Under Secretary Michael Scuse, North Carolina FSA State Executive Director Bob Etheridge, and FSA County Executive Director Kenny Johnson stand with farmer Kent Smith to assess flood damage to his sweet potato crop in Tarboro, North Carolina.
When Hurricane Matthew hit last month, disaster struck as high flood waters devastated communities up and down the East Coast. Agricultural producers in Eastern North Carolina were hit especially hard and suffered devastating losses to crops, livestock, and property.
Secretary Vilsack recently designated 39 counties in North Carolina as primary natural disaster areas, in addition to 15 contiguous counties. This week, I traveled to the state to visit some of the communities that were affected. I saw a peanut farm littered with uprooted plants and cracked shells. I met with an organic tobacco producer whose top soil had completely washed away. I visited a sweet potato and soybean farm that suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses. We drove by washed out roads and gutted homes with waterlogged furniture piled high on the side of the road. Read more »
Canola is the subject of a rural economic growth project in Western Oklahoma. USDA ARS image
Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs) play a unique role in USDA’s service to rural America. They link the research and educational outreach capacity of the nation’s public universities with communities, local decision makers, entrepreneurs, families, and farmers and ranchers to help address a wide range of development issues. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) provides core funding for RRDCs and integrated research, education, and extension activities.
By Rachel Welborn, project manager with the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University
How can rural communities compete in an ever-expanding global market?
Rural counties across the country are finding innovative ways to capitalize on their local strengths. Through a guided process, more than 400 counties in 38 states are discovering new ways to work together to grow their economies. Read more »
Researcher and Borlaug Fellow Issah Sugri (right) working with peanut farmers in Ghana to address aflatoxin issues. Photo credit: courtesy of Issah Sugri
Issah Sugri of Ghana is helping his nation feed itself and improve its farmers’ efficiency thanks to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program. The Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program, funded by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), is a six to 12 week training program that pairs up-and-coming researchers from selected countries with mentors from a U.S. land-grant institution or government agency. Sugri, one of 36 FAS Borlaug Fellows in 2012, was assigned to the University of Florida with the specific goal of reducing post-harvest losses of tomatoes by better understanding climate-relevant, low-tech methods of extending shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables.
When he returned to Ghana, Sugri put his fellowship training to immediate use. Collaborating with fellow researchers at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR-SARI), based in Bawku, Ghana, he published fact sheets for local farmers describing optimal harvest and storage conditions. Sugri even included his mobile phone number so he could accept field questions and provide clarification. He also worked with extension agents to train producers on post-harvest loss avoidance techniques and their economic benefits. At Sugri’s urging, SARI hired a dedicated food scientist to focus additional research on the topic. Read more »
Joel Olson (left), President of O2 Energies, Inc. of North Carolina speaks with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) staff in front of one of O2's solar projects. O2 worked with local North Carolina lender Surrey Bank & Trust and USDA Rural Development to finance the project.
USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP as we call it, is one of the flagship programs found in the energy title of the Farm Bill. Through REAP, USDA helps rural agricultural producers and small businesses improve their financial bottom line through increased energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy sources.
We wanted to share two great examples of this investment and development in North Carolina. In Mt. Airy, NC, local lenders took advantage of REAP’s loan guarantees to finance O2 Energies and build a solar farm that can provide up to 20% of the power needed by the community. Read more »
Cross-posted from the WhiteHouse.gov blog:
There’s an exciting trend underway across the country. More and more, major companies are leaving offshore hubs and turning to rural communities in America for high-quality IT talent. In addition to a narrowing wage gap and higher quality of work in these rural areas, the employee attrition rate in rural areas of the U.S. is less than half the rate typically seen in offshore locations.
The Obama Administration has supported the growth of IT jobs in rural America with unprecedented investments in rural broadband and other key infrastructure, and through innovative efforts like the White House TechHire Initiative, a multi-sector initiative and call to action to rapidly train Americans with the skills they need for well-paying, open tech jobs. Read more »
SERCH LIGHTS tools can give soybean producers the heads up about drought. USDA photo by Bob Nichols
All this month we will be taking a look at what a changing climate means to Agriculture. The ten regional USDA Climate Hubs were established to synthesize and translate climate science and research into easily understood products and tools that land managers can use to make climate-informed decisions. The Hubs work at the regional level with an extensive network of trusted USDA agency partners, technical service providers, University collaborators, and private sector advisers to ensure they have the information they need to respond to producers that are dealing with the effects of a variable climate. USDA’s Climate Hubs are part of our broad commitment to developing the next generation of climate solutions, so that our agricultural leaders have the modern technologies and tools they need to adapt and succeed in the face of a changing climate.
If you’re a farmer, rancher or working land manager in the southeastern United States, the USDA Southeast Regional Climate Hub (SERCH) can be a valuable resource in delivering timely and applicable climate information and tools. Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, on the campus of North Carolina State University, SERCH is led by the Forest Service. The mission is to increase the resilience of working lands – agriculture, forest, and grazing lands – to climate change and variability through adaptive management. SERCH assesses the vulnerability of key southeastern resources to climate changes; connects with Land Grant Universities, extension professionals, and other technical assistance providers to understand the needs of southeastern land managers; develops new or amends existing tools to support the emerging climate needs of land managers; and delivers climate-smart information through established networks. Read more »