Ann Johnson grows wine grapes in El Dorado County, Calif., where she carefully uses each drop of water. Water is imperative to her operation, and using it wisely and keeping it clean are important to private landowners like her.
Conservation practices, like a drip irrigation system, help her care for this natural resource. A public television series, “This American Land,” will showcase Johnson and other California farmers and ranchers who are working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to put conservation on the ground.
The segment, “Precious Sierra Water,” is included in the season’s sixth episode, being released this month to public TV stations across the country. Read more »
All of us rely on nature’s benefits during our daily routines, but few stop to think about how we can sustain those benefits over time. Luckily, there are economists, resource managers, and policymakers working on tools to help manage resources—and environmental markets are one of those tools. Environmental markets allow people who use ecosystem services to pay those who provide environmental benefits. In some cases, the environmental stewards who can provide benefits (like clean water, air and habitats) are farmers. While there is promise in environmental markets, there are a lot of kinks to work out.
Two new issue papers by the World Resources Institute, take a deep dive into the mechanics of water quality trading and other environmental markets by exploring options for market development. The papers were produced with support from the USDA Office of Environmental Markets, and were released earlier this month. Read more »
Larry Romanelli, with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Ogema (left) and NRCS Michigan State Conservationist Garry Lee (right) pose with artist Shirley M. Brauker, the winner of the agency’s Native American Heritage Month poster contest. NRCS photo.
When the Anishinaabe people migrated from the Atlantic Ocean coast to Michigan centuries ago, they were in search of a place where “food grows on the water,” according to their tribe’s legend. Their quest ended when they found wild rice, thriving in shallow waters in the Great Lakes region.
The wild rice, or manoomin, served as a staple of the Anishinaabe diet is still culturally and spiritually important to them. And, today, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is helping keep this tradition alive.
NRCS has worked with two Anishinaabe tribes to increase the number of wild rice beds using financial assistance from Farm Bill conservation programs. The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was the first tribe to use NRCS assistance for planting rice. Tribal members planted about 12 acres of wild rice at six locations in 2006. Read more »
Michael Scuse, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, listens to those impacted by the Atlas Blizzard in South Dakota.
Farmers and ranchers know many variables are sometimes not in their hands, especially when it comes to weather. That’s why USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Senator Tim Johnson asked me to travel to South Dakota this week to see firsthand the widespread destruction to livestock in the wake of the Atlas Blizzard, and to consult with affected producers on how USDA can help right now – - despite two years of Congressional inaction on the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.
When I joined one farmer in his living room, learning how his livestock losses, including pregnant stock, meant years of income gone, I thought of Congress, how it lurches from one crisis to the next, and how that legislative atrophy creates real consequences beyond just American farmers but for entire rural communities. Read more »
Some regions of the United States seem to experience drought more often and more severely. Farmers in more drought-prone regions are adapting to their higher exposure. Photo Credit: Shutterstock.
Economists working on climate change spend a lot of time trying to predict how farmers are going to adapt. Without knowing how farmers will react to higher average temperatures or different rainfall patterns, we cannot accurately say what climate change will mean for the future. Farmers have many adaptation options available. They can change the mix of crops they grow, as well as their production practices, and production might be redistributed across regions. The Economic Research Service (ERS) has looked at potential impacts including how some regions will be impacted through commodity price changes resulting from climate-driven crop acreage changes farmers make in other regions. Read more »
Easy to build, maintain and move, high tunnels provide an energy-efficient way to extend the growing season and provide fresh food for local communities. NRCS photo by Jason Hughes.
Janet Mahala runs an organic farm nestled in a small valley in the Tennessee Appalachian Mountains. Last year she started a Community Supported Agriculture membership program on her farm. Shortly thereafter she expanded production with a high tunnel which has extended her farm’s growing season by several months. Read more »