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Posts tagged: Oklahoma

Southern Plains Climate Hub Seeks to Address Three Huge Problems

Corn shows the affect of drought in Texas on Aug. 20, 2013. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

Corn shows the affect of drought in Texas on Aug. 20, 2013. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

I am a research scientist, by nature, training, and now more than 30 years of experience.  I hold degrees in Physics, Atmospheric Sciences, Meteorology, and have done research in many sub-specialties of the last two, including climate science.  My curiosity about the natural world never slows down, and I am not intimidated by difficult problems.  But the research I’ve been doing since 1999 has been the most challenging:  how do we transform what we know about weather, weather variability, climate, and climate change into practical advice for farmers and ranchers?  This is not just one problem in my mind, but three.  Three huge gnarly problems, each close to intractable.  But these new USDA Climate Hubs are an opportunity to make progress on all three.  What follows are thumbnails of the three problems I have in mind, and then briefly how I see the Climate Hubs providing a handle on them. Read more »

The Faces of Agriculture – A Glimpse of What the Farm Bill Means to Our Nation

Under Secretary Edward Avalos and John Lyman III, owner of Lyman Orchards, tour the orchard’s Apple Barrel Market in Middlefield, CT.  A Farm Bill is crucial to the long-term stability of family-owned farms and orchards.

Under Secretary Edward Avalos and John Lyman III, owner of Lyman Orchards, tour the orchard’s Apple Barrel Market in Middlefield, CT. A Farm Bill is crucial to the long-term stability of family-owned farms and orchards.

A life of farming—whether you grow up in it or are called to it later in life—takes a special kind of commitment and sense of responsibility. The reward is just as unique and appeals only to a handful of people who are willing to literally roll up their sleeves and work hard at a physically- and mentally-challenging job every day of the year. To me, there’s just something special about a profession where the fruits of your labor provide one of life’s most essential elements–food.

But that’s not where their contributions stop. Our nation’s farmers and ranchers strengthen our economy, with nearly one out of 12 jobs in the U.S. coming from agriculture.

Over the last year, I had the opportunity to visit and speak to farmers and ranchers across the country. During these visits, I get a chance to see first-hand how connected they are to their communities and the differences they make for the folks that live and work with them. And I also get to answer their questions directly, to hear the challenges they face and the help they could use. Inevitably, conversation turns to the Food, Farm, and Jobs Bill and what that legislation would mean to each of the farmers, ranchers, businesses and schools that depend on it. Read more »

USDA Funding Provides a Broadband Lift to Part of Rural Oklahoma

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.

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 »

Secretary’s Column: Energy Efficiency and the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced more than 630 new projects across the country under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).  These new projects will help producers and businesses boost their bottom line, while increasing America’s energy security and protecting our environment.

Energy efficiency programs are a key part of the President’s overall plan to mitigate the impacts of a changing climate, while building our renewable energy capacity to support an all-of-the-above approach to America’s energy future.

Under the Obama Administration, USDA has used this program to support more than 7,000 energy efficiency projects. Many of these provided assistance on small and medium-sized farm and ranches, or in rural businesses. Read more »

Back to Healthy School Meals: USDA Congratulates Six States for Nearly 100% of Schools Meeting New Meal Standards

School cafeterias across the country are at the heart of offering great nutrition for our kids.

School cafeterias across the country are at the heart of offering great nutrition for our kids.

As we continue to combat childhood obesity in America, I am proud to say that this Back to School season our school cafeterias are at the heart of offering great nutrition for our kids. Students and schools are embracing the healthier lunches offered through the National School Lunch Program that, together with the healthier breakfasts offered through the School Breakfast Program beginning this school year and the recently announced “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards that kick in next year, continue our children on the path towards future health and happiness.

So how are school cafeterias faring with all the meal updates across the nation? Like I said, they are putting their hearts into it. Read more »

NIFA Grant Addresses Climate Issues Related to Beef Cattle Production

Today, I am on the campus of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. When I visit universities across the nation, I look forward to meeting with faculty and students to hear about the work they are doing. On this particular visit, I am excited to meet with a research team working on an issue important to all Americans: climate.

As most people are well aware, last year’s drought put tremendous stress on cattle across the nation, especially in the Southern Great Plains. Drought, along with other extreme weather events and climate patterns, threatens food production across the nation. The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has provided grant funds to land-grant universities across our nation to develop approaches to mitigate or adapt to the impact of climate change on food production. Earlier this year, NIFA awarded more than $9 million in funding to Oklahoma State University (OSU) to address the vulnerabilities of beef cattle under stress from climate variations. OSU’s goal is to safeguard regional beef production against climate change while mitigating the environmental footprint of agriculture. Read more »