America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners face a complex and ever-changing threat in the form of a changing and shifting climate. The past three years alone have brought some of the most severe and devastating floods, droughts and fires our nation has experienced in recent history.
While no individual event can be linked to climate change, extreme weather conditions are increasingly impacting our farmers, ranchers and forest owners, to the detriment of their bottom lines, our food supply, and the future security of our farm economy.
We need a strategy that strengthens agriculture’s response to the impacts of a changing and shifting climate. Our farmers and ranchers need new and better tools to respond and prepare for the challenges of drought, heat stress, excessive moisture, longer growing seasons and changes in pest pressure. Read more »
National FFA officers meet with Secretary Vilsack at the Agriculture Department on January 15. USDA photo by Tom Witham.
“We are excited by the challenges you presented to us,” said FFA National Secretary Mitch Bayer at the conclusion of a half-hour meeting of National FFA officers with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the USDA Whitten Building earlier this week.
In his meeting with the officers, the Secretary covered a wide range of issues, including the immediate need for a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. When it passes, he said, the National FFA should study provisions that will help young, beginning farmers become established. He said there will be, he hopes, an easier path to credit and also support for the USDA microloan program, which helps beginning farmers and others buy equipment, rent ground, and buy livestock or supplies at affordable interest rates. The Secretary noted that 70 percent of the world’s farmers are women, and USDA is working to provide greater opportunities to women, Native Americans, Hispanics, African Americans and others who want to farm. Read more »
Leech Lake Wildland Fire Crew members George Jacobs, Tim Bebeau, Charlie Blackwell and Daniel Wind. (Courtesy Leech Lake Wildland Fire Crew)
Establishing trust and building relationships are key factors in working with Indian Tribes across the country. One of the most historic partnerships between the U.S. Forest Service and an Indian Tribe has been forged between the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the Chippewa National Forest.
“This [partnership] essentially took more than 100 years to craft,” said Fred Clark, director of Office Tribal Relations for the Forest Service. “It allows the Forest Service and the Tribe to move toward a positive future, while not forgetting the history that brought us all this far.”
The Chippewa National Forest and the Tribe have worked together on road maintenance, non-native species control, fuels treatments, tree planting and prescribed fire support since 2010. Read more »
South Dakota United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks (right) meets with Colleen Steele, Executive Director, Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial. USDA photo.
“Being a homeowner is absolutely rewarding to my family and me. Owning my own home means stability, safety and accomplishment in our lives,” said Stephanie Richards-Apple. She purchased her home through Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial. Mazaska is a partner to USDA Rural Development in South Dakota and a member of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition (Coalition). Richards-Apple worked with Mazaska to make the step from tenant to homeowner. Her story highlights the importance of the work of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition.
The Coalition is a partnership of Federal and State agencies, Housing Development Authorities and non-profit entities that share the common goal of improving Native homeownership in South Dakota. South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks welcomed over 50 participants at a coalition-sponsored training session in Pierre, SD and stated “We strive to advocate and strengthen families and Native communities through homeownership; it isn’t often that the Native and non-native housing organizations get to learn from each other.” Read more »
Children from Emerson Elementary School in Albuquerque, N.M., were treated to their own pumpkin, compliments of the New Mexico Farm Service Agency. More than 8,500 pumpkins were donated to schools, children’s hospitals and local food banks.
What started out with just a handful of FSA employees trying to do the right thing has turned into an annual event that spans six New Mexico counties.
Ten years ago John Perea, county executive director for Torrance County, N.M., started a project to glean pumpkins from farmers John and Dianne Aday.
“We started it as an effort to take pumpkins that were left in the field and still in good shape, and try to get them to needy children,” said Perea, who along with other FSA employees coordinates the event each year. “We try to find schools in areas which demographically have families that are lower income and in neighborhoods with a history of drug abuse and various social problems.” Read more »
Oklahoma Rural Development State Director Ryan McMullen joins project representatives, elected officials, and community representatives to cut a ribbon officially declaring the completion of the 1st of 30 towers, comprising the new broadband network. USDA photo.
Reinforcing USDA’s commitment to connecting rural America to the global economy, Oklahoma USDA Rural Development State Director Ryan McMullen, cut the ribbon on a new high-speed internet network, projected to serve more than 4,000 rural Oklahoma residents, many of them Native American, and 1,400 businesses.
The Oklahoma-owned company, @Atlink, that secured the funding for the project, hosted the event at the site of the completion of their first of thirty towers. The new, vast network will span from I-35 near Ardmore, to the northeast to Sapulpa, while covering sprawling areas between Pauls Valley and Muskogee. @Atlink secured $8 million for this project through the USDA Broadband Initiatives Program. The funding for their loan/grant combination was provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Read more »