This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
One of the most exciting aspects of my job as the head of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and an advocate for statistical literacy is to see students coming into the profession of statistics. We are fortunate, according to Bob Rodriguez, past-president of the American Statistical Association (ASA) in a column published in ASA’s AMSTATNEWS, “that the number of students majoring or minoring in statistics is soaring because of positive experiences in AP Statistics courses. The word is out that statistics is a ‘must’.”
Engaging students even earlier than high school is important not only for developing future statisticians but also so that they understand the importance of responding to surveys. Both private and government statistics, including those about agriculture from my agency, are dependent on voluntary survey response. Read more »
Following the devastating effects of tornadoes this week, USDA is offering assistance to those in need. USDA offers many programs that can provide assistance to landowners, farmers, ranchers and producers during disasters. No Presidential or Secretarial declarations are required for the provision of much of this assistance.
Agricultural producers are reminded that Federal crop insurance covers tornado damage, as well as other natural causes of loss. Please remember to report your loss to your insurance agent or company within 72 hours and in writing within 15 days. Your insurance company will send out a loss adjuster as soon as they are safely able to do so and will document your insurance claim. Please remember that you cannot destroy your crop or plant a new crop until the loss adjuster or your insurance company has informed you that you can do so. Read more »
At the beginning of this New Year, we at USDA are redoubling our efforts to achieve an adequate, defensible safety net for producers, more economic opportunity through the biobased economy, safe and nutritious food for Americans, robust efforts to carry out research and greater conservation of our natural resources.
To further our efforts in these areas, I hope to work with Congress this year to secure passage of a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.
One very important part of a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is to provide a safety net for America’s producers, who face a great deal of uncertainty in their work – both from Mother Nature and market prices. Historically, the Farm Bill authorizes USDA to provide disaster assistance for producers and step in with help when they face volatile markets. Read more »
Agricultural Weather Assessment chat of United States cattle areas located in drought. Click to enlarge image.
Visit www.usda.gov/drought for the latest information regarding USDA’s drought assistance.
Recent rains have dented drought in the Southeast, but southwestern and central portions of the U.S. have experienced little overall change in drought coverage. By January 1, 2013, the portion of the contiguous U.S. in drought stood at 61.09%, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, down from a September 2012 peak of 65.45%. Despite the slight decline in overall U.S. drought coverage, the portion of the nation experiencing the worst drought category – D4, or exceptional drought – has been slowly rising. Exceptional drought covered 6.75% of the nation on January 1, the greatest U.S. coverage since November 2011. Read more »
Debbie Casto, Forest Service fire management officer for the National Forests in Florida, discusses the precautions taken before conducting a prescribed burn near threatened and endangered species sites on the Apalachicola National Forest. The forest is home to several endangered species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker. (Forest Service photo by Susan Blake)
More than 8,000 miles from home, fire management officers from Australia and New Zealand recently visited the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida to share techniques and strategies in the use of prescribed fire.
“We see how the use of frequent fire intervals helps manage the different fuel types,” said Andrew Greystone, fire and emergency service manager from Victoria, Australia. The Apalachicola appears to be a more diverse forest – including species, flora, fauna, habitat for birds and other animals – than what we’re used to seeing.” Read more »
Over the course of 2012, farm families and rural communities faced a number of challenges. A record drought impacted much of the country and many were impacted by a major hurricane, flooding and severe storms. However, thanks to the resilience of rural Americans, our communities are still going strong.
Over the course of this year, USDA continued our record efforts to help folks across our nation, and I am proud of the work we carried out.
We supported agriculture. This summer, USDA convened the White House Rural Council to help America’s farmers and ranchers overcome drought. We provided unique flexibility for crop insurance that saved producers more than $20 million, expanded emergency lending for producers, opened more than 2.8 million acres of conservation land for emergency forage and more. Read more »