This 12-acre constructed wetland provides wildlife habitat for migrating waterfowl and a nesting area for animals.
Editor’s Note: As USDA shares stories of program accomplishments from across the country, Secretary Vilsack continues to remind Americans of the importance of the Farm Bill to many of these efforts. The success of the Wetlands Reserve Program in Iowa and across the nation is another reminder of the importance of Farm Bill programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy – and Secretary Vilsack continues to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible.
A unique wetland in northeastern Iowa is helping to filter out upland sediment and other agricultural runoff flowing into the Little Cedar River. The wetland, on a farm outside Charles City, is also preserving the land and providing a wildlife haven.
In 2009, landowner Carol Savage enrolled about 70 percent of the 200-acre farm in a permanent easement through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Wetlands Reserve Program, in the process expanding an already-present wetland on the property. Read more »
Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse (center) with Native American FFA Students: Hannah Nichols (left), Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana and Jessica Wahnee (Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Okla.) (right). USDA photo: Bob Nichols.
The future of America is entirely about its youth. According to figures provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sixty percent of the farmers in this country are 55 years old or older. Will the next generation take over for their parents and accept a rural lifestyle? What options are available for promising students, many of them minorities, living in economically challenged rural areas?
Last week, USDA welcomed two Native American members of the National FFA organization to the Agriculture Department for meetings with Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse, Arthur “Butch” Blazer, Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, and representatives of the USDA Office of Tribal Relations (OTR), including Director Leslie Wheelock. FFA members Hannah Nichols (Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana) of Elton, La. and Jessica Wahnee (Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Okla.) of Morris, Okla. were in the capital for the FFA Washington Leadership Conference (WLC) and were accompanied by Kent Schescke, director of government and non-profit relations for the National FFA. Read more »
Last month, I joined Secretary Vilsack in announcing National Small Business Week on behalf of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Louisiana. In support of rural small businesses, USDA announced several funding opportunities across the country for business owners to increase their capacity to hire new workers and expand their businesses. Small Businesses are the lifeblood of every community, but in a rural town one small business can mean the difference between a thriving main street and empty windows. This is why the work that USDA does on behalf of rural America is so important.
The state office for Rural Development is located in Central Louisiana where I met State Director Clarence Hawkins and his staff before we headed out to visit local businesses. The first stop was Consolidated Energy Holdings in Pollock. A variety of waste sources is produced by the company. Later, I had the opportunity to speak at the Cenla Small Business Appreciation Luncheon at the Central Louisiana Business Incubator in Alexandria. I was so inspired by the business incubator, which the city started as a workforce training facility for those with the desire to grow and expand their businesses. The incubator provides business owners with growth strategies, financing options, resources, and administrative support to name a few. There is an industrial kitchen available to use for food based business opportunities and specialty food producers. This incubator is the epitome of what small communities across rural America should be doing, making investments in their own citizens to foster job growth. Read more »
Across the United States, the potential to use homegrown crops in new ways holds tremendous promise to revitalize the rural economy. Innovators across the country – from small businesses to global companies – are creating amazing new biobased products that we use every day. Everything from cleaning products to packaging materials are now made from crops grown right here at home by America’s farmers.
In recent years, USDA has taken steps to support these efforts through the “BioPreferred” program, designed to help companies market biobased products. Additionally, under President Obama, the Federal government has prioritized these biobased products for procurement and use. Read more »
This week, folks across the nation have come together with family and friends to celebrate America’s independence – and millions are enjoying the great outdoors.
That’s why this is an appropriate time to remember that we must protect America’s natural treasures for generations to come. A changing climate poses new threats to this goal – from an increased risk of severe wildfire, to more intense storms, to worse problems from invasive pests. Read more »
Getting a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill passed this year is essential – and it can’t fall victim to politics as usual. Too much is at stake, and too many people lose out if Congress can’t act. Here are 10 good reasons why Congress must take action as soon as possible to achieve passage of a Farm Bill this year:
1. America’s farmers, ranchers and producers need certainty about the next five years of U.S. farm policy, to continue the recent momentum of the U.S. agricultural economy and rising farm income. Read more »