Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaking at a press conference in Fairfax, VA. USDA photo by David Kosling.
USDA has a long history of helping farmers, ranchers and forest landowners maintain their bottom line while improving soil health and reducing runoff into streams and rivers. For nearly 80 years, USDA has offered funding and technical assistance for farmers to implement conservation practices through the conservation title of the Farm Bill. In recent years, however, USDA has also supported new, innovative approaches to voluntary, private lands conservation.
An announcement today by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, and Administrator Gina McCarthy of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in northern Virginia highlights an innovative approach called water quality trading. Farmers like John Harrison of Appomattox County are taking advantage of private investments to implement conservation practices on their land. These practices help reduce erosion and nutrient runoff into local bodies of water, generating nutrient credits that can then be sold to regulated entities looking to offset nutrient losses for compliance purposes. Read more »
Shiela Corley is a statistician now, but her farming roots are deep. Corley's family has been farming for generations now and even today, her parents run a farm in her native Kentucky. Photo Credit: Shiela Corley
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
Farmland is one of the biggest assets in U.S. agriculture. According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, American farmers own more than half of all U.S. farmland—however, more than 350 million acres are rented or leased. This means that hundreds of thousands of farmers are affected by rising farmland values and have to negotiate their land rental agreements regularly.
That’s where data comes in. Every year, we reach out to thousands of farmers across the nation to determine accurate estimates for farmland values. After all, to negotiate a fair deal, it helps to know the actual value of the land you already rent or hope to rent in the future. That’s also how we at USDA and other key policymakers know that U.S. farmland values have been increasing pretty steadily over the past decade. Read more »
American Indian operators run more than half of all farms in AZ, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Check back next week for another close-up of another state’s agriculture scene from the 2012 Census.
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.
For decades, school children in Arizona have been taught the five Cs: Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus, and Climate. These five C’s have been the driving force behind Arizona’s economy, and gave economic security to past generations and hope to many generations. However, all that is changing. Arizona, like the rest of the country, is undergoing an economic transformation. Arizona is moving from a mining and agriculturally oriented economy, to a high-technology and service-based economy. This is changing the patterns of where Arizonans live and work.
Three of Arizona’s Cs – cattle, cotton, and citrus – were counted in the most recent Census of Agriculture and the results showed that they are still economically significant. The value of cattle, cotton and citrus production that was sold in 2012 totaled nearly $940 million, excluding the more than $760 million in milk sales. Total market value of all agricultural products sold topped $3.7 billion. Read more »
Thanksgiving is a celebration of the harvest and the abundance of food we are able to share with our friends and family. This Thanksgiving, take a moment to thank the farmers and ranchers who make our nation’s agricultural abundance possible. Without them, the safe, abundant and affordable food we’ll put on our tables at Thanksgiving would not be possible.
At the same time, this Thanksgiving, it is important to remember those less fortunate. Many people will donate time, food or other resources to a food bank to brighten the holiday for families in their communities, and I am proud to say that many USDA employees are among them. I am also proud that through our People’s Garden Initiative, we’ve been able to donate 3.9 million pounds of fresh produce to food banks across the country over the last few years. Read more »
A grass fire burns across eastern Washington.
Land begins to recover one year after emergency reseeding following the Los Alamos fires in New Mexico. Some of the species planted for erosion control and habitat improvement were prairie junegrass, slender wheatgrass, mountain brome, three awn, gambel's oak and mountain mahogany.
Traveling at speeds up to 14 mph, wildfires can quickly ravish landscapes and homesteads. Experts with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, (NRCS) are studying what plants can slow fire rather than fuel it.
NRCS’ Plant Materials Centers evaluate and study plants, including those that can reduce fire damage or losses, helping keep people, property and natural resources safe. These centers, located across the United States, can provide information on the type plant best suited for an area given factors such as geography and climate. Read more »
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addresses dairy producers at the National Milk Producers Federation annual meeting in Dallas, Texas on Oct. 29, 2014
Over the past nine months, USDA staff in offices around the country have been hard at work implementing new initiatives under the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Service Agency in particular has been tasked with getting a number of new safety net features off the ground for farmers and ranchers, including the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs. Because these new programs are important to farmers’ and ranchers’ businesses, USDA also wants to make sure plenty of time and tools are available to help farmers and ranchers make the best decisions for their operations.
Last week, Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that America’s milk producers have an extra week to enroll in the voluntary Dairy Margin Protection Program. The program provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer. The original sign up deadline was November 28, 2014, the day after Thanksgiving. The deadline has been moved to December 5, 2014, which allows both FSA staff and dairy producers to spend more time with their families over the holiday. Read more »