Alex Weiss from Caledonia Spirits, Arnold Coombs from Bascom Family Farms, and Jeremy Stephenson from the Vermont Cheese Council, attend the Food and Hotel China Show in Shanghai to exhibit their agricultural products. The small businesses attended the trade show with the help of one of the State and Regional Trade Groups – coalitions of state departments of agriculture – that use USDA market development program funds to provide support for about 30,000 companies annually. (Courtesy Photo)
Recently, USDA announced that U.S. agricultural exports for fiscal year 2013 finished at another record level, continuing the strongest five-year period for such exports in our nation’s history. Much of this success is due to small businesses, which Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack noted are the backbone of the economy in rural communities, small towns and big cities.
USDA’s efforts with small businesses is helped by the work of four State Regional Trade Groups – coalitions of state departments of agriculture – that use USDA market development program funds to provide support for about 30,000 companies annually. Read more »
The Ramirez Viejo Ranch in Penitas, Texas is a decades-old ranch. Photo courtesy of NRCS.
While addressing the effects of the 2012 drought, USDA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other federal partners are preparing proactively for the next one.
As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the Obama Administration today announced an interagency National Drought Resilience Partnership to help communities better prepare for future droughts and reduce the impact of drought events on livelihoods and the economy.
Spearheaded by USDA and NOAA, members of the National Drought Resilience Partnership will coordinate the delivery of Federal Government policies, programs, information and tools designed to help communities plan for and respond to drought. Other partners in this effort include the Department of the Interior, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. Read more »
Newly installed pivot irrigation lines run behind Gerry Gonzalez, NRCS district conservationist in Douglas (left) and farmer Alfredo Zamora.
Travel 30 miles south of Alfredo and Sabrina Zamora’s farm in Cochise County, Ariz., and the imposing border fence between the U.S. and Mexico rises up across the horizon. This border county is rural, arid, open land where the Zamoras have spent their lives farming.
The couple is well known in the area for their cotton, pecans and alfalfa crops and they are no strangers at the local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Douglas. They’ve worked with NRCS over the years to plan out and implement conservation on their farm, including more efficient water and irrigation practices, the use of crop residue to improve soil health and the reduction of soil erosion. Read more »
Goats on the Cleveland National Forest nibble on vegetation to defend communities against wildfire by reducing regrowth. (U.S. Forest Service photo)
Recently, 1,400 goats reported for duty with the U.S. Forest Service. Their mission: Lend their appetites to the removal of fuels buildup on the Cleveland National Forest.
The goats were a part of a 100-acre forest-thinning project that begin in late April to clear a 300-foot community fuel break area between the San Vicente/Barona Mesa communities and the forest. Read more »
On Friday, May 17, 2013, in Mexico City, Mexico USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack led U.S. and Mexican agribusiness representatives in a discussion of priority issues affecting North American agriculture. The roundtable’s participants represented the breadth and diversity of agricultural trade between the United States and Mexico. Representatives from Grupo Bimbo, Gruma, Driscoll’s, Cargill, and others joined the Secretary, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Anthony Wayne, and Acting Deputy Under Secretaries Suzanne Heinen and Max Holtzman to share their views on the opportunities and obstacles facing increased agricultural trade between the United States and Mexico. Read more »
In an effort to advance food and agricultural research that enables farmers and ranchers to meet the growing global demand for food, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Chief Scientist Catherine Woteki will lead the U.S. Government’s delegation to the first-ever Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists (MACS) in Guadalajara, Mexico this week. Member countries committed to the meeting earlier this year at the June 2012 G-20 Leaders Summit, as a step to gain greater efficiency and utility from global agricultural research investments. The meeting is being convened by the Mexican government as part of their role heading the Group of Twenty (G-20) this year.
“Over the next 50 years, we will need to produce as much food for the world’s population as has been produced in the entire history of mankind,” said Woteki, who is also USDA’s Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. “A challenge this serious and urgent requires bringing together the best minds in food and agricultural science to chart our course on research. This meeting is the first of its kind, and I believe it is the beginning of a collaboration that will benefit scientists, farmers, and citizens around the world.” Read more »