banner Year for Data: 5 New Ways We’re Keeping Ag Statistics Current

USDA scientists work 365 days to provide safe and sustainable food, water, and natural resources in the face of a changing climate and uncertain energy sources. To recognize the contribution that agricultural science and research makes in our daily lives, this week’s “Banner Year” series features stories from 2015 that show the successes that USDA science and statistical agencies made for us all.

The past 12 months made for an eventful year in the world of agricultural statistics. In our efforts to remain true to our mission of providing timely, accurate, and useful statistics, we transformed several of our programs and tackled research to keep up with data needs of a changing agricultural industry. These new initiatives ensure that NASS continues to serve farmers, ranchers, and rural communities across the nation and that decisions impacting U.S. agriculture continue to be based on factual data.

Some of our most transformative work in 2015 included: Read more »

Five Things You Should Know About USDA Climate Hubs In 2015

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Agricultural Research Service (ARS) supervisory plant physiologist Dr. Jerry Hatfield discuss gathering information on climate changes and impacts.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Agricultural Research Service (ARS) supervisory plant physiologist Dr. Jerry Hatfield discuss gathering information on climate changes and impacts.

In October the Regional Hub Leads gathered in Washington D.C. to discuss their successes and challenges over the last year. Tasked with producing science-based, region-specific information and tools for their stakeholders, the USDA Regional Climate Hubs spent 2014 working hard to ensure they understood who their constituents where, building regional partnerships, and identifying regional needs before rolling up their sleeves in 2015 to start producing results. Read more »

FSA Partnership Helps New Farmer Connect to the Land

Maria Moreira (left), executive director of World Farmers and Flat Mentor Farm, with Sangiwa Eliamani

Maria Moreira (left), executive director of World Farmers and Flat Mentor Farm, partnered with FSA to help Sangiwa Eliamani build his farming operation.

Growing up in Tanzania, East Africa, Sangiwa Eliamani became a skilled farmer producing rice, millet and cotton throughout the year, using typical hand tools. He had no concerns about seasonal timing or finding markets for his crops, until he moved to the United States and attempted to farm in Massachusetts.

“Over there [in Tanzania] it’s very different,” he said. “We don’t have this limited time to grow.  We have easier access to land and markets to sell our products.” Read more »