USDA Deputy Undersecretary Ann Mills (ninth from left) visits with Leopold Conservation Award winners at USDA last week. USDA photo.
“Water conservation begins where the first drop of rain falls…most likely on private working lands.” This is a favorite saying of Tom Vandivier, a Texas cattle rancher and 2008 recipient of the Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award (LCA).
Tom was one of more than two dozen recipients of the LCA – which recognized landowners for achievement in environmental improvement on agricultural land – in Washington, D.C. last week. I was fortunate to meet with them here at USDA headquarters to talk about the importance of conservation and the need to spread the message that investing in conservation practices on our farm and ranch lands not only protects water, air and wildlife – it also makes economic sense. Read more »
Ken Mouw created a shelterbelt 10 years ago on his Elk Point, S.D. as a way to fortify his farm against the harsh winter winds.
South Dakota’s harsh winters can be tough on a farm or ranch, and conservation improvements like a shelterbelt can help shield buildings, crops and livestock from the wind and snow. Ken Mouw, a CEO-turned-farmer, has used a shelterbelt—a band of trees and shrubs—to protect his Elk Point, S.D. farm against rough weather over the past 10 years.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Union County Conservation District helped Mouw design the shelterbelt, consisting of trees and shrubs of different heights and densities that all work together to protect from the northern and western winds, keeping snow from collecting in his driveway during a snow storm. Read more »
Shade-grown coffee helps protect water quality and coral reefs like this one in Puerto Rico. NOAA photo.
I work for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency that helps farmers voluntarily implement conservation practices on their lands across the U.S.—including land on my home, Puerto Rico.
I am extremely proud of recent NRCS efforts here to help farmers, ranchers and landowners make significant strides in conserving the Guánica Bay/Rio Loco watershed. This watershed, which is about 100 miles southwest of San Juan, is one of the most diverse and complex in Puerto Rico. Read more »
The Chesapeake Bay Watershed extends across 64,000 square miles. (Graphic courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Program)
Urban and community forests, agroforestry, fish and wildlife habitat, mining areas and contaminated lands are the targets of a restoration strategy aimed to help the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the U.S.
The final Chesapeake Restoration Strategy, a multi-agency effort released this month by the Forest Service, relies heavily on collaboration among partners in federal, state and local governments, watershed and community organizations and private partners. Read more »
2012 Specialty Crop Block Grant will help expand existing efforts by the Fallon Small Farm Collaborative for create new market opportunities for Churchill County farmers, like the ones pictured above. Photo courtesy Fallon Farmers’ Collaborative
Earlier today, Secretary Vilsack announced the Specialty Crop Block Grant awards totaling $55 million dollars. These grants will fund over 748 initiatives across the United States and its territories, and help expand opportunities for local and regional farmers.
Specialty crops produced in the U.S. include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, and are often a key source of income for America’s farmers. Through this program, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service grants money to the state and territory for them to directly support projects creating new business opportunities, boosting efficiency and productivity, and improving food safety.
Read more »
Grass and cotton fields in the Texas High Plains study. Credit: Vivien Allen (Texas Tech University).
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.
Words like eco-friendly, green, fair, climate-friendly, community-based and organic are popping up daily – in the news, in ads and labels, and in conversations ranging from kitchen tables to international conferences. All of these and more come under the umbrella of sustainability, which people often describe as caring for people, planet and proceeds all at the same time. Read more »