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Recovery Act Creating Jobs in Kentucky

The renovated Fox Creek flood control dam in Kentucky.

The renovated Fox Creek flood control dam in Kentucky.

We’re seeing how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the Recovery Act) creates jobs right here in Kentucky. The Fox Creek flood control dam in Kentucky, is a great example.

The Recovery Act was created by the Obama Administration to boost the nation’s economy, in part by developing and improving infrastructure like flood controls. (Floodplains and other wetlands are natural flood controls; dams are man-made flood controls.) Read more »

US Drought and Your Food Costs

This info graphic demonstrate how the current drought, or any event that affects prices for raw farm commodities, ultimately has a marginal effect on what we pay at the grocery or restaurant. The info graphic is based on data from the USDA Economic Research Service's analysis of retail food prices and the food dollar, or all the factors that affect what we pay for food.

This info graphic demonstrate how the current drought, or any event that affects prices for raw farm commodities, ultimately has a marginal effect on what we pay at the grocery or restaurant. The info graphic is based on data from the USDA Economic Research Service's analysis of retail food prices and the food dollar, or all the factors that affect what we pay for food. (Click to enlarge)

In relation to the current drought, many people ask: What does this mean for food prices? Here we try to provide a response and the necessary context on food price inflation. The info graphic is based on data from the USDA Economic Research Service’s analysis of retail food prices and the food dollar, or all the factors that affect what we pay for food. The graphic helps to demonstrate how the current drought, or any event that affects prices for raw farm commodities, ultimately has a marginal effect on what we pay at the grocery or restaurant. Primarily, the graphic demonstrates two important pieces of information:

1. In the bar chart, food price inflation is expected to be close to the historical average this year and just slightly above that next year. As you can see, recent spikes from 2008 and 2011, especially, outpace current forecasts.

2. In the grocery cart model, you see that raw farm commodity prices (the price of things like a bushel of corn or soybeans) are just one of many factors affecting retail food prices. In fact, commodities make up about 14% of the average retail food purchase, so even if all commodity prices doubled, retail food prices would increase by about 14%. Together, factors such as energy and transportation costs, labor costs, processing and marketing costs all play a much more significant role.

On July 25th, ERS forecast that we will likely see impacts on retail food prices within two months for beef, pork, poultry and dairy. Yet the full effects of the increase in corn prices for packaged and processed foods (cereal, corn flour, etc.) will likely take 10-12 months to move through to retail food prices, and should have little to no effect until that time.

For additional information, see USDA ERS resources: A Revised and Expanded Food Dollar Series A Better Understanding of Our Food Costs (PDF) and Food Price Outlook web page.

From Special Training Program to Full-Time Forester in Mississippi

Christina Parker engages in a pine stand inventory on the Bienville Ranger District which is home to scarce communities of red-cockaded woodpeckers (Monday, July 30, 2012). Her data is used to develop the necessary forest prescriptions to treat stand structures to meet the forest’s land management objectives including activities such as timber sales or herbicide treatments. (AP Photo/Christopher Locke)

Christina Harper engages in a pine stand inventory on the Bienville Ranger District which is home to scarce communities of red-cockaded woodpeckers (Monday, July 30, 2012). Her data is used to develop the necessary forest prescriptions to treat stand structures to meet the forest’s land management objectives including activities such as timber sales or herbicide treatments.

Christina Harper, a new forester on the Bienville National Forest in Mississippi, has travelled a busy road from a special student training program to a full-time U.S. Forest Service employee.

Harper graduated from the Student Career Experience Program, which provides work experience directly related to students’ academic programs or career goals. The program exposes students to public service while enhancing their educational goals. Read more »

South Carolina Restaurant Owner Finds Peace in the Forest

Left to right: Landowner Dennis Hiltner, NRCS Soil Conservation Technician Jackie Heuermann and District Conservationist Bruce Andrews review the conservation plan for the Hiltner property.

Left to right: Landowner Dennis Hiltner, NRCS Soil Conservation Technician Jackie Heuermann and District Conservationist Bruce Andrews review the conservation plan for the Hiltner property.

Dennis Hiltner truly leads a “farm-to-table” existence.

Some days, you will find Hiltner alongside his wife and business partner, Linda, in Columbia, S.C.’s Five Points neighborhood, managing their business, The Gourmet Shop. (The Hiltners opened the Columbia landmark, which is part wine shop, food and kitchenware store, and café, in 1979.) Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 8/9/12

U.S corn areas located in drought.

U.S corn areas located in drought. (Click to enlarge)

Visit www.usda.gov/drought for the latest information regarding USDA’s Drought Disaster response and assistance.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor, valid August 7, indicates that the percentage of corn and soybeans in drought remains relatively stable.  However, corn and soybeans in the most two serious drought categories (D3 to D4, or extreme to exceptional drought) continue to rise sharply.  Approximately 87% of the U.S. corn is within an area experiencing drought, down from a peak of 89% on July 24.  Similarly, 85% of the U.S. soybeans are in a drought area, down from a high of 88% on July 24.  During the three-week period ending August 7, corn in extreme to exceptional drought nearly quadrupled, from 14 to 53%, while soybeans in the two worst drought categories (D3 or D4) more than tripled from 16 to 50%. Read more »

It Takes a County … to Help Feed Families!

In small rural communities like Cedar County, Iowa it takes many people wearing different hats to coordinate a successful food drive effort. This group gleaned for the Bread of Life Food Pantry to help support USDA’s Feds Feed Families campaign.

In small rural communities like Cedar County, Iowa it takes many people wearing different hats to coordinate a successful food drive effort. This group gleaned for the Bread of Life Food Pantry to help support USDA’s Feds Feed Families campaign.

USDA employees at the Tipton Service Center in Iowa are making impressive contributions to this year’s Feds Feed Families campaign. USDA Rural Development employee Mike Boyle reported food donations exceeding 750 pounds for the month of June and 1,760 pounds in July – just a portion of what is expected to be distributed throughout Tipton and surrounding eastern Iowa communities as part of the food drive this summer. Read more »