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 »
It will take months for New York to recover from the impact of Hurricane Sandy. (photo credit: W.M. Shelley).
When the state first heard the news about a storm possibly hitting the East Coast, many people in New York did not know what to expect. Would it make landfall before New York? Would it take a turn and dissipate over the Atlantic Ocean? Forecasters had predicted that the storm would deliver “severe winds, rain and even the potential of life-threatening flooding throughout the Eastern seaboard.” As New York City began widespread evacuations and shuttered the City’s transit system, the state collectively held its breath. Read more »
U.S. Forest Service employee Jordon Sanders from Harlan, IA., waits for military aircraft to drop off more supplies in response to Hurricane Sandy at the Republic Airport in Farmingdale, NY, on Thursday, Nov 1, 2012. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.
When Hurricane Sandy was forecast to hit the east coast a little more than two weeks ago, no one would have imagined all the devastation and destruction the storm would leave behind. In days leading up to the mandatory evacuation of our coastal areas, many residents wondered if this would be a false alarm similar to last years’ evacuation, when Hurricane Irene came barreling through many of our towns. Although Irene caused considerable power outages, flooding and wind damage up and down the Garden State, nothing can compare to Sandy. Read more »