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Five Ways the Trans-Pacific Partnership Will Benefit Agriculture and Rural America

 A man with a boy who is sitting on a small tractor

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the largest multilateral trade agreement since NAFTA, will break down barriers to trade and create significant new opportunities for U.S. agriculture. The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries finalized the terms of the deal in October and it must now be ratified by all the TPP member countries. When it comes to TPP passage, all of us in American agriculture have a stake in the game. Here’s why: Read more »

A Banner Year for Economic and Social Research: 5 Reports on Rural Communities and on Opportunities for Agriculture

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.

Information on economic, demographic, and social developments in rural America, as well as on current and emerging opportunities for farmers is important to policy makers and other stakeholders. USDA’s Economic Research Service this year tracked and analyzed trends in rural areas, particularly employment and population. For farmers, key opportunities include new and evolving trade relations, notably the potential for trade with Cuba and the emergence of China as a major importer.  Both were on ERS’s research agenda this year, as was an evolving opportunity on the domestic front  – the  growth in sales of locally sourced farm products.

Let’s review 5 ERS reports featured in 2015: Read more »

A High Five for Transformed Communities

Lower Kalskag residents Marcus Lake and his mother, Carrie

Lower Kalskag residents Marcus Lake and his mother, Carrie, will have fresh running water and indoor plumbing for the first time once the project is complete in the Alaskan village. USDA photo by James Pendleton

If there’s a pinnacle of pride I have in our USDA Rural Development staff, it’s their ability to work with rural communities and our public and private partners to be a positive force for transformation in cities and towns across the country. For my #HighFive to our staff at Headquarters and in field offices across the nation and territories, I want to highlight five projects that have transformed rural communities.

In west Tennessee, contaminated groundwater and the lack of a public water treatment facility were causing health concerns and uncertainty for the residents of Springville and Sandy Beach, and they had few affordable options for addressing these serious issues. With investment from USDA Rural Development and other federal and state partners, the communities now share nearly 30 miles of water distribution lines and a new tank that provide clean, safe, and reliable water to the area. Read more »

Habitat Restoration Benefits Both Wildlife and Working Lands

Three men working together

NRCS works with agricultural producers, including forest landowners, to enhance and protect wildlife habitat like longleaf pine forests for gopher tortoise and other species.

Seventy percent of the land in the lower 48 states is privately owned, home to productive working farms, ranches and forests that account for much of our nation’s open space and wildlife habitat. For 80 years USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has worked side-by-side with America’s agricultural producers to help them manage their land so that they’re conserving natural resources while maintaining the productivity and profitability of their operations.

Launched in 2012, the Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) partnership uses this win-win approach to systematically target conservation efforts to improve agricultural productivity while enhancing wildlife habitat in landscapes that are home to seven focal species. Read more »

Five Lessons Learned from USDA’s Farmers Market at Night

Food trucks with people ordering

The USDA Farmers Market also lets AMS observe the impact farmers markets have in local food systems.

Our own USDA Farmers Market, brought to you by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), celebrated 20 years of offering Washington, DC access to farm-fresh products this year.

USDA is always looking for innovative ways to help farmers markets succeed and experiment with ways that might help them expand. So this season we added evening hours on the third Friday of every month to the USDA Farmers Market.  Local news outlets like The Washington Post and blogs like BYT DC shared our excitement for the first ever USDA Farmers Market at Night. 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 »