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Biomass Crop Assistance Program to Spur Renewable Energy Development, Job Creation, in Four States

This photo shows giant miscanthus (measuring seven feet tall). Photo courtesy of NRCS

This photo shows giant miscanthus (measuring seven feet tall). Photo courtesy of NRCS

Four more states will be added to the list of project areas under a Farm Service Agency program that encourages producers to establish dedicated energy crops to be used for production of biofuels. Today’s announcement is expected to spark the creation of thousands of new jobs in future production years. Read more »

Farm of the Future: Five Landowners Produce Crops, Livestock, and Ecosystem Services

The new Farm of the Future project profiles working farms, forests, and ranches that are participating in environmental markets or receiving payments for ecosystem services. In the five case studies just released, landowners changed their management practices to provide water quality, wetlands, wildlife habitat, and carbon benefits—generating new revenue from the sale of ecosystem services to supplement traditional income. Read more »

New Report Highlights Innovative Payments for Watershed Services

A new report titled Innovations in Watershed-Based Conservation in the United States: Payments for Watershed Services for Agricultural and Forest Landowners was just released by EcoAgriculture Partners with funding and support from USDA’s Office of Environmental Markets (OEM) and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities. The report surveys payments for watershed services (PWS) schemes to understand their current role in the U.S. and future potential for increasing cost-effective watershed protection on private lands.

Water is crucial for many human needs; yet water resources in the United States face serious threats from increasing pollution and overuse.  PWS can address these challenges effectively as a complement to USDA conservation programs and other existing incentives. Read more »

Hurricane Season is Here: Is Your Refrigerator Ready?

The 2011 Hurricane Season officially began June 1. If you live in a coastal area, it’s important to be prepared, particularly when it comes to safe food and water.

The best strategy for you and your family is to always have a plan in place that everyone knows and that includes these food and water safety precautions. Read more »

Reminder: Nomination Period for FSA County Committees Opens June 15

The Farm Service Agency will begin accepting nominations for local county committees beginning Wednesday, June 15. The nomination period — which runs through Aug. 1 — allows farmers and ranchers to nominate themselves or others as candidates to sit on the local county committee and help make important agricultural decisions.

Secretary Vilsack is urging all farmers and ranchers, especially minority and women producers, to take part in this year’s county committee elections by nominating candidates by the August 1 deadline. County committees are an important link between the farm community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and give landowners, farmers and ranchers a better chance of having their opinions and ideas heard. If county committees are to reflect the diversity of the communities they serve, minority and women farmers must take time to get involved by nominating themselves or a candidate they feel will represent their interests. Read more »

Black Hills of South Dakota Hosts Second White House Business Roundtable

Officials from USDA met with business leaders in Rapid City, South Dakota to seek their input on ways federal, state and local officials can help improve economic conditions and create jobs.  The session was the second White House Business Council meeting held; the first was held in Missouri.  The meeting was hosted by Kristi Wagner, Program Developer with South Dakota Rural Enterprise, Inc. and facilitated by Jonathan Adelstein, Administrator of USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service, and a member of the White House Business Council on Winning the Future.

Adelstein said, “We heard really a lot of good advice from business leaders that are skilled in creating jobs in South Dakota. They’re sometimes frustrated with the government, they’re sometimes very happy about ways the government has helped them to succeed. And we’re trying to learn from the good things, we’re trying to streamline and get the bureaucracy out of the way and make sure regulation doesn’t inhibit job growth.”  Adelstein says White House officials will leave Washington and reach out to the business leaders in every state by the middle of June. Read more »