There are a wide range of important reasons why rural America needs passage of a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible. One of the most pressing is to grow the rural economy in a way that creates new jobs and reverses the troubling decline in population that we’ve seen recently in America’s small towns.
This week, USDA’s Economic Research Service released its annual report on the economic condition of rural America – the 2013 Rural America at a Glance report. The data in this report underscores the challenges of stagnant job growth and persistent poverty faced by many communities across rural America. Read more »
NRCS Supervisory District Conservationist Priscilla Williamson (left) worked with Charles McLaurin (right) to remove invasive grasses and install cross fencing, improving water quality downstream. NRCS photo.
Raising hay and working the farm was once something extra for Charles McLaurin. After retiring after 35 years as a school teacher, he’s enjoying his new full-time job as a cattle rancher in Leake County, Miss., where he not only leads a healthy head of cattle but also serves as a steward of natural resources.
With the help of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), he is using conservation to improve his operations and help the environment, including the Pearl River and Gulf of Mexico, where the water from his farm eventually flows.
McLaurin qualified for financial assistance through StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative as a beginning and limited resource rancher. The initiative addresses high-priority funding needs in rural communities in 16 states, including Mississippi. Read more »
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has published a notice in the Federal Register asking the public to comment on how agricultural coexistence in the United States can be strengthened. Comments are due by January 3, 2014.
U.S. farmers in the 21st Century engage in many forms of agriculture, including conventional, organic, identity-preserved, and genetically engineered (GE) crop production. USDA is unequivocal in its supports for all these forms of agriculture. We need all of them to meet our country’s collective needs for food security, energy production, carbon offsets and the economic sustainability of rural communities. Our goal is to promote the coexistence of all these approaches through cooperation and science-based stewardship practices. Read more »
While rural Americans have already waited too long for passage of a new Food, Farm and Jobs bill, this week brought a promising new development. Conferees from the Senate and House met to begin work on the creation of a bipartisan, long-term Farm Bill. Their work could not be more timely – and they are in the spotlight now more than ever before.
The Farm Bill is crucial to America’s farmers, ranchers and producers. It provides a necessary safety net for producers centered around a strong crop insurance program and a dependable set of disaster assistance programs. The last two years of drought and other weather-related disasters underscores how important that safety net is to keeping producers in business.
The Farm Bill’s importance extends beyond the farm safety net. Read more »
A Missouri Coteau wetland near Bismarck, N.D., in the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region. Credit: Jim Ringelman, Ducks Unlimited, used with permission.
The Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana provides sanctuary to millions of nesting waterfowl each summer. With an innovative partnership led by Ducks Unlimited (DU), USDA is helping to provide new opportunities for agricultural producers in the region to sequester carbon while cultivating new revenue streams.
With the help of a grant from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, these partners have created a carbon credit system for private landowners in North Dakota who agree to avoid tillage of grasslands. Grasslands store carbon dioxide, one of the leading greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.
The North Dakota Prairie Pothole project, funded by a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) of $161,000, provides potential new revenue streams for landowners while avoiding greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon sequestration. Read more »
Michael Scuse, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, listens to those impacted by the Atlas Blizzard in South Dakota.
Farmers and ranchers know many variables are sometimes not in their hands, especially when it comes to weather. That’s why USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Senator Tim Johnson asked me to travel to South Dakota this week to see firsthand the widespread destruction to livestock in the wake of the Atlas Blizzard, and to consult with affected producers on how USDA can help right now – - despite two years of Congressional inaction on the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.
When I joined one farmer in his living room, learning how his livestock losses, including pregnant stock, meant years of income gone, I thought of Congress, how it lurches from one crisis to the next, and how that legislative atrophy creates real consequences beyond just American farmers but for entire rural communities. Read more »