As a warm winter drew to a close with the warmest March on record, many farmers around the country were already in the fields and others are itching to get crops in the ground.
Each planting season begins with such promise. This one is no different. But agriculture is unpredictable. And in the months ahead, some of our nation’s producers will contend with droughts, floods, tornados, storms and other natural disasters before they can harvest their crops and bring them to market. Read more »
Cross posted from the White House blog:
Since taking office, President Obama has been committed to an all-of-the-above approach that expands production of American energy resources. Already, there are signs that this strategy is making an impact. Last year, domestic oil production reached the highest level in nearly a decade. Imports of foreign oil fell to the lowest level in 16 years. We’re producing more natural gas than at any time in our history. Since 2008, renewable energy generation from sources like wind, solar, and geothermal has nearly doubled. And the Obama Administration has supported the first nuclear power plant in thirty years.
Strengthening the domestic biofuels industry has been another critical component of this overall strategy. And today, U.S. biofuel production is at its highest level in history. In fact, average monthly production increased more than 40 percent between 2008 and 2011. That means more jobs – especially in rural America – and greater energy security. Read more »
Front row: Mary Honke, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Dr. Greg Smith, President of Central Community College. Back row from left to right are: Dr. Jack Huck, President of Southeast Community College; Ryan Purdy, Interim President of Mid-Plains Community College; Dr. Todd Holcomb, President of Western Community College; State Director Maxine Moul; and Dennis Baack, Executive Director of the Nebraska Community College Association.
Local colleges and USDA Rural Development are combining resources to improve the availability of higher education in rural areas. This increased emphasis on continuing education will bring a stronger work force to Nebraska. Read more »
About midway through USDA’s 150-year history, federal officials decided that economic research and analysis could be a valuable, objective tool in helping farmers – and policymakers – grapple with farm price and income issues. In 1922, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (BAE) – predecessor agency of USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) – came into existence. The Bureau began regularly producing agricultural market outlook reports (still an ERS staple), and – not surprisingly – its early work included analysis of agricultural policy impacts during the Great Depression.
Employees of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (circa 1930), predecessor agency of the Economic Research Service.
Although the BAE’s functions were dispersed throughout the Department in the 1950s, they were assembled again into a single agency, the Economic Research Service, in 1961. I’ll touch on just a few highlights of ERS activities that illustrate the value of our agency’s work over the past century. Read more »
Remember the devastating floods in Vermont – the worst in a century – that made national headlines late last August? Hurricane Irene pounded Vermont and the Green Mountain National Forest and New Hampshire and the White Mountain National Forest with up to 12 inches of rain in less than a day. Many communities were left reeling from the massive flood damage for weeks and months in post-storm recovery efforts.
More than 500 road miles and 200 bridges and culverts were destroyed or damaged. Communities were left stranded by the flood’s devastation of the transportation infrastructure. Millions of dollars of property damage occurred. Residents also suffered increased costs related to emergency service access, commuting time and lost tourism revenue. Aquatic life was also harmed when heavy machinery cleared “debris” and reshaped rivers. Read more »
Since 2009, USDA Rural Development has helped 512 rural small businesses and farmers install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
Senator Al Franken and Minn. Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer participate in a roundtable meeting on the USDA Rural Energy For America Program.
On Tuesday, April 10, about 40 of those farmers and small business owners gathered in Mankato, Minn., to discuss the REAP program during a roundtable featuring Senator Al Franken and USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer. Read more »