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 profile.
Organic agriculture is proving itself to be a veritable cornucopia, according to the results of the first-ever report on certified USDA organic production, which we released earlier this month. While the number of organic farms is a fraction of its conventional counterpart, an organically produced version of virtually every crop or animal product is now available in the United States.
This was the first time the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducted this survey, which means that we cannot see trends yet, but we can already easily see some of the impacts of organic production in the United States. From four farms in Alabama, Alaska or Delaware to 1,898 farms in California, every state in the nation is now home to USDA-certified organic producers. And while these farmers make up less than a half of one percent of all U.S. farmers, they already sell more than $3.5 billion worth of agricultural products. Read more »
As the drought continues, USDA and other Federal agencies are doing all we can to help farmers, ranchers and communities. Unfortunately, USDA’s tools are limited today. Due to inaction by Congress, many programs authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill expired on October 1. Other aspects of the law will continue to expire in the coming months.
This brings tremendous uncertainty for rural families – particularly livestock producers who have lost access to disaster programs, and dairy producers who no longer have access to dairy support programs.
As we encourage Congress to pass a multi-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible, USDA continues our work to strengthen the rural economy. This includes continuing our record efforts to expand access to broadband internet in rural areas. Read more »
USDA Rural Development Michigan State Director James Turner joined Senator Debbie Stabenow and local officials this summer in celebrating the opening of the largest commercial-scale anaerobic digester in the United States.
The Fremont Community Digester is an ambitious new use of a proven technology. Once used chiefly in farms, anaerobic digesters are now coming into their own.
The facility will convert organic waste products – such as farm and food waste – and process it into biogas. Approximately 1,500 local families will derive their power from this previously untapped energy source. Read more »
The National Forests in Florida hosted Native American teenagers from the Florida Indian Youth Program on the Apalachicola National Forest. The program, sponsored by the Florida Governor’s Council on Indian Affairs focuses on job skills, academic skills, life-skills, social and cultural activities.
Their eyes wide open and their minds prepped to learn, a group of Native American youths from Florida recently glimpsed the skills and knowledge needed for Forest Service careers during a field trip to the Apalachicola National Forest.
Forest professionals from civil engineering, landscape architecture, archaeology and recreation escorted teenagers from the Florida Indian Youth Program during their visit. The teens got the stories behind several hiking, biking and fishing day-use areas on the forest. The goal was to give the teens insight in the process of creating user-friendly recreation sites. From idea, to planning, to execution, the employees presented the stages involved in site development. Read more »
Althea Raiford retired from the Navy in 2010 and works in Maryland as a police officer. But every month she sends money home to Georgia to buy hogs, chickens and feed, some of which have been purchased at a discount through a network of veterans.
“We [veterans] are a family,” said Raiford, who was able to connect with other veteran farmers to receive 20 chickens for free and purchase two hogs for $30 each to jumpstart an operation that she and her brother started in Georgia four years ago. “We take care of our family and we take care of it the best way we know how.”
Raiford was one of nearly 40 veterans who traveled to Kearneysville, W.Va., on Oct. 10 to attend a symposium co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that provides veterans who have an interest in agriculture with financial and business planning information. Read more »
It’s shaping up to be a good year for students in Indian Country.
For the first time in school history, students at Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College in Mount Pleasant, Michigan can register to take physics thanks to an upgraded laboratory. And at Leech Lake Tribal College in Cass Lake, Minnesota, students were able to take trigonometry for the first time last year. Funded and supported by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA ), both schools made improvements to bolster their students’ learning in the areas of science and mathematics.
NIFA’s Tribal Colleges Education Equity Grant is a noncompetitive program that enhances educational opportunities for American Indians in the food and agricultural sciences. These grants strengthen formal educational opportunities at the associate, baccalaureate, or graduate level at 1994 land-grant institutions, also known as tribal colleges. Read more »