Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack listens to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) supervisory plant physiologist Dr. Jerry Hatfield explain the equipment to gather information on climate changes and impacts on corn and soybean plants in Iowa.
As world leaders gather in Paris this week to negotiate a new global climate agreement, it is important to recognize the contributions of farmers, ranchers and foresters in the United States towards achieving a more food secure world while adapting to climate change, increasing carbon sequestration, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Over the course of my tenure as Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, U.S. producers have faced a record drought, which the University of California estimates has cost farmers in California alone an estimated $3 billion in 2015. We’ve seen increasing incursions of invasive pests and diseases and extreme weather, everything from bark beetle to severe droughts, which have cost billions in lost productivity. We’ve faced a series of record wildfire seasons in the western United States—the worst decade in U.S. history for wildfire. The growing El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific has created the perfect storm for disasters to strike the already damaged and weakened western landscape. Read more »
Throughout December, be sure to follow #HighFive to see just what we’ve been up to in the last 12 months, and stay tuned as we look forward to a 2016 that promises to be better than ever.
This year, millions of rural businesses and families were positively impacted by USDA investments in their communities. From helping farmers and ranchers bring their products to tables here and abroad, to building critical infrastructure in America’s rural areas, to conserving our nation’s natural resources with long-lasting partnerships, USDA is continuously working toward better results each year for the American people. As 2015 draws to a close, we want to thank our nation’s farmers and ranchers and rural families for all they’ve done by highlighting some of the most moving and motivating stories of the year. Read more »
Barn side flag in rural america.
There’s always something to give thanks for at harvest time, but our gratitude shouldn’t be limited to this page of the calendar. Farmers, ranchers, and veterans come to mind as leaves become memories and daylight diminishes. This small portion of our population ensures that what we sometimes take for granted as plans for the holiday season unfold, is also available for all year round.
When you think about it, each time we lift a fork from our table, a farmer or rancher makes possible almost every morsel of food on the plate. At night as we enjoy resting peacefully in the comfort of our homes, a member of our military is somewhere in harm’s way providing a blanket of security for our uninterrupted sleep. The men and women responsible for these gifts display the best of rural America’s cultural landscape. Read more »
“Today I had the opportunity to meet with Cuban fruit and vegetable farmers in the Antero Regalado Agricultural Cooperative in Güira de Melena, and hog and sheep producers in the Niceto Pérez Livestock Cooperative. They talked openly about the membership structure of their cooperatives, and they share many of the same concerns that face American farmers, such as climate change and pests, in addition to their own unique challenges with irrigation and equipment. I look forward to seeing more Americans have the opportunity for conversations and exchanging of ideas with their Cuban counterparts like I have had over the past few days. Throughout history, agriculture has served as a bridge to foster cooperation, and I have no doubt that agriculture will continue to play that powerful role as we expand our relationship with the Cuban people in the coming years.” – Secretary Vilsack
Last week, I was part of the first USDA team to visit Cuba since U.S. Government offices were closed there in 1961, and I was the third U.S. Cabinet official to visit the island since President Obama announced his intent to resume relations with Cuba late last year. Food and agricultural goods are the dominant U.S. exports to Cuba, and it is my firm belief—and one that appears to be shared by the Cuban people and government officials—that agriculture can serve as a bridge to foster cooperation, understanding and the exchange of ideas. Read more »
Ed Spence retired from the U.S. Marine Corps and moved back home to North Carolina with his wife Sheila to farm. The FSA microloan helped Spence purchase a plastic mulcher and seed and fertilizer for two years.
Growing up on a farm in Kipling, North Carolina, Edward Spence thought the one thing he was not going to do as an adult was farm.
“It was hard work from sunup to sundown and there was no reward for it because we didn’t own the land,” said Spence, whose parents were sharecroppers. “We had a place to live and a small plot to grow the food we ate, but there was no financial reward, nothing tangible.”
That all changed when “life happened,” said Spence. After losing two brothers in the Vietnam War, Spence volunteered — when others were drafted — to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps and fight for his country. Read more »
Beginning farmers may explore new web resources to help them get started. USDA photo.
Agriculture is an inherently risky business. Some risks are everyday business risks; some risks are brought on by natural disasters. Producers need to regularly manage for financial, marketing, production, human resource and legal risks.
Helping farmers and ranchers overcome such unexpected events, not only benefits individual producers, but also rural communities that depend on agriculture. Over time, resilient rural producers help form robust rural economies, which build a strong economic foundation and provide improved access to credit for the next generation of beginning farmers and ranchers. Read more »