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Investing in Opportunity in Indian Country

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack presented with a blanket from the Pine Ridge Reservation, S.D.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is presented a blanket from the Pine Ridge Reservation, S.D., from left to right, Kye Wientjes, Cheyenne River Sioux, Nitara Cheykaychi, Pueblo of Santo Domingo, Jess Begaye Oldham, Navajo Nation, at the “Better the Future” An Indian Agriculture Symposium, hosted by the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) and the Indian Nations Conservation Alliance (INCA), in Las Vegas, NV, on Wednesday, December 7, 2011. USDA photo.

USDA celebrates National Native American Heritage Month in November with a blog series focused on USDA’s support of Tribal Nations and highlighting a number of our efforts throughout Indian Country and Alaska. Follow along on the USDA blog.

Earlier today, I met with leaders from the 566 federally-recognized Native nations who participated in the White House Tribal Nations Conference. This was the seventh of such conferences hosted by the Obama Administration, and built upon the President’s commitment to strengthen the government-to-government relationship with Indian Country and to improve the lives of American Indians and Alaska Natives, with an emphasis on increasing opportunity for Native youth.

All told, over the course of the Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture alone has invested nearly $3 billion in rural development projects that have helped Tribal members achieve the dream of homeownership; improved community facilities in Tribal communities; made critical upgrades to electric, water and telecommunications infrastructure that serve Tribal communities and members; and invested in the Tribal businesses and entrepreneurs who drive economic growth in Indian Country. Read more »

87-Year-Old Cattle Rancher Not Stopping Anytime Soon

Marjorie Fleming with her bulls behind her

At age 87, Marjorie Fleming still runs her 1,400-acre farm, raising quality Black Angus bulls. Fleming secured an FSA microloan to purchase equipment to help her operation run more efficiently.

Marjorie Fleming has been cattle ranching since she was a teenager. Now, at age 87, she has no plans of quitting anytime soon.

“I haven’t thought about stopping,” said Fleming. “I like ranch life, I like being outside and I can get out on my four-wheeler and get around most places and do what I used to do with a horse.”

Growing up in San Andres, N.M., Fleming and her brother used horses to round up goats and cattle on the family ranch. Both parents were disabled — her father with a hip injury and her mother with polio — leaving Fleming and her brother to do the heavy lifting and chores. Read more »

Southeast Regional Climate Hub Celebrates Agriculture Champions of Change

Champions of Change group in front of the White House

The White House recognized 12 Champions of Change for their leadership in sustainable and climate-smart agriculture.

The White House recently recognized 12 Champions of Change for their leadership in sustainable and climate-smart agriculture. This week we will meet them through their USDA Regional Climate Hub, today featuring the Southeast’s William “Buddy” Allen and Donald Tyler.

Farmers, ranchers, and forest land managers across the Southeast are at the forefront of climate change and its various effects on their operations, yields, and profits. Many of these producers know that adaptive agriculture practices can benefit soil, air, and water quality and at the same time increase resilience to climate change and other environmental threats. Communities and businesses that support climate-smart agriculture in turn are creating jobs and growing the rural economy.

USDA’s Southeast Regional Climate Hub works to bring land managers in the Southeast the science and other tools that can help them adapt to changing weather/climate conditions. Many farmers, ranchers and land managers are already leading efforts to develop and demonstrate the value of sustainable agricultural practices that benefit soil, air, and water quality while helping to mitigate climate change by reducing emissions.  Educators and advisors have also been crucial in bringing science-based, sustainable, and climate-informed agricultural practices to the agricultural community. Read more »

USDA Foods Help Nourish a Culture

Musk Ox stew and other food

Recent memos from the Food and Nutrition Service provide clarification on how traditional foods, including Musk Ox in the depicted stew, play a vital role within dietary guidelines. Photo by Sedelta Oosahwee.

USDA celebrates National Native American Heritage Month in November with a blog series focused on USDA’s support of Tribal Nations and highlighting a number of our efforts throughout Indian Country and Alaska.

Traditional foods are of significant value to Native American and Alaskan Natives today.  The same foods that have been used to feed our ancestors not only feed our bodies, but they feed our spirit. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recognizes this importance and works diligently to offer program and partnership opportunities that help enhance traditional food access in Indian Country.

If your tribal community is looking to donate traditional foods to serve at food service programs at public or non-profit facilities, the Service of Traditional Foods in Public Facilities memo provides guidance for organizations and institutions operating under the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Child Nutrition Programs (CNP). The acceptance of these donations is largely possible due to changes in the 2014 Farm Bill that defines traditional foods as including wild game meat, fish, seafood, marine mammals, plants, and berries. Read more »

UGA, Italy Develop Dual Graduate Degree Program

Camilla Borgato crouching on the grass near a lake

Camilla Borgato participated in the NIFA-funded graduate student exchange program. She conducted her thesis research at the University of Georgia’s Tifton Campus and received her master’s degree from Italy’s Università degli Studi di Padova. (Photo courtesy of George Vellidis)

The world will have many more mouths to feed in the next few decades – projected to be more than 9 billion by 2050 – but the amount of arable land is not getting any larger, droughts are taking their toll on fresh water, and there are fewer experienced farmers to do the work.  How will food get on the table?

By globalizing precision agriculture education – the art of gathering and using data to make sound, timely decisions for agricultural production, such as when and how much fertilizer, water, or other resource to add.  Precision agriculture allows growers to maximize yield while minimizing waste.  The result is more food to feed the hungry, a reduced environmental footprint, and greater profits for producers. Read more »

Puerto Rico Colabora con USDA para Fortalecer los Sistemas de Alimentos Locales

Santurce Marketplace en Puerto Rico

La Secretaria de Agricultura de Puerto Rico quiere animar a más mercados de agricultores como el Santurce Marketplace. Este mercado está situado solamente 20 minutos en autobús del Viejo San Juan. Es conocido como uno de los mercados más antiguos donde agricultores traen lo que producen diario y es la primera opción de los residentes. Crédito de la fotografía: cogito ergo imago

El estado libre asociado de Puerto Rico tiene solamente 100 millas de largo por 35 millas de ancho. La pequeña isla está llena de maravillas naturales, rica en cultura y abundante en agricultura. Aun así pocos se dan cuenta que gran parte de los alimentos consumidos por los residentes y visitantes provienen de otros lugares. A principios de este mes, la Dr. Myrna Comas Pagán, Secretaria de Agricultura de Puerto Rico, hizo una visita al Departamento de Agricultura de los Estados Unidos (USDA, por sus siglas en inglés). Ella llego para explorar maneras en cual mi agencia, el Servicio de Comercialización Agrícola (AMS, por sus siglas en inglés), y otras agencias en el departamento pueden ayudar a mejorar el sistema alimenticio local de la isla.

Aunque el valor de la producción agrícola de Puerto Rico ha llegado a $919 millones, un incremento de 14 por ciento en los últimos dos años, falta un sistema de distribución de productos locales en la isla. El sector local de agricultura apoya 6,500 trabajos pero aun ay mucho por hacer. Puerto Rico importa alimentos de 52 países diferentes que pueden dejar el sistema alimenticio vulnerable. Recientemente hubo un evento en cual un barco de carga con destino a Puerto Rico se extravió durante una tormenta de huracán, costándole las vidas a la tripulación, pero también dando por resultado la pérdida de 70 contenedores de alimentos. Read more »