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 »
Brewer’s sparrow and green-tailed towhee numbers climbed significantly where sagebrush habitat was restored. Gray flycatcher, a songbird that prefers a mix of conifers and sagebrush, saw declines when sagebrush habitat was restored. (Click to enlarge)
The Natural Resources Conservation Service works with ranchers and partners to improve habitat for sage grouse with funding through the Sage Grouse Initiative. Focusing on privately-owned lands, the initiative covers the 11 Western state range of the bird. About 40 percent of the sage grouse dwell on private lands. David Naugle is a wildlife professor at the University of Montana and the science advisor for SGI, an NRCS-led partnership. —Tim Griffiths, NRCS
By David Naugle, Science Advisor, Sage Grouse Initiative
Restoring sagebrush ecosystems not only benefits ranching and sage grouse but other wildlife, too. New data show that populations of Brewer’s sparrow and green-tailed towhee, two sagebrush-dependent songbirds, climbed significantly in places where invading conifer trees were removed.
Three years after removing trees, Brewer’s sparrow numbers increased by 55 percent and green-tailed towhee numbers by 81 percent relative to areas not restored, according to a new report released by the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI). These two songbirds, both identified as species of conservation concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), serve as early indicators of the effectiveness of restoration work. Read more »
USDA’s revised guide, Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs can help schools find, buy and serve more regional offerings.
Fruits and vegetables are at the top of USDA’s back to school list, and just in time for the new school year, the Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables is making it easier for schools in eight states to purchase them. The 2014 Farm Bill authorizes the pilot in not more than eight states participating in the National School Lunch Program, and provides them with an opportunity to better access nutritious foods. The pilot also helps create and expand market opportunities for our nation’s fruit and vegetable producers, opening the door for a variety of vendors, small growers, food hubs and distributors to supply unprocessed fruits and vegetables to participating schools.
So far, five states (California, Connecticut, Michigan, New York and Oregon) have spent over $600,000 through the pilot from February through June 2015. Several California districts contracted a produce distributor to connect local and regional producers with schools to receive peaches, cauliflower, apricots, and kale from their state. Students in Oregon are chomping on pears from the Pacific Northwest, while many Connecticut and New York schools are feasting on Macintosh apples from Massachusetts orchards and Empire apples from New York. Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin were also selected for the pilot and will begin receiving deliveries of fruits and vegetables in the coming months. Read more »
Participants of the International Seminar on Forest Landscape Restoration on a field trip. Photo credit: US Forest Service
This blog post was co-authored with Aaron Reuben (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and Kathleen Buckingham (World Resources Institute).
Four billion acres of degraded and deforested land world-wide—an area the size of South America—could benefit from restoration. Restoration addresses our most pressing global challenges—from protecting biodiversity to providing food, energy and water, to offering security and economic opportunity for millions of people.
In the United States, a multitude of partners from all sectors, from the local to national level, initiated restoration on millions of acres of degraded land, but the United States cannot do it alone. Degradation is a global issue that requires a global response. This summer, landscape restoration professionals from 16 countries, representing government ministries, non-governmental organizations and private companies, gathered in Oregon to learn from the United States’ experience. Read more »
The term “farm to preschool” encompasses efforts to serve local or regionally produced foods in early child care and education settings; provide hands-on learning activities such as gardening, farm visits, and culinary activities; and integrate food-related education into the curriculum. Here, USDA Undersecretary of Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon participates in a hands-on lesson about local foods at a YMCA preschool in West Seattle, WA.
“May I have more kale chips, please?” asked a four-year old preschooler during one of my first site visits as farm to school lead for the Food and Nutrition Service’s Western Region. The preschoolers I was visiting grew and harvested the kale themselves a few feet beyond their classroom door and were enjoying the crisp treat as a snack. At the time, the USDA Farm to School Program was just beginning to expand their support to K-12 schools. Since then, I have worked with school districts in bringing the farm to their cafeterias and classrooms.
Our reasons for supporting farm to preschool are numerous. While the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 authorized the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to establish the Farm to School Program, the legislation also expanded the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to not only aid child care institutions in serving nutritious foods, but to contribute to their wellness, healthy growth and development. Farm to preschool meets that requirement, and is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a strategy to increase access to healthy environments. As evidenced by the eager kale chip request, farm to preschool efforts can set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating. Read more »
Gayle Goschie, a third generation Oregon farmer at Goschie Farms, Inc., stands in a hop yard at her farm in Silverton, Oregon. Goschie Farms was the first hop farm to be certified as Salmon-Safe, recognized for adopting practices that protect water quality and native salmon.
As part of our ongoing #womeninag series, we are highlighting a different leading woman in agriculture each month. This month, we profile Gayle Goschie, a third-generation hop grower on a farm her family has owned in Silverton, Oregon, for 130 years. Goschie Farms grows 550 acres of hops and sells to some of the nation’s top breweries. The farm also grows 150 acres of wine grapes that are sold to regional wineries and 300+ acres of other crops including grass seed, corn and wheat.
Gayle was the first woman hop grower to be awarded the International Order of the Hop in 2009, the highest honor in the International hop community and an award which her father also received in 1984. We talked about her love for the outdoors, including the beautiful hikes she takes in the Willamette Valley. She strongly believes in our responsibility to conserve and improve our lands not only as good business sense but critical to building future farm leaders. Read more »