U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) engineer Kevin King (right) explains an edge of field water quality monitoring station to Ohio State Conservationist Terry Cosby, farm owners Joe and Clint Nester in the Western Lake Erie Basin near Bryan, Ohio on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014. The device allows tracking of both surface and underground water moving thru field tile. Monitoring stations results help determine what may be best farming practices on different types of soil in the watershed. USDA photo by Garth Clark.
USDA has a long history of investment in water quality and quantity issues. Still, Toledo, Ohio Mayor Michael Collins issued an emergency water advisory leaving about 500,000 people without clean tap water to drink or cook with from Aug. 2 to Aug. 4. The reason for the advisory: toxins produced by algae in Lake Erie got into the city’s water supply. Residents were forced to rely on bottled and trucked-in water for drinking, cooking, and brushing teeth. The Lake Erie algae bloom incident shows we all have a lot more work to do to ensure adequate water supplies for now and into the future.
In response to the algae bloom incident, USDA leadership, represented by Terry Cosby, NRCS state conservationist, joined Senator Sherrod Brown and Representative Marcy Kaptur, this week to immediately announce $2 million in new federal emergency funds to reduce runoff in the Western Lake Erie Basin. Read more »
Sammy Soil is NRCS' mascot and was created by a district conservationist back in the 1970s. NRCS photo.
Teaching people about soil conservation is one of our top goals at the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and fortunately, we have a special helper.
Sammy Soil, everyone’s favorite little clump of earth, has managed to capture the public’s attention for more than 40 years. The little dirt clod, as he is sometimes called, was birthed through rock particles, water, air, leaves and the artistic mind of long-time employee Ernest “Howard” Whitaker.
Sammy Soil started as a water color drawing by Whitaker, who worked as a NRCS district conservationist in Tennessee. Read more »
Grace Opono uses her oxen to implement new conservation techniques she learned thanks to USDA's Food for Progress Program.
Standing next to her healthy oxen, Grace Opono explains how new conservation techniques have doubled her maize yield over just two seasons. She is also earning a second income by providing tilling services to neighbors with her oxen. She tells me she can now afford to pay the school fees for her children and reinvest money in her land. This story of achievement shows that USDA’s Food for Progress Program is making a difference.
On a recent trip to Uganda, I saw first-hand the difference USDA-funded projects are making in people’s lives. The Food for Progress Program, administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, helps developing countries and emerging democracies introduce and expand free enterprise in the agricultural sector. U.S. agricultural commodities donated to recipient countries are sold on the local market and the proceeds are used to support agricultural, economic or infrastructure development programs administered by government agencies and private volunteer organizations (PVOs). Read more »
NRCS interns met with Juan Hernandez, NRCS state conservationist for Maine, to learn more about the agency.
Interns at USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) bring new energy and insight to the workplace. Plus, internships equip students with real-world skills that will help them in their future careers.
Interns this summer had an opportunity to work in a variety of fields, including data analysis, accounting and staffing – all important facets of the nation’s private lands conservation agency.
Meet Cindy Lee, who worked as a management analyst intern in NRCS’ Office of Regional Conservationists. Lee is a recent graduate of the University of California, Irvine, where she studied political science and social policy. Read more »
John Bushell with one of the horses on his ranch west of Dade City, Fla. NRCS photo.
John and Margaret Bushell planned to retire 11 years ago after a long career in law enforcement. But when they were about to settle down on their 50-acre ranch near Dade City, Fla. to tend cattle and ride horses, they got offered a deal from the nearby sheriff that they couldn’t pass up.
The sheriff asked them to work part time from their ranch, heading up the Pasco Sheriff’s Mounted Posse. John was a former deputy chief of police for the Tampa Police Department, where he worked for 30 years. Margaret also retired from the department, where she worked 17 years as a detective. Read more »
Last week, USDA marked the six-month anniversary of the signing of the 2014 Farm Bill. I am proud to say that we’ve made important progress on every title of the Farm Bill, including issuing disaster assistance payments, updating risk management tools, modifying farm loan programs, announcing new support for agricultural research, establishing new conservation programs, and much more.
My team and I at USDA have gathered together some top statistics that show how the Farm Bill is at work in your state—and the record results we’ve achieved this time around. For example: Read more »