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Tennessee Farmers Play Strong Role in State’s Economy

The Volunteer State’s motto is “Agriculture and Commerce,” and the results of the 2012 Census of Agriculture show why.  Check back next Thursday for another look at another state and the 2012 Census results.

The Volunteer State’s motto is “Agriculture and Commerce,” and the results of the 2012 Census of Agriculture show why. Check back next Thursday for another look at another state and the 2012 Census results.

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.

Since 1801, Tennessee’s motto has been “Agriculture and Commerce,” and as we see in the latest Census of Agriculture results, our farmers do their part to stay true to it. In 2012, our state’s farmers and ranchers sold more than $3.6 billion worth of agricultural products.

Cattle is the largest sector of Tennessee’s farming industry. More than half of our state’s 68,050 farms raise cattle. The 2012 Ag Census counted more than 1.8 million head of cattle on 38,826 farms. Of these farms, 979 focused on dairy while 33,556 were beef cattle farms. This is also why our farmers spent nearly $680 million on feed purchases in 2012. Feed was by far the largest expense for our farmers in 2012. Read more »

Hoop Houses in Nevada Elementary Schools to Help ‘Plant a Seed’ in Young Minds for Healthy Eating

Lisa Maslach, school counselor; Judy Halterman, Veggies for Kids Program; and Staci Emm, with the Extension, discuss planting techniques and strategies at Yerington Elementary School. NRCS photo by Heather Emmons.

Lisa Maslach, school counselor; Judy Halterman, Veggies for Kids Program; and Staci Emm, with the Extension, discuss planting techniques and strategies at Yerington Elementary School. NRCS photo by Heather Emmons.

Above the sounds of whirring drills and nails being hammered into wood planks, squeals of excitement and oohs and ahhs emanated from Yerington Elementary School students as they filed past the hoop house being built on their way to the lunchroom.

March is National Nutrition Month, so it only seems fitting that three rural elementary schools in Nevada had hoop houses installed in late February and early March as part of a partnership among USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and Urban Roots Americorps. Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Lindsey Lusher Shute

Lindsey and Ben Shute and their two daughters on the family’s 70 acre vegetable farm. Photo Credit: Joshua Simpson Photography.

Lindsey and Ben Shute and their two daughters on the family’s 70 acre vegetable farm. Photo Credit: Joshua Simpson Photography.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting a different leading woman in agriculture each week.  This week, we profile Lindsey Lusher Shute, founder and Executive Director of the National Young Farmers Coalition.

Lindsey is dedicated to advocating for beginning farmers and helping them overcome hurdles as they start their own farm businesses. In addition to leading the National Young Farmers Coalition, Lindsey and her husband, Ben, are raising two daughters while managing Hearty Roots Community Farm in New York’s Hudson Valley. Lindsey was also selected as a White House Champion of Change and participated in the White House women’s dialogue this past fall.

Lindsey talked about how she juggles her kids, her reading list and her farm; and how she sees women leading the charge among the upcoming generation of farmers. Read more »

New Film to be Shown at USDA: Restoring the South’s Brook Trout–Raise a Glass of Water to the Return of a Regional Icon

Southern Appalachian Brook Trout spawn in the Fall when brightly colored males court females, who dig nests known as redds in clean streambed gravels. (Copyright photo courtesy Freshwaters Illustrated/Dave Herasimtschuk)

Southern Appalachian Brook Trout spawn in the Fall when brightly colored males court females, who dig nests known as redds in clean streambed gravels. (Copyright photo courtesy Freshwaters Illustrated/Dave Herasimtschuk)

For a community of brook trout in the southern Appalachian mountains, there are signs that the good times are coming back. To some, these native inhabitants might even appear to be waving a welcome home sign.

Their numbers almost vanquished, they are as much a cultural emblem of these rugged and lush mountain forests as they are an important signal for the highest quality drinking water. This is what makes their fate of such interest to the millions who live in the surrounding watersheds and to those involved in an inspiring partnership to help them along. They are also the subject of a new film, “Bringing Back the Brooks: Reviving the South’s Trout” produced by Freshwaters Illustrated in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. Read more »

Career, Adventure Await Candidates for New APHIS Foreign Service Training Program

Conrad Estrada (third from left) with students from “Jóvenes en Acción” – Youth in Action. This program provides Mexican high school students the opportunity to experience the United States and develop their leadership skills.

Conrad Estrada (third from left) with students from “Jóvenes en Acción” – Youth in Action. This program provides Mexican high school students the opportunity to experience the United States and develop their leadership skills.

When Dr. Conrad Estrada became an APHIS Foreign Service Officer (FSO), his goal was to get out of his comfort zone, “not only in the geographic sense, but also on a personal and professional level.”

Six years later, the veterinarian admits he got both wishes. Trained in Peru, Estrada earned his master’s degree in preventive veterinary medicine at the University of California-Davis before joining the APHIS Foreign Service in 2009.  He is now the APHIS Foreign Service (FS) area director in Brasilia, Brazil, a job that “has offered me a great opportunity to expand my horizons, as well as increase my understanding of an integrated agricultural global market.” Read more »

Family Farms Remain the Cornerstone of U.S. Agriculture

Small Family Farms as Percent of Total Farms, by State, 2012. NASS infographic.

Small Family Farms as Percent of Total Farms, by State, 2012. NASS infographic.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

As you can imagine, Census of Agriculture is a virtual data gold mine for an agricultural demographer. And as we celebrate U.S. agriculture this week, with the help of the Census data we can focus on the key element of our nation’s agriculture – family farms.

Of the 2.1 million farms in the United States in 2012, 97 percent were family-owned operations. Eighty-eight percent of all farms were small family farms. This group included farms such as retirement farms, farms with operators working part-time off-farm, as well as farms with less than $350,000 in gross cash farm income. Read more »