This blog was cross-posted on the Chicago Council’s Global Food for Thought blog.
Farmers, ranchers and foresters have long understood the need to care for our land and water. We depend on them for food, clothing and shelter – and they depend on our natural resources for their livelihoods.
The conversation about global food security rightly focuses on the most pressing issues of access, nutritional value, food safety, and productivity. Conservation and resource use are intrinsically tied to each of these challenges, but are not always a focal point. Read more »
At the end of 2014, there were a record 19,474 certified organic producers in the United States and 27,814 certified organic operations around the world.
This is the twenty-fourth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.
Across the country, more and more people are looking for organic options at their local markets. Thanks to the remarkable growth in the number of domestic and international certified organic operations, Americans now have more choices than ever.
In fact, according to data released today by my agency, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), there were 19,474 certified organic producers in the United States and 27,814 certified organic operations around the world at the end of 2014. In just one year, the number of U.S. certified organic operations increased by more than 5 percent. And since the count began in 2002, the number of domestic organic operations has increased by over 250 percent. You can access the full list of certified operations at http://apps.ams.usda.gov/nop/ or download the list in Excel format going back to 2010. Read more »
Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 saw the United States once again make significant gains in the international trade as USDA expanded opportunities for American producers overseas. In FY14 American farmers and ranchers exported a record $152.5 billion of food and agricultural goods to consumers worldwide, an $11.6 billion increase over FY13’s figures.
USDA plays a key role in fostering American agricultural exports by opening new markets for our producers and ensuring their products meet foreign requirements for import. As a result of these efforts, U.S. agricultural exports now drive overall U.S. economic growth by supporting nearly 1 million American jobs on and off the farm. These trade efforts also contribute to a strong rural economy, which is critical to the overall economic health of the United States. Read more »
Agriculture is blooming in the Sunflower State! Be sure to check back next week for more highlights from another state and the 2012 Census of Agriculture.
The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.
The Kansas state seal and state flag both feature a farmer, and looking at the results of the most recent Census of Agriculture, it is not hard to see why. In 2012, the year for which the Census was conducted, there were almost 62,000 farms covering more than 46 million acres of land in Kansas. That year Kansas producers sold close to $18.5 billion worth of agricultural products.
Crops have long been a symbol of Kansas farming. According to the Census, in 2012 Kansans produced almost 360 million bushels of winter wheat from more than 9 million harvested acres. More than 20 percent of all winter wheat in the U.S. that year came from Kansas – more than double both the acreage and production of Oklahoma which was the second-largest winter wheat producer in the nation. Read more »
Testing can provide the vital information needed when deciding what cover crop seed to purchase. Pictured here is AMS Botanist Elizabeth Tatum identifying a weed seed. (AMS photo)
Cover crops are the real heroes in the world of agriculture. Their job starts after a field is harvested and ends just before the next season’s crop is planted. Expectations for cover crops are high because if they don’t produce, the next crop may suffer.
After crops are harvested each year, planting fields are left bare. Runoff from rainwater, wind, and other forms of erosion devastate planting fields by stripping essential nutrients from the soil – nutrients needed for the next growing season. In addition to the loss of vital nutrients, the exposed fields are prime real estate for noxious-weed seeds intent on stealing what is left of the field’s nutrients. Replacing the lost nutrients and removing the weedy invaders costs millions of dollars each year for farmers. Read more »
Along with growing and selling commercial hay to supplement his income, Ken Sills also spends his time raising and racing pigeons. Sills shares a photo of himself as a kid alongside his dad. NRCS photo.
Ken Sills has had difficulties getting water to his hayfields for years, impacting his ability to use his Grand Junction, Colorado land efficiently.
“I just couldn’t get irrigation to the back of my place,” Sills said. “I tried a ditch and siphon tubes, but there were areas that were not getting water, so that’s when I went to the NRCS.”
In his quest for help, he found USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and staff there helped him install an efficient irrigation system. The system included an above-ground conveyance system, gated piping and a small concrete distribution structure that now provides irrigation water to about five acres of grass hay. Read more »