Members of the Agua Gorda Cooperative are growing organic produce for the Minneapolis market. Photo courtesy Latino Economic Development Center.
October is National Cooperative Month, and we’re happy to spotlight several projects throughout the month that have been supported through USDA Rural Development’s Cooperative Services. Jaime Villalaz, a business development specialist with the Latino Economic Development Center in Minneapolis, Minn., provided us with a glimpse into how USDA funds are being used to promote agriculture and cooperative development in the Latino community in Minnesota.
In 2011, staff from the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) in Minneapolis met with about 30 residents of Long Prairie, Minn., to discuss starting a farmer cooperative that would improve their income and promote economic development. After meetings throughout that winter, the cooperative became a legal entity in April 2012. The eight original members each contributed $250 to start the Agua Gorda Cooperative. Read more »
Ryan Pulley and his son look at Pine Creek, which flows through the land where he raises beef cattle in southeastern Minnesota. Photo: Julie MacSwain.
Pine Creek wanders through prairies and rocky bluffs, and forests and pastures, including the land where Ryan Pulley raises beef in southeastern Minnesota. Pine Creek is beautiful – fed by limestone springs and home to freshwater trout.
Coldwater streams like Pine Creek flow throughout the Driftless Area, a unique Midwestern landscape marked by its craggy limestone, sandstone valleys and steep hillsides. This terrain, which was bypassed by the glaciers, is blessed with one of the highest concentrations of limestone spring creeks in the world. Read more »
NRCS works with private landowners to develop conservation plans that benefit the environment and farm productivity.
For 80 years, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has worked with agricultural producers to make conservation improvements to their farms, ranches and forests. These improvements help clean and conserve water, boost soil quality and restore habitat, and also make their agricultural operations more resilient.
Born amid the Dust Bowl, when persistent drought and dust storms swept through the nation, NRCS worked with stewardship-minded producers to heal the land. That work continues today, as producers voluntarily step forward to conserve natural resources, having tremendous positive impacts across the country. Read more »
FSA Administrator Val Dolcini celebrates Art Hulberg's 100th Birthday and his 30 year commitment to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Photo courtesy of Deb Mercier, News Editor, Pope County Tribune
When Minnesota farmer and conservationist Arthur “Art” Hulberg celebrated his 100th birthday this month, he also marked the 30th anniversary of USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)–a program in which Hulberg has participated since its inception. Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini traveled to Benson, Minnesota, to offer birthday wishes and hand deliver a personal letter from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Hulberg and his brother Clifford farmed nearly 200 acres in Pope County, Minnesota. When CRP began, the Hulbergs eventually enrolled 188 acres in the program. When Clifford passed away in 1989, Art took over as full owner of the property and to this day works with USDA staff to manage his CRP acres. For example, when the Walk-In-Access (WIA) program began, Hulberg immediately enrolled to allow for hunting on his CRP acreage. WIA is supported by a grant through the USDA’s Voluntary Public Access Program that assists with public access to CRP for wildlife-dependent recreation. Hulberg also has helped fellow farmers and livestock producers in his community by allowing them to use his CRP acres for managed haying practices. Read more »
Raquel MacSwain, NRCS Earth Team Volunteer. Photo credit: Julie MacSwain.
I experience a sense of passion and pride towards something greater than myself every time I volunteer with an organization that directly benefits others, such as serving with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as an Earth Team Volunteer.
I have been with NRCS since 2008 – volunteering nearly 100 hours over my summer breaks and a few hours a week while in school – assisting the public affairs specialist for NRCS in Minnesota. Through my familiarity with social media, I help by developing messaging for Twitter, promoting upcoming media events, as well as other clerical tasks like designing PowerPoint slides for presentations for employee meetings. Read more »
Removing mud and seeds from your shoes can help prevent the spread of invasive plants and animals. (Photo by Kim Lanahan-Lahti, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry)
For years now, the U.S. Forest Service has been encouraging visitors to our nation’s forests and grasslands, to not only enjoy all there is out there, but to play safe and play clean.
One example of this outreach effort is the PlayCleanGo: Stop Invasive Species In Your Tracks campaign.
PlayCleanGo has 130 partners, all fostering active participation in actions designed to interrupt recreational pathways of spread for invasive species. By becoming a partner, you can spread the message to stop invasive species in your tracks. Read more »