President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa, on Monday, August 13, 2012 to view the drought stricken crops. The federal government has already taken some steps to ease farmers whose crops are growing poorly this summer, and the administration plans to spend close to $200 million on livestock, officials announced earlier in the day. The Department of Defense is encouraging vendors to buy meat to ease the crisis. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.
USDA and other federal agencies continue to work to address the long term effects of last summer’s historic drought.
In the wake of a series of regional drought conferences with farmers, ranchers, business owners and other stakeholders, USDA is entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Commerce, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to improve sharing of data and expertise, monitoring networks, and drought forecasting efforts. The MOU is a direct outcome of the regional conferences. Read more »
Farmer Doug Goyings examines the drought-damaged corn on his farm in Paulding County, OH on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. USDA photo by Christina Reed.
The 2012 drought dried up more than just crops. For many U.S. farmers, it also dried up savings, material resources, and perhaps saddest of all, hope.
“The drought of course impacted our crop yields tremendously,” said veteran Ohio dairy farmer Leon Weaver. “Corn yields were about 50 percent of normal. Dairymen are exiting this business in droves.”
But for Weaver and nearly one hundred other Ohio, Michigan and Indiana farmers who gathered recently in rural Henry County, Ohio, hope was a commodity worth trading as they shared, in roundtable fashion, their ideas on how to access resources and rise from the dust. Read more »
Thomas Guevara, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs at the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration, joined Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture V.O. “Butch” Calhoun, along with USDA and other federal, state and local officials on October 17th for a regional workshop to outline resources available to assist with drought recovery efforts. The meeting was held at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff campus.
Over 150 participants, including stakeholders, discussed the drought’s effects on water quality and quantity, forestry, community and economic impacts, and agriculture and agribusiness. Currently, more than two-thirds of the country is affected by the drought. Participants in the meeting offered thoughts on developing a new framework for cooperation among local, state and federal partners when it comes to drought recovery, and shared ideas about how to establish long-term relationships at all levels in these communities. Collaboration, coordination and communication were the themes during the meeting. Read more »
Deputy Thomas Guevara, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs at the Economic Development Administration (left); Colorado Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar (right), and Colleen Callahan of USDA prepare for the morning session at the drought conference. USDA photo.
Over 100 attendees joined Thomas Guevara, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs at the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration and Colorado Agricultural Commissioner John Salazar at the second of four regional workshops to outline resources available to assist with drought recovery efforts. The Colorado regional workshop was held at the state fairgrounds in Pueblo earlier this week. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with tribes, local, state and federal partners to hold the workshops. Federal partners include the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
With over two-thirds of the country in drought, recovery efforts are underway and a new framework for delivery is being developed. Collaboration, coordination and communication were the prevalent themes at the Colorado workshop. These efforts will be needed at all levels of government and our ability to work together is crucial. Read more »
These cabbages would be the pride of any gardener, but in this case the gardeners are eighty 2nd and 4th grade students from Junction City Elementary in Junction City, Arkansas. They are among the 4,000 students in 54 schools across the country participating in Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth (HGHY) – a project of USDA’s People’s Garden School Pilot Project.
With its southern climate, the schools in Arkansas got a head start on building their gardens and planting crops. On this day, Arkansas HGHY Principal Investigator Laura Connerly and project leads Janet Carson and Julie Treat of the University of Arkansas, along with HGHY Project Director Brad Gaolach and Martha Aitken from Washington State University, watched the students enthusiastically harvest cabbage, beets, basil, and green beans – pounds and pounds of them.
Directing the harvest was University of Arkansas Extension horticulture agent, Robin Bridges, and 4-H Program Assistant, Cynthia Ford, who have taken the Junction City students step by step through building, planning, planting and now, harvesting their garden. HGHY has enjoyed the full participation of the Junction City Elementary staff from Principal Rebekah West, to the four classroom teachers – Jan Wilson, Dee McKinnon, Connie Hammett and Patricia Murray – to the cafeteria and custodial teams, providing a rich environment for the students to learn about healthy eating. Read more »
Giant miscanthus in early stages of growth. The sterile grass plant will grow to heights of 8-12 feet. When harvested, giant miscanthus can be compacted into pellets for a durable, safe and environmentally friendly renewable energy source.
There’s a lot that a farmer can grow in northeast Arkansas. Most producers choose rice and cotton. Some plant soybeans, corn and sorghum; row crops, mostly, according to Charles Glover, manager, Ritter Agribusiness.
Glover works with landowners, their tenants and producers who farm 40,000 acres between Jonesboro, Ark., and Memphis, Tenn., much of it in Poinsett County. Read more »