Farmers and ranchers were among the first to practice conservation. It’s not surprising when you think about it. They’ve always understood the importance of caring for our land and water, and they depend on our natural resources for their livelihoods. They’re at the forefront of our country’s efforts to keep the land healthy, productive and resilient. And we’re proud to partner with them in that effort.
This year, we’re celebrating two more conservation milestones: the 30th anniversary of USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), one of the largest private lands conservation programs in the nation; and registering the 1 millionth acre in CRP’s State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) initiative. Read more »
USDA's Economic Research Service, and other researchers, analyzed the similarities and differences of the Chesapeake Bay and the Baltic Sea to help preserve the water quality of each.
Situated on two different continents and separated by thousands of miles, the Chesapeake Bay on the East Coast of the United States and the Baltic Sea in northern Europe face remarkably similar problems. Both are relatively shallow basins of brackish water. Both marine areas suffer from eutrophication–pollution caused by introduction of chemical nutrients. For both water bodies, agriculture is the single most important source of those nutrients, and governments have implemented policies to reduce nutrient loads and improve marine ecosystems.
Researchers at the Natural Resources Institute Finland, USDA’s Economic Research Service, and the University of Helsinki have analyzed the similarities and differences between the institutional settings and protection policies of the Chesapeake Bay and the Baltic Sea. The aim was to identify avenues for reducing the cost of meeting water quality objectives. The very different political and institutional histories of the jurisdictions within the respective watersheds provide both contrasts and similarities. The six U.S. States in the Chesapeake watershed have a common political history and operate under Federal environmental law. The Baltic watershed is made up of 14 nations whose intergovernmental relations are strongly influenced by Cold War legacies. Yet current policies in both watersheds rely heavily on voluntary approaches to control agricultural runoff. Read more »
FSA Administrator Val Dolcini speaks at the 2015 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic.
I recently attended the 2015 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic in Des Moines, Iowa, where I met with sportsmen, farmers, young people, wildlife biologists and others who are committed to strengthening wildlife habitat throughout America. It was exciting to see firsthand the passion for the native and restored grasslands and woodlands that typify the rural American landscape.
I had the honor of speaking to the group, where I highlighted the 30th anniversary of USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). CRP, one of the largest private lands conservation programs in the nation, is designed to reduce soil erosion, improve water and air quality, and provide habitat for wildlife. Interested landowners can establish long-term USDA-approved grasses or trees in exchange for USDA helping with the cost of establishing the plants and providing annual payments for 10 to 15 years. The covers along fields, streams and rivers prevent soil and nutrients from washing into waterways, reduce soil erosion that may otherwise contribute to poor air and water quality, and provide valuable habitat for wildlife. Read more »
Like many ranchers suffering from the effects of drought, LaNelle Martin paid $5,000 more for high-priced hay and feed to keep her small operation running.
This post is part of a disaster assistance program feature series on the USDA blog. Check back every Wednesday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
When enrollment opened for the USDA disaster assistance programs this April, LaNelle Martin was one of the first to sign up at the Kimball County FSA office in Nebraska.
“After two years of a severe drought our pastures are limited and haven’t grown,” said Martin. “We need the pasture to support our cattle and the cost of feed and hay is pricey.”
Nebraska, along with portions of the southern and western parts of the United States has suffered one of the longest and most devastating droughts in history. Kimball County’s worst seasons were 2012 to 2013, when the area was named a primary natural disaster area by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. This year, some snow and spring rains provided a little relief, “But as most of our producers say, we are only four to six weeks away from another disaster,” said Patricia Perry, FSA program technician in the Kimball County office. Read more »
Andy Getting’s high tunnel, financed with a Microloan from FSA, protects his new strawberries.
This post is part of a Microloan Success feature series on the USDA blog. Check back every Tuesday and Thursday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
Beginning farmer Andy Getting was doing some research on the Internet when he came across information on USDA’s Microloan program. The program allows beginning, small and mid-sized farmers to access up to $35,000 in loans using a simplified application process, and with up to seven years to repay.
Getting, an Iowa farmer, grows irrigated corn, soybeans and strawberries. He is a part-owner with his parents, Don and Mary Getting, who are starting their 30th farming season.
The Gettings started growing strawberries in 1983 on one acre. Next year, they will pick 17 acres of June-bearing strawberries. Their customers have the option of picking their own berries or they can buy pre-picked berries at the market, which also sells fresh strawberry shakes, muffins, bread and many other strawberry-flavored baked goods made by Getting’s grandmother. During the summer months, the market employs 15 to 30 people. Read more »
This year, passage of a long-term, comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is critical to providing certainty for U.S. producers. This includes the continued availability of conservation programs that give our farmers, ranchers and private foresters the means to conserve the soil, protect our water and sustain America’s natural resources.
Thanks to programs provided by the Farm Bill, USDA has been able to enroll a record number of private lands in conservation practices. Over the past four years, we have worked with more than 500,000 producers, landowners and private foresters on projects that help the environment, while providing a new source of income.
From May 20 to June 14, USDA is holding the 45th General Signup under the Conservation Reserve Program – another important effort provided by a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. Read more »