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Forestry practice leads to a surprising discovery

Chestnuts have burrs, like this one, that make them impervious to predators; the spines can go through heavy leather gloves. Predators generally leave the nuts alone until the burrs open, revealing the nut within.

Chestnuts have burrs, like this one, that make them impervious to predators; the spines can go through heavy leather gloves. Predators generally leave the nuts alone until the burrs open, revealing the nut within.

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 portfolio

When Jack Lochhead looked into a federal government program to help him manage his 250 acres of forest land in rural Conway, Massachusetts, he had no idea that it would lead to a surprising discovery deep in the forest.

Through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, Lochhead sought technical and financial help to manage his land. NRCS staff suggested an oak regeneration project which calls for land around existing oak trees to be thinned to allow new oak seedlings to take hold. Read more »

Kansas City Board of Trade Offers Examples for African Ministers

The African ministers of commerce, trade, and agriculture on the trading floor of the Kansas City Board of Trade.

The African ministers of commerce, trade, and agriculture on the trading floor of the Kansas City Board of Trade.

One of the most interesting aspects of my job is meeting interesting people from all parts of the world. Last week I only had to travel as far as Kansas City to meet nearly two dozen African ministers of trade, commerce, and agriculture for a visit to the Kansas City Board of Trade as part of the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum.

As agriculture plays a key role in African development, governments have a crucial role to play in ensuring a favorable market climate for their farmers and agricultural products. The ministers learned about the Board of Trade’s day-to-day exchange operations, where hard red winter wheat is bought and sold in the futures market. We took a tour of the trading floor to see traders in action and also met with researchers at some of America’s premier land grant universities to learn how they provide farmers and USDA with valuable research and new technologies. Read more »

The Countdown to USDA’s August Crop Production Report

NASS surveyors measure corn plants on an Illinois farm to ensure an accurate crop production forecast.

NASS surveyors measure corn plants on an Illinois farm to ensure an accurate crop production forecast.

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 portfolio.

Has the weather and grain prices been on your mind lately? With the release of the August Crop Production report just days away, I know it’s been on my mind. While we’ve had record-breaking heat here in the nation’s capital, everyone’s eyes are on farm country waiting to see how the unpredictable summer weather is impacting the 2010 growing season. Read more »

African Ministers and Companies Come to Kansas City to Do Business

African ministers and entrepreneurs listen to translation as Under Secretary Jim Miller speaks about investing in the agricultural value chain.

African ministers and entrepreneurs listen to translation as Under Secretary Jim Miller speaks about investing in the agricultural value chain.

Last week I was in Kansas City to participate in the 9th African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum. AGOA seeks to strengthen the trade relationship between the United States and Africa by reducing tariffs on thousands of African products and providing technical assistance to boost African exports while stimulating economic growth and investment.  Each year, the AGOA forum alternates between Washington, D.C. and an African country host.  To celebrate AGOA’s tenth year, we decided to do something new, hosting the first half of the forum in Washington, DC and the second portion in Kansas City. Read more »

Recovery Act Broadband Award Helps a Kansas Family Owned Rural Telephone Company and Provides Broadband to Rural Residents

Robert Koch, President and General Manager of H&B Communications in Holyrood, Kansas, stands in front of a mural highlighting milestones in his family's telecommunications business.

Robert Koch, President and General Manager of H&B Communications in Holyrood, Kansas, stands in front of a mural highlighting milestones in his family's telecommunications business.

Robert Koch, President and General Manager of H&B Communications in Holyrood, Kansas, displays the story of his family owned rural telephone company on the wall behind his desk.  The mural, painted by an area artist, highlights the advancement in telecommunications since the company was founded in the 1950’s by Robert’s grandparents.  The historical image also features two of the three generations of family ownership including his mother and grandmother who served as telephone operators in the early decades of the company. Read more »

Recovery Act Launches a Shooting Star, Funds for New Farmers Paying Dividends

 

Matt McCue and Lily Schneider of Shooting Star CSA survived the process of becoming a California Certified Organic Farm.  They use no chemicals or pesticides, and rely on practices that reduce impact on the environment.

Matt McCue and Lily Schneider of Shooting Star CSA survived the process of becoming a California Certified Organic Farm. They use no chemicals or pesticides, and rely on practices that reduce impact on the environment.

 The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) made many significant investments in small private enterprises in rural America. Shooting Star is a farm in Northern California where that investment is paying dividends.

Funds from ARRA, better known as the Recovery Act, made it possible for Matt McCue and Lily Schneider to launch their new farming venture in verdant Suisun Valley. They took the name Shooting Star from a colorful flower growing on nearby hillsides. This young couple, both in their mid-20s, started their organic operation with the help of two Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans, one funded by the Recovery Act. And they are grateful. Read more »