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Posts tagged: Environment

USDA and National Weather Service Team Up to Provide 2013 Weather Outlook

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 »

Skip Hyberg Honored With Economist of the Year Award

He is a quantitative and scientific force behind the nation’s largest conservation program.

Armed with two doctoral degrees, Skip Hyberg is an economist and a scientist who has linked both of those worlds together to more efficiently target the Farm Service Agency’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

For nearly a decade’s worth of work invested into the monitoring, assessment and evaluation of the CRP program, Hyberg was awarded the 2013 USDA Economist of the Year Award by the USDA Economists Group. Read more »

Regreening Baltimore

Baltimore’s Oliver Neighborhood is a mix of occupied and abandoned rowhouses. The U.S. Forest Service is working with partners to host the Carbon Challenge green building design contest, promoting sustainable and livable neighborhoods in Baltimore and Providence, R.I. (L.F. Chambers, U.S. Forest Service photo)

Baltimore’s Oliver Neighborhood is a mix of occupied and abandoned rowhouses. The U.S. Forest Service is working with partners to host the Carbon Challenge green building design contest, promoting sustainable and livable neighborhoods in Baltimore and Providence, R.I. (L.F. Chambers, U.S. Forest Service photo)

Depending on who you talk to, there are between 16,000 and 20,000 vacant homes in Baltimore. Once a mid-20th century boomtown where residents built the liberty ships and liberator bombers that helped win World War II, the middle-class dreams of this city have been in a decades-long decline. Entire blocks stand empty, lifeless veneers of boarded windows and burnt-out roofs.

But the U.S. Forest Service is working to help change that, promoting livable and workable buildings for 21st-Century occupants, while retaining the vibrant culture and community that once characterized these streets. Read more »

Under Cover Operation—Using No-Till Methods in Texas to Beat Drought

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.

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 »

USDA Climate Change Adaptation Plan Open for Public Comment

USDA is committed to fostering a clean energy economy and to improving the environment by conducting operations in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner, complying with environmental laws and regulations, and leading by example. In order to fulfill its mission of providing leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues, USDA focuses on the future. The Department recognizes the significance of global climate change and how potential impacts such as more frequent or severe weather events can affect our programs and operations.

To better coordinate USDA’s sustainability efforts and build on past success, USDA has prepared its 2012 Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan that underscores strategies and goals to save taxpayer dollars, reduce carbon emissions, cut waste and save energy.  As part of this effort, this year we have also prepared a Climate Change Adaptation Plan that outlines how the Department will address the impacts of climate change on its key mission areas such as agricultural production, food security, rural development, and forestry and natural resources conservation. The plan is available and open for a 60-day public comment period.

The USDA Climate Change Adaptation Plan includes input from eleven USDA agencies and offices.  It provides a detailed vulnerability assessment, reviews the elements of USDA’s mission that are at risk from climate change, and provides specific actions and steps being taken to build resilience to climate change.  The plan advances President Obama’s efforts to prepare the federal government for climate change.  We expect to revise and update the plan in 2013 in response to comments received from the public. Read more »

Ten Best Cities for Urban Forests

Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation)

Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation)

America is home to more than 100 million acres of urban and community forests. These are the forests that line our streets, shade our buildings and burst with color every spring and fall. Trees also clean our air and help prevent pollution and flooding. That’s one of the reasons we like to call our urban trees ‘the hardest working trees in America.’ Read more »