NRCS Supervisory District Conservationist Priscilla Williamson (left) worked with Charles McLaurin (right) to remove invasive grasses and install cross fencing, improving water quality downstream. NRCS photo.
Raising hay and working the farm was once something extra for Charles McLaurin. After retiring after 35 years as a school teacher, he’s enjoying his new full-time job as a cattle rancher in Leake County, Miss., where he not only leads a healthy head of cattle but also serves as a steward of natural resources.
With the help of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), he is using conservation to improve his operations and help the environment, including the Pearl River and Gulf of Mexico, where the water from his farm eventually flows.
McLaurin qualified for financial assistance through StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative as a beginning and limited resource rancher. The initiative addresses high-priority funding needs in rural communities in 16 states, including Mississippi. Read more »
On an island off the northeastern tip of Long Island, N.Y., U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are doing their part to safeguard the U.S. food supply.
At the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, a USDA research team works to ensure that we’re prepared to protect ourselves against exotic animal diseases that threaten livestock production in the United States and around the world. The center, now operated by the Department of Homeland Security, offers a safe and secure site for developing vaccines, diagnostic tests and other technology to help prevent animal disease outbreaks, and to respond to outbreaks that might occur.
USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at Plum Island investigate infectious diseases such as classical swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). Recently, they renewed efforts to help combat African swine fever, a deadly pig disease that’s invading other countries. Read more »
Russell Wire, a northwest Illinois farmer, found cover crops to be an excellent option for his operation. His cattle enjoy grazing quality forage, and his soil health is improving as well.
At age 8, Russell Wire knew he liked agriculture. That was when he raised some beef cattle for a 4-H project, eventually turning that project into a herd of 40.
This natural affinity makes sense—Wire, who lives in northwest Illinois, comes from a farm family. The 28-year-old is actually a fifth-generation farmer.
Since 2005, Wire has worked 40 acres of pastureland, and he’s grown corn on another 50 acres since 2011. Recently he decided to incorporate cover crops into his operation to provide more forage for his herd, prevent erosion and improve soil health. Read more »
A healthy alfalfa field in the Santo Domingo Pueblo as a result of improved soil health and a new irrigation system.
Just off the Rio Grande River, between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M., sits Santo Domingo Pueblo, a community surrounded by fields of alfalfa, oats and Sudan grass for horses and cattle, and small gardens filled with corn and green chili peppers.
But this green idyll is in danger of drying out. Over the past few years, New Mexico has been struggling through one of the worst droughts in recorded history. Little rain and a dwindling river have threatened many of the Pueblo’s fields and gardens. Read more »
Emma and Percy Brown of Vicksburg, Miss., are beginning farmers whose lives have benefited from funding through the USDA StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative.
For over a year, Mississippi retirees Percy and Emma Brown traveled 50 miles roundtrip three times a week from their home in Vicksburg, Miss. to their farm in Port Gibson in order to water their cattle. It was a time consuming process that involved filling up eight barrels with many gallons of water for the growing cattle herd.
That all changed when the Browns, who were new to farming, heard about USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency that helps private landowners implement conservation. They visited the Port Gibson field office and learned that they could receive funding from NRCS for livestock water troughs through the USDA StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative. Read more »
Shane Kerner used an FSA Rural Youth Loan to purchase cattle, including her ‘best show’ heifer shown here. From that point, she built a thriving commercial herd.
Shane Kerner applied for her first USDA Farm Service Agency Rural Youth Loan at age 14. Now, at age 20, she not only reached adulthood, but financial independence to grow what was once a 4-H project into a thriving cattle operation.
“I never thought I would get as far as I am today with my cattle,” said Shane. “It is truly a privilege to have the opportunity to start at a young age and see the growth of your animals from seed stock to a small commercial herd, right outside your door.”
Shane refers to her operation as a passion for finding the highest genetics for breeding Angus cattle. With the proceeds from the sale of seven grass-fed calves she purchased with the youth loan, she bought more cattle, including her best show heifer. This started the foundation for growing a registered Angus herd. Read more »