Natural resource conservation is paramount to the ongoing strength of our nation. Healthy soil contributes to agricultural productivity. Healthy forests clean our water and air. Vibrant waterways are critical for our health, for transportation and for trade. Investments into conservation spur job growth and community development, particularly in rural areas.
This is an uncertain time for USDA conservation activities. Congress has not yet passed a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that would continue to invest in conservation efforts, while providing rural America with certainty regarding many other important programs.
As we continue urging Congress to provide a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, USDA this week took several new steps to strengthen conservation across the country. Read more »
A healthy alfalfa field in the Santo Domingo Pueblo as a result of improved soil health and a new irrigation system.
Just off the Rio Grande River, between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M., sits Santo Domingo Pueblo, a community surrounded by fields of alfalfa, oats and Sudan grass for horses and cattle, and small gardens filled with corn and green chili peppers.
But this green idyll is in danger of drying out. Over the past few years, New Mexico has been struggling through one of the worst droughts in recorded history. Little rain and a dwindling river have threatened many of the Pueblo’s fields and gardens. Read more »
Ben Hofer, Rockport Colony Secretary, with a Kangal. NWRC researchers are studying the potential of these livestock guard animals for use where large predators include wolves and grizzly bear. The Kangal breed is gentle and trustworthy with their people or animals, but if the need arises they can become very protective. (USDA Photo by Under Secretary Edward Avalos)
USDA plays an important and vital role in supporting rural communities throughout the country. On my recent trip to Montana, I saw firsthand how the work, services and programs provided by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) directly impact stakeholder day-to-day operations.
After a listening session in Cut Bank, I was invited to the Rockport Colony, by Ben Hofer, the Secretary for the Hutterite community near Pendroy, Montana. This impressive communal farming/ranching operation includes sheep, cattle, hog and poultry production, a dairy, and meat-processing facility, as well as fruit, vegetable, and grain production. I quickly learned USDA is an important partner, providing support for water lines, fencing, and wildlife damage management. Read more »
Hatch green chiles can be used in everything from potato salad to lemonade.
It’s no secret I love New Mexican grown green chiles. So does Melissa’s World Variety Produce in Los Angeles, California. So much so, that during a recent trip to California, I attended a spicy workshop and reception hosted by Melissa’s, featuring New Mexican Hatch green chiles.
“When I grew up, I thought there was only one kind of chile: we just called them green.” says corporate chef Rodriguez who grew up in El Paso, Texas.
Southwesterners like Ida and I may just call them “greens”. However, the rest of the country is quickly getting to know these meaty, flavorful Hatch green chiles, named after Hatch, New Mexico, epicenter of state’s chile growing region. Read more »
Recently I traveled to New Mexico to meet with APHIS-Wildlife Services’ personnel for a firsthand view of their Feral Swine Removal Demonstration Project that aims to eliminate feral swine from the state. Feral swine are an invasive species with a population that has grown from approximately 1 million in 17 states in the 1980s to more than 5 million across 38 states today. If left unchecked, their numbers could exceed 10 million by 2018. Feral swine carry more than 30 diseases that pose a potential threat to humans, livestock, and wildlife, and the total cost of feral swine damage to U.S. agriculture, livestock facilities, private property, and natural resources is estimated to be $1.5 billion annually.
Wildlife Services’ demonstration project is benefitting from tremendous cooperation with federal, state, tribal, and nongovernmental partners, including the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico Department of Agriculture, New Mexico State Land Office, and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, as well as with the Mescalero Apache Tribe, New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, New Mexico Wool Growers’ Association, affected counties and private land owners, among others. Read more »
New Mexico USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner (r) presents a certificate of congratulations to Sandra and Miguel Duarte. The presentation was made during National Homeownership Month event in Sunland Park to honor the Durate family for becoming new homeowners. USDA photo.
During their seven years of marriage, Miguel and Sandra Duarte and their two children became tired of living in an apartment. Then one hot summer day in 2012, Mr. Duarte, a surveyor, found himself working on a housing subdivision in Sunland Park, New Mexico on the Mexican border. That’s when he asked his boss, “I wonder if I could buy one of these homes?”
Soon he was in the Las Cruces, New Mexico USDA Rural Development office talking with housing staff about homeownership. After qualifying for a Rural Development direct home loan the construction of the Duarte home soon began. As soon as the final electric connection is made to the house the Durate’s will move into their new home later this month. Read more »