This week, USDA and its partners released the results of the eight annual national survey of honey bee losses. The survey shows good news—fewer honey bee colonies were lost this winter than in previous years. According to survey results, total losses of managed honey bee colonies from all causes were 23.2 percent nationwide.
That figure is a significant improvement over the 30.5 percent loss reported last winter, but it is still higher than the eight-year average loss of 29.6 percent and still far above the 18.9 percent level of loss that beekeepers say is acceptable for their economic sustainability.
While we’re pleased to see improvement this year, these losses are still too high. Read more »
(From left to right) Dan Whetham, FSA district director, Scuse, Rausch and Della Meder discuss the hardships faced by ranchers who were hit by the Atlas blizzard.
This post is part of a disaster assistance program feature series on the USDA blog. Check back every Wednesday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
Richard and Susan Rausch lost nearly 70 percent of their cow-calf operation when Winter Storm Atlas dumped three feet of snow on the western part of South Dakota, killing thousands of cattle across the region. The Rausch’s 300-head of cattle dwindled down to about 90.
“You just can’t put into words what the devastation was like following the blizzard,” said Richard. “The roads were closed from snow drifts, but once we were able to get out with the tractor, there was dead livestock wherever you went. Our neighbor’s livestock was found dead in our yard and our cattle took cover in rough country at the start of the blizzard and they ended up drifting five to six miles away.” Read more »
Agriculture Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Service (FFAS) Michael Scuse (left) speaks to farmers about the drought conditions being felt across the country.
This is the final post of a Microloan Success feature series on the USDA blog. To see previous blogs, go to the Microloan Success feature series.
I’ve got one of the best jobs in the country, hands down. As Under Secretary for the Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, I get to meet with – and talk to – farmers and ranchers across America every day. These hard working men and women, and their families are the backbone of U.S. agriculture. Their dedication and commitment inspire me.
It’s an honor to be able to service these agricultural heroes through the programs we offer at the Farm Service Agency (FSA). When severe weather devastates our nation’s cropland, FSA is there helping producers recover. Read more »
The Fort Pierre National Grassland is home to a series of spiders previously unknown. A new species, Theridion pierre (Levi & Patrick 2013) is part of the cobweb family of spiders, Theridiidae, the fifth largest family of spiders which boasts 2387 currently recognized species (Platnick 2014). This 1 millimeter spider – about the size of a lead pencil point – is relatively abundant and easily caught on the grasslands. (Photo courtesy of Patrick Brian)
When a new species is discovered on the planet, people usually imagine a discovery process that is dangerous and remote in location. However, one scientist didn’t have to venture far from home to learn about a few new discoveries that has the science community spinning about a native grassland ecosystem in South Dakota.
Arachnid hunter Brian Patrick, an assistant professor of biology at Dakota Wesleyan University, is looking for creatures that are usually overlooked in the grasslands, and his work is making a mark in the scientific world. With help from partners like the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks and the University of South Dakota Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network, Patrick works with the Nebraska National Forest to conduct research on arachnids on the Fort Pierre National Grassland. Read more »
David Hoff left his job to return to the farm and help his father. The Microloan helped Hoff acquire operating inputs when other lenders wouldn’t take a chance on him.
This post is part of a Microloan Success feature series on the USDA blog. Check back every Tuesday and Thursday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
For David Hoff, farming was in his blood. It had been 14 years since he worked on his family’s South Dakota farm. He went off to college, earned a degree in business, landed a position in sales and, over the next 10 years, held leadership positions in sales for several companies. But he had been thinking long and hard about returning to the 2,000 acre farm and rejoining the family operation.
Then in 2012, Hoff received the sad news of his uncle’s death. His uncle had farmed with Hoff’s father in Hutchinson County, S.D. for years. That’s when Hoff decided to return and help his father with the farm.
“This was a big change for us. I was used to bringing home a paycheck every two weeks and now that was going to change in a big way,” said Hoff. “There are no guarantees in farming and you can’t write down what you are going to make each year. My wife likes to have a clear plan and that was a challenge for her to overcome.” Read more »
Young soybean plants thrive in the residue of a wheat crop. This form of no till farming provides good protection for the soil from erosion and helps retain moisture for the new crop. NRCS photo.
How can farmers reduce their fertilizer costs, maintain yields, reduce their environmental impacts, and take advantage of a new and emerging source of income? A project funded by a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant is showing how.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service awarded a CIG grant in 2011 to the Delta Institute to develop an innovative opportunity for farmers to receive greenhouse gas emissions reductions payments from the voluntary implementation of more efficient nitrogen fertilizer management techniques.
The Delta Institute engaged a variety of partners in the project, including American Farmland Trust, Conservation Technology Information Center, Environmental Defense Fund and agricultural retailers. Read more »