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Helping Farmers Adapt to Extreme Weather and a Changing Climate

USDA Adaptation Resources for Agriculture Workbook cover graphic

USDA Adaptation Resources for Agriculture Workbook cover graphic

Changes in climate and more extreme weather are already increasing challenges for agriculture and natural resource managers nationally and globally.  Many of these challenges are expected to continue into the future.

A new USDA report Adaptation Resources for Agriculture: Responding to Climate Variability and Change in the Midwest and Northeast provides educators and advisors information, perspective and resources to help farmers in the region prepare for, cope with and recover from the adverse impacts of a changing climate. Developed collaboratively by scientists, conservationists and educators, the report translates the best available climate science into usable resources for making climate-informed decisions. Read more »

Small Town 4-H’er Reaches for the Stars

Peggy Whitson monitoring a soybean plant growth experiment

Peggy Whitson monitors a soybean plant growth experiment on one of her previous International Space Station (ISS) expeditions. Whitson, a former 4-H’er, is now the ISS commander. (NASA photo)

Many kids gaze up into the night’s sky and dream of touching the stars. Peggy Whitson, NASA astronaut and commander of the International Space Station, turned that dream into reality.

Whitson grew up in the small town of Beaconsfield, Iowa, completing standard chores like mowing the lawn and caring for animals, but never lost her determination to fly and eventually go to outer space. At the age of nine, Whitson became involved with the 4-H program. Her brothers and sisters were active with the local Ringgold County 4-H club and it was a natural fit for her. The program played a key role in helping her develop from a shy girl into an exceptional leader. Read more »

Research in Energy Security Helps Lead to Food Security in West Africa

Cochran Fellows receiving training from the USDA Forest Products Laboratory

Cochran Fellows receive training from the USDA Forest Products Laboratory during a hands-on workshop on low-cost, high-efficiency cooking stoves. The stoves provide gains in efficiency, as well as reduce pollution offering benefits such as a lower incidence of pulmonary diseases.

Research shows the majority of people in Africa depend on biomass to meet their energy needs, with approximately 80 percent relying on wood energy. Such high dependency makes families vulnerable to unexpected and sudden changes, including extreme weather and socio-political events. Researching and developing ways to diversify energy sources is crucial for a more sustainable, food secure future.

A project funded through the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Cochran Fellowship Program on “Biofuels for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods,” hosted by the University of Missouri (MU) College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources International Programs, set out to address this very issue. The research and training program was organized for West African Cochran Fellows to learn how different uses of biofuels can help support sustainable livelihoods in their communities. The two-week-long program consisted of workshops, field visits and interactive discussions in cooperation with the USDA Forest Products Laboratory, the MU Center for Agroforestry, Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture and Envest Microfinance. Read more »

How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey

 

Approximate Turkey Roasting Times

Approximate Turkey Roasting Times

As with many things in life, when cooking a turkey you can do it the easy way, or you can do it the hard way. Read more »

SNAP Employment and Training (E&T): USDA Study Finds Skills, Credentials Critical to Helping SNAP Participants Find Jobs

SNAP E&T helps participants develop skills to find better jobs.

SNAP E&T helps participants develop skills to find better jobs.

The vast majority of jobs in the future will require some level of education beyond high school.  Unfortunately, these jobs are out of reach for the majority of SNAP participants, who often lack the skills they need to compete in today’s job market.  To combat this challenge, USDA offers the SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program. SNAP E&T, which is available in all states, is a skills and job training program designed to help SNAP participants prepare for and secure jobs that lead to economic self-sufficiency.  SNAP E&T programs provide SNAP participants the opportunities to gain skills, training and experience, which increase their ability to qualify and get hired for jobs with earnings high enough to transition off of SNAP.  A newly released SNAP E&T Best Practices report provides new insights into how states can strengthen SNAP E&T programs and make them more effective at helping SNAP participants gain the skills employers are seeking and support long-term self-sufficiency for SNAP participants.  Read more »

Wily coyotes continue to thrive in the Southeast at the expense of deer populations

Historically a species of the North American plains, coyotes now occupy much of the Southeast. (Photo by Rebecca Richardson, courtesy of Wikimedia.org.)

Historically a species of the North American plains, coyotes now occupy much of the Southeast. (Photo by Rebecca Richardson, courtesy of Wikimedia.org.)

Coyotes began migrating eastward throughout the latter half of the 20th Century. Once restricted to the western plains, they now occupy most of the continent and have invaded farms and cities, where they have expanded their diet to include squirrels, household pets and discarded fast food.

Land-use changes in the U.S., the disappearance of wolves, a growing human population, and a remarkable ability to adapt to new environments and conditions encouraged coyotes to expand into new habitats and thrive, while other predators faced with similar pressures dwindled and faced extinction. Read more »