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 »
As we look ahead to the coming years, I know that rural America has unlimited capacity to continue providing a great deal for every American – including even more opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.
We know that many Americans deeply value outdoor recreation. According to industry estimates more than 140 million Americans participate in some outdoor recreation activity annually. In fact, more than 38 percent of American adults participate in hunting and fishing alone.
These opportunities are important for those living in our cities, and for their families. Outdoor recreation helps us all to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors – from parks, to trails, to lakes and forests. Meanwhile, getting outdoors allows us to instill a love and appreciation of the environment for our youngsters. Read more »
Gary and Karen Ricley on their Flying 7 Ranch, Platte County, Wyoming.
Some people have “heaven on earth.”
Have you ever wondered who or what they were talking about? If you were in Wyoming, it might have been Gary and Karen Ricley and their ranch along Slater Flats.
When Gary was offered an early retirement from his executive job in the auto industry in 1998, he was just 52 years old, so the Denver resident and his wife looked for a new adventure. They learned about a short section of land for sale in southern Platte County, an area known as Slater Flats. Read more »
USDA Forest Service research is transforming exhausted farmland in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee into thousands of acres of hardwood forests that will provide revenue to landowners, remove carbon from the air and serve as habitats for wildlife.
In 1998, scientists with the Forest Service’s Center for Bottomland Hardwoods Research, in Stoneville, Miss., began testing methods of afforestation – growing trees on barren farmland. The result was a tree-planting technique that mixed cottonwoods trees (poplars) with hardwood yearlings to produce strong, straight-stemmed hardwood trees.
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A burn scar from a recent rangeland wildfire is evident in Kleberg County Texas – more than 3 million acres of rangeland have been lost to wildfires in Texas this year.
Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Bruce Nelson traveled to South Texas last week in the midst of the historic drought impacting most of Texas and the Southwest and adversely affecting thousands of agricultural producers. Nelson took the opportunity to visit with area farmers, ranchers and agribusiness representatives who are working hard to keep their operations going in the face of the natural disaster. He made a point to reassure everyone that Secretary Vilsack and the USDA are committed to helping affected producers. Read more »
There are new developments in two popular USDA programs that will support conservation of working lands for the benefit of wildlife, water quality, and recreation. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is expanding its efforts to encourage owners of privately held farm, ranch and forest land in eight additional states and one Tribal area to voluntarily open the land for public recreational use. It also announced the enrollment of acreage under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
The Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP) is a grant program open to state and tribal governments that provides a financial incentive to encourage landowners to open their land to the public for wildlife-dependent recreation such as fishing or hunting. Read more »