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Forest Service Research Helping Grasslands, Shrublands Endure Changing Climate

Blackbrush, a species in the Mojave and Great Basin deserts, has adjusted well to climate change, according to genetics research by Forest Service scientists.

Blackbrush, a species in the Mojave and Great Basin deserts, has adjusted well to climate change, according to genetics research by Forest Service scientists.

Climate change’s threat to forests – specifically to trees – has garnered much attention among people concerned with protecting our environment.  Yet, a lack of research on the effects of climate change on grasslands and shrublands is leaving land managers with little information to make decisions on sustaining these vital landscapes so important for recreation, tribal life, crop and livestock production, and native plant and wildlife conservation.

Forest Service researchers point to recent climatic studies in predicting that by the end of the century, 55 percent of future landscapes in the West will likely have climates that are in­compatible with the vegetation types that now occur on those landscapes. Read more »

Maryland Landowner Creates Wildlife Haven & Keeps Property in the Family

District Conservationist Nelson Brice and Kirby Wells discuss restoration plans for the 1,700 acre easement.

District Conservationist Nelson Brice and Kirby Wells discuss restoration plans for the 1,700 acre easement.

Kirby Wells knew that if he wanted future generations of Wellses to enjoy the family’s land on Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore, something had to change.

The 1,700 acres Wells’ grandfather had purchased in 1941, then drained and planted with loblolly pines was rapidly losing value. In 2006, the family’s sawmill business closed due to the decline of the housing market, and the pressure to sell to developers was on. Read more »

Increasing Opportunities and Expanding Possibilities through the Farmers Market Promotion Program

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan (center, white jacket) buys produce at the Baltimore farmers market in Baltimore, MD., on July 8, 2012. The mid-Atlantic region saw double-digit growth in its listings in the National Farmers Market Directory.  Maryland added 76 new market listings alone. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan (center, white jacket) buys produce at the Baltimore farmers market in Baltimore, MD. By supporting farmers markets and other businesses, Farmers Market Promotion Program funds have helped open new doors for farmers and ranchers all across the country.

Last Friday, I was honored to announce $9 million in new grants through USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP). The program targets producers, cooperatives and organizations that market products directly to consumers – just one of the many marketing approaches that make American agriculture so successful. Read more »

The Clues Blowing in the Wind

Soil microbes can be used to trace dust to its source. Soil microbiologist Ann Kennedy checks a computer map that shows the location of various biological groupings across the Columbia Plateau in Washington State.

Soil microbes can be used to trace dust to its source. Soil microbiologist Ann Kennedy checks a computer map that shows the location of various biological groupings across the Columbia Plateau in Washington State.

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 the USDA’s rich science and research profile.

Even back in the days of Mark Twain’s riveting tales of steamboat pilots and derring-do on the Mississippi River, it was known that you could catch a crook by means of almost invisible clues left at the scene of the crime:  the unique patterns of his fingertips.  How do we know this? In Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi,” published in 1883, a murderer was identified by his fingerprints. Read more »

FAS Helps Pack Protein Punch Across the Pacific

A Chinese delegation observes methods used to prepare noodles with dry bean flour during a reverse trade mission site visit to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Beijing recently partnered with the U.S. dry edible bean industry to launch a program that aims to pack more protein into Chinese diets. (Courtesy University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

A Chinese delegation observes methods used to prepare noodles with dry bean flour during a reverse trade mission site visit to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Beijing recently partnered with the U.S. dry edible bean industry to launch a program that aims to pack more protein into Chinese diets. (Courtesy University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

The Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Beijing recently partnered with the U.S. dry edible bean industry to launch a program that aims to pack more protein into Chinese diets.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA), along with the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission (NDBC), joined the FAS Beijing ATO to begin a program to promote the use of U.S. dry beans within China. NDA and NDBC funded research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to show how dry beans can be used in various ways. For example, dry beans may be ground into flour and added to pastry flour to increase the nutritional value of noodles, which are a staple in the Chinese diet. Traditionally, China has used dry beans for bean paste or soup but little else. Read more »

USDA’s Record Conservation Accomplishments

As drought continues across America today, President Obama and I are committed to taking every possible step to help farmers and ranchers, businesses, and communities recover when disaster strikes.

Meanwhile, it is disappointing to many in rural America that Congress has not taken action on a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that would give rural families more certainty in a tough time.  I continue to remind folks in Washington that we need a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible to keep rural America growing in the years to come.

Especially in a time of drought, we’re reminded of the great importance that conservation of our natural resources plays in the lives of all Americans – and today USDA continues its record efforts to conserve, restore, and protect America’s land and water.

Since 2009 USDA has partnered with more than half a million private landowners to enroll a record number of acres in conservation programs.  We’ve accelerated protection of critical wetlands, enrolling more than 800,000 acres in programs to enhance water availability. Read more »