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 profile.
Organic agriculture is proving itself to be a veritable cornucopia, according to the results of the first-ever report on certified USDA organic production, which we released earlier this month. While the number of organic farms is a fraction of its conventional counterpart, an organically produced version of virtually every crop or animal product is now available in the United States.
This was the first time the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducted this survey, which means that we cannot see trends yet, but we can already easily see some of the impacts of organic production in the United States. From four farms in Alabama, Alaska or Delaware to 1,898 farms in California, every state in the nation is now home to USDA-certified organic producers. And while these farmers make up less than a half of one percent of all U.S. farmers, they already sell more than $3.5 billion worth of agricultural products. Read more »
Indiana State Office staff members of Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, Rural Development, and the Risk Management Agency gathered in Indianapolis earlier this week to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Department of Agriculture.
Following a luncheon, “Women in Agriculture and Natural Resources,” Indiana Lt. Governor Becky Skillman congratulated USDA attendees for their ongoing efforts and dedication to Indiana’s rural communities. Additionally, Skillman presented a Proclamation from Governor Mitch Daniels which declared May 15, 2012, as “United States Department of Agriculture Day” in the State of Indiana. Read more »
Pacific Northwest diversified crop and livestock producers now have a valuable online tool to help them better evaluate whole-farm insurance protection. AGR-Lite is a federally subsidized, whole-farm revenue protection package and is available through private crop insurance agents in 38 states. The tool will allow farmers to explore their eligibility to estimate premium costs specific to their farms, consider various future loss scenarios and print reports to assist in their insurance options. USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) funded a partnership between the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and Montana Tech of the University of Montana to develop AGR-Lite.
The tool uses a producer’s 5-year historical IRS farm income information and an annual farm report as a base to provide a level of guaranteed revenue for the insurance period. It also provides insurance coverage for multiple agriculture commodities in one insurance product and provides maximum liability coverage of $1 million. Read more »
A stop during my recent visit to Ohio was the historic North Market located in downtown Columbus.
The North Market successfully addresses the needs of small and local businesses for retail space, and provides local, healthy and sustainably grown and processed food for consumers. Over one million customers annually have the opportunity to sample and purchase a tremendous array of local products including fruits and vegetables, meats, baked goods, ethnic foods, seafood, wines, ice cream and many other products. Read more »
Dr. Shirley Heymon-Parker and Dr. Ralph Nobel at at the North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University in Greensboro, NC
Throughout the country, many schools and communities are teaching the importance of environmental stewardship, energy conservation, and reducing waste through innovation and creativity. I came across one of these places recently at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University in Greensboro, NC, the nation’s largest Historically Black College. Their School of Agriculture and Environmental Science has embraced the Obama Administration’s commitment to protecting the air we breathe, water quality, and land that supports and sustains us. Read more »
As Associate Administrator of USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), one of my duties is to lead all-employee meetings with the Agency’s field offices across the country. During my travel, I often visit local projects and success stories in agriculture that have connections with USDA projects. Recently, I visited one of RMA’s outreach partners in Raleigh, North Carolina— the Longview School and Inter-faith Food Shuttle.
RMA is funding this unique urban agriculture project through a current partnership agreement with the North Carolina Farm Transition Network. The project, in coordination with Patrick Faulkner, Longview FFA Chapter, and Sun Butler of Inter-faith Food Shuttle, provides hands-on training for students and the community on managing risks associated with gardening and horticulture, improving health, building collaborations, reducing hunger, and potentially, enhancing career skills related to the local food system and the food value chain. As a part of this project, Mr. Faulkner has taken students to on two field trips for educational purposes: A national workshop on growing food at Growing Power in Milwaukee, Wis., with Will Allen, and a trip to Washington, D.C., for the National FFA Leadership Conference. Read more »