NRCS Chief Jason Weller spoke at an event yesterday hosted by Ducks Unlimited and the USA Rice Federation. Chief Weller celebrated the good work of rice farmers who provide critical habitat for ducks and other migratory waterfowl. From L to R in the chairs: Betsy Ward, President and CEO of USA Rice; John Owen, Chairman of USA Rice Producers’ Group; George Dunklin, President of Ducks Unlimited; Dale Hall, CEO of Ducks Unlimited; and Dr. Mark Petrie, report author and Director of Conservation Planning at Ducks Unlimited. USDA photo by Tom Witham.
Rice is not just for people but for the birds, too. And a new report underlines the value of rice fields as habitat for migratory birds and other waterfowl.
The working rice lands report, released this week by Ducks Unlimited and the USA Rice Federation, shows that replacing rice fields with restored wetlands would cost an estimated $3.5 billion. Plus, a large amount of food available to migratory birds during winter comes from rice fields: 44 percent in California’s Central Valley and 42 percent along the Gulf of Mexico coast.
Jason Weller, chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, (NRCS) joined the two partners for the report’s unveiling today, noting the important relationship the agency has with both groups as well as American farmers. Read more »
Until recently, there was no readily-available public data showing the entry points of U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico, modes of transportation, or how product were used at their final destination. Now, a USDA partnership with Texas A&M scientists provides insight into the movement of products from the U.S. to Mexico. Photo by Michael Matalis.
Driving down a rural road, admiring the expansive fields of corn and soybeans, I stopped at a rail crossing to wait for what seemed like an endless train of cars filled with grain. My idle mind wondered, where are all those tons of grain headed, where was its final destination? For anyone else, it may just be curiosity. But for me and those who work in my division within USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), it’s our job to answer those questions.
We understand that for stakeholders within the agricultural industry—farmers, grain mill operators, shippers and exporters—the answers are critical. Sound business decisions require knowledge about what is happening with the transportation of agricultural products, both in the domestic and international marketplace. Read more »
Under Secretary Ed Avalos (left) listens to Carlos and Greg Chavez explain the ongoing effects of drought on farms in Texas. Greg, a next generation farmer, has worked to increase the sustainability and success of his family farm by implementing new technology and irrigation methods that decrease water consumption.
Not everyone goes to work every day knowing that they will be inspired by the people they meet—I’m very fortunate in that way. From the federal agencies that I oversee to the farmers and ranchers I visit with, I am truly inspired by their dedication to serving the American people and their commitment to the success of rural America. And many of the issues that they work on or face in their daily lives are the same issues that we are all concerned with—sustainability and conservation, short-term and long-term stability, and making sure our children and the next generation have paths to success.
During a recent visit to the Texas Panhandle, I stopped to have breakfast and visit with the father and son team who run the Chavez family farm. Carlos and Greg Chavez farm 3,600 acres of corn, wheat and cotton, and run 1,200 head of cattle on winter wheat. Greg, the son, has focused his attention on implementing new crop watering techniques, leveraging technology and conservation practices to combat the inherent dryness brought on by the strong Panhandle winds. Read more »
During the month of April we will take a closer look at USDA’s Groundbreaking Research for a Revitalized Rural America, highlighting ways USDA researchers are improving the lives of Americans in ways you might never imagine, including research into trees that could fuel new energy solutions.
A team of researchers led by the University of California–Davis has mapped the complete genome of the loblolly pine. And if you don’t think that understanding the genetic makeup of loblolly pine is a big deal, perhaps you cannot see the forest for the trees.
Loblolly pine, the most commercially important tree in the United States, is the source of most paper products in this country and 58 percent of timber. On the surface, that might be reason enough for the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to invest $14.6 million in 2011 toward science that could increase the productivity and health of American forests. Read more »
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden looks over olive blooms with Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard owner Sandy Winokur in Elemendorf, TX on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. USDA photo by Melissa Blair.
During this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama laid out an important call to action for our country:
“This year let’s all come together, Congress, the White House, businesses from Wall Street to Main Street, to give every woman the opportunity she deserves, because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds.”
As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I would like to call attention to the remarkable work of women of agriculture. Not only are women the heart of many family farming operations across the country, women are starting and growing their own agricultural businesses– creating opportunity and economic growth for their families and in their local communities. Read more »
U.S. Forest Service employees Michael Sowell (right) and Lanton Chumley plan where to locate hunter blinds. The goal is to ensure sites are accessible to accommodate hunters with varying disabilities. (U.S. Forest Service/Mandy Chumley)
For some people with physical limitations, being able to participate in hunting season is a distant memory. But thanks to the Angelina and Sabine national forests employees and retired agency volunteers in East Texas, a group of local hunters have an opportunity to create new memories each December as part of an annual two-day hunt.
“For the past five years, we’ve enjoyed being a part of the Angelina Wheelin’ Sportsman hunt for deer and hogs,” said Jason Engle, a district wildlife biologist for the Angelina National Forest who leads the event planning efforts for the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas. “We want to ensure these eager hunters enjoy a great hunting experience, and we’re here to help them enjoy their national forests.” Read more »