A rancher and his son survey a swath of Dakota grasslands preserved by a conservation easement obtained with the help of Land and Water Conservation Funds.
Two million four hundred seventy thousand acres — equivalent in size to two Delawares — are protected through the Forest Legacy Program, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
Enacted through the 1990 Farm Bill’s Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act, this voluntary program has proved popular and crucial to aiding states in meeting their forest conservation goals.
The first Forest Legacy project was located in Vermont, the 1660-acre Cow Mountain Pond property. Today, 53 states and territories participate. The map below shows program accomplishments through 2014. Read more »
At the end of 2014, there were a record 19,474 certified organic producers in the United States and 27,814 certified organic operations around the world.
This is the twenty-fourth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.
Across the country, more and more people are looking for organic options at their local markets. Thanks to the remarkable growth in the number of domestic and international certified organic operations, Americans now have more choices than ever.
In fact, according to data released today by my agency, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), there were 19,474 certified organic producers in the United States and 27,814 certified organic operations around the world at the end of 2014. In just one year, the number of U.S. certified organic operations increased by more than 5 percent. And since the count began in 2002, the number of domestic organic operations has increased by over 250 percent. You can access the full list of certified operations at http://apps.ams.usda.gov/nop/ or download the list in Excel format going back to 2010. Read more »
American Farmland Trust President Andrew McElwaine presents NRCS Chief Jason Weller (right) with a thank you card with more than 1,300 signatures. NRCS photo.
As a part of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the most rewarding part of my job is seeing and hearing about the impact our work is having on the communities we serve.
Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting with American Farmland Trust President Andrew McElwaine. He presented me with a card signed by more than 1,300 people thanking Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and NRCS for the successful launch of the newest Farm Bill conservation program – the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, or RCPP. Read more »
Professor Edward Jones discusses an alfalfa nutrition experiment with Delaware State University students (left to right) Tony Carney, Latisha Corey, and Karen Meyer. (USDA photo by Scott Bauer)
February is traditionally a month of celebration for our nation’s 1890 land-grant universities (LGUs) in commemoration of Black History Month. These institutions are historically-black universities that were established in 1890 under the Second Morrill Act. Now, as the month draws to an end, the 1890 LGUs are setting their sights on August 30, which marks the 125th anniversary of the Congressional action that created a network of historically black colleges and universities dedicated to providing educational opportunity for all through innovative scientific research and community-minded Extension programs.
“One of the ways we can best honor black history is by providing a proper foundation to support future achievement. Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and Extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future,” said Cathie Woteki, USDA’s Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics. Read more »
The recently installed solar panels on the roof of Ideal Dairy in Richfield, Utah save them around $400 per month in utility costs on average.
Last month, Secretary Vilsack announced the opening of the new application cycle for our Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). In addition to the announcement, RBS conducted a national REAP stakeholder forum which discussed program changes and provided examples of successful projects from previous years.
For example, Ideal Dairy restaurant of Richfield, Utah used a REAP grant to leverage a loan from Zions Bank and install an array of solar panels on the roof of its retail location. The addition has saved an average of $400 a month in electricity expenditures for owners Kristi and Gary Sorenson. A larger scale solar project in Guayanila, Puerto Rico allowed a major employer – Master Paints and Chemicals Corporation – to completely offset its $180,000 annual energy expenses and give it independence from fossil fuel-based energy. Read more »
FSA Administrator Val Dolcini speaks at the 2015 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic.
I recently attended the 2015 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic in Des Moines, Iowa, where I met with sportsmen, farmers, young people, wildlife biologists and others who are committed to strengthening wildlife habitat throughout America. It was exciting to see firsthand the passion for the native and restored grasslands and woodlands that typify the rural American landscape.
I had the honor of speaking to the group, where I highlighted the 30th anniversary of USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). CRP, one of the largest private lands conservation programs in the nation, is designed to reduce soil erosion, improve water and air quality, and provide habitat for wildlife. Interested landowners can establish long-term USDA-approved grasses or trees in exchange for USDA helping with the cost of establishing the plants and providing annual payments for 10 to 15 years. The covers along fields, streams and rivers prevent soil and nutrients from washing into waterways, reduce soil erosion that may otherwise contribute to poor air and water quality, and provide valuable habitat for wildlife. Read more »