The current vegetation index across the United States. NASS uses satellite images like these to look at weekly crop progress.
When it comes to growing crops, weather is a constantly changing variable. These past few years, grain farmers have been on a veritable weather roller coaster. The floods of 2011 were followed by perfect spring planting conditions in 2012. Conditions deteriorated rapidly, resulting in one of the worst droughts in at least 25 years. This year, the weather has thrown yet another knuckleball at farmers, idling field work and reducing plantings to the slowest pace since 1984 in many areas. Read more »
Rancher Willie Utley of Benavides, Texas and Sammy Guerra, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationist in Benavides, Tex., discuss the successful drilling of the water well they’re standing behind. (NRCS photo/Beverly Moseley)
For months, South Texas ranchers have been struggling to keep cattle fed and watered through extraordinary drought conditions. Water wells and stock tanks have run dry, and some ranchers are left with no alternative but to truck water in to cattle. Read more »
A new calf, new life on the ranch, is reason for Annie Woodson, 100, to step out into the pasture and the Texas sunshine.
Ms. Annie Faye Woodson has been directly involved in farming and ranching in Texas for the last 76 years. At 100 years-old she stays up-to-date on Farm Service Agency (FSA) program news and still makes trips to the Fannin County FSA office to sign up for farm programs and to certify acres. It is no surprise that Woodson has seen many changes throughout her life on the farm.
“I rode in a wagon, buggy and tractor,” said Woodson. “Technology is the biggest change I’ve seen in my lifetime.” Read more »
USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum featured a weather outlook for 2013 during the final session of the two-day event in Arlington, Virginia. Prior to the 2013 outlook—which was presented by National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Anthony Artusa—USDA meteorologists Brad Rippey and Eric Luebehusen recapped some of the key U.S. and Northern Hemisphere agricultural drought highlights, respectively, from the summer of 2012. In particular, the U.S. heartland suffered through its worst agricultural drought in a generation, with effects similar to those observed in 1988. Grain corn was the hardest-hit U.S. row crop, while the livestock sector was severely affected by a lack of feed due to drought-ravaged rangeland and pastures. Meanwhile, a hotter-, drier‐than‐normal summer impacted crops from southern Europe into central and eastern Russia. Hardest-hit crops included corn in Italy, Romania, and Bulgaria, as well as spring wheat in Russia’s Siberia District. Read more »
An opportunity to reach a new market is a big deal for any company, but this is especially true when it comes to our nation’s 23 million small businesses. In their search to reach new markets, they not only compete against each other they also compete with larger establishments. To help them meet their goals, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) offers some contracts exclusively for small businesses. This allows companies with less than 500 employees to compete against similar sized organizations to provide a service or product to the government. Small businesses are the glue that holds our economy together and AMS is committed to supporting them.
Our Commodity Procurement Staff (CPS) recently purchased 25 million pounds of fresh russet potatoes in one of our small business procurements. While reducing a potential surplus in the market caused by a nearly 9 percent increase in U.S. potato production from the previous year, the purchase also enabled small businesses to sell products to the USDA. These companies sent their products to food and nutrition programs like the National School Lunch Program and food banks. Read more »
Even though he is putting his entire weight on it, Henderson’s soil pressure probe cannot penetrate the surface of the soil under his neighbor’s dryland wheat crop, which has been farmed with conventional plowing methods.
Clay County, Texas farmer Tommy Henderson may not know everything about farming, but he’s got more than the basics covered—even during a historic drought. Read more »