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conservation reserve program

Conservation Program Benefits an Iconic Bird of the Southern Great Plains

The lesser prairie-chicken and its habitat are making a comeback thanks to a USDA conservation program. The ground-dwelling bird was once abundant in the southern Great Plains, living in parts of Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. But over the past 150 years due to human migration and settlement, the lesser prairie-chicken population has declined by more than 90 percent, and its range has shrunk by over 80 percent.

Conservation Tools Help Producers Make Positive Impacts on Changing Climate

America’s farmers and ranchers are helping put the nation on track to a healthier and more resilient environment in the face of a changing climate. While agriculture only contributes 9 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, it offers a variety of opportunities to reduce emissions and cut carbon from the atmosphere. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is committed to help producers become even better conservation stewards by providing the tools they need to do the job.

Boosting Bee Health…Naturally

Everyone wants healthy, thriving honey bee colonies. One-third of the food we eat requires pollinators, and commercial beekeepers transport honey bees hundreds of miles each year to pollinate almond trees and other crops.

USDA Continues to Implement Program Changes to Benefit Farmers

Earlier this week, I was honored to meet with members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters here at USDA headquarters. These women and men, many with decades of broadcasting and farm experience, are among the familiar voices, faces and bylines we hear and see each day through radio, television, newsletters, and social media across America.

Growth and Opportunity in the Organic Sector

Since USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) implemented the organic regulations in 2002, the U.S. organic sector has tripled in size to over 22,000 certified organic operations with over $43 billion in U.S. retail sales.  Demand for organic products is expected to continue growing.  This strong consumer demand outruns supply, providing market opportunities within the organic sector.

USDA offers many resources for organic producers and businesses – including organic certification cost share assistance, organic price reporting, conservation programs, and so much more – to facilitate growth within the organic sector. We also provide assistance to producers transitioning to organic production, and work to facilitate international trade.

Ranchers Using NRCS Conservation Practices Boost Prairie Chicken Occupancy

Habitat conservation practices make a difference for lesser prairie-chickens. That's the finding of a recent scientific study – the first part of a multi-year study – described in a new report from the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative (LPCI).

LPCI, led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), works with partner organizations and ranchers to improve habitat and address threats to the bird. Since 2010, more than 1 million acres of habitat have been restored on working lands.

FSA Administrator Cooks and Connects to FSA Programs

During my travels to 46 states over the past two years, I’ve explored Illinois cornfields, watched an oyster harvest in Connecticut, and admired beet fields in North Dakota. I’ve toured a rooftop farm on a Brooklyn high-rise, and marveled at fresh vegetables grown in truck containers in the remote Alaskan Arctic.

These are the places where it all begins, so that Americans have safe and affordable food, from the farm to the plate.

So when local author and chef Jonathan Bardzik invited me to the USDA cafeteria for a lunch-hour cooking demonstration, I grabbed my apron and joined him as his “Sous Chef for the Day.”

Ohio Farmer Continues Life-Long Drive to Improve Environment

Since she was a teenager some 60 years ago, Gail Dunlap has played an active role in her family’s seventh generation Ohio farming operation by focusing on ways to continually improve conservation practices and establish a natural and sustainable way of life.

“Back then, we were not that many years past the Dust Bowl times and farmers in the area were doing a wonderful job of resting the soil with long rotations,” said Dunlap. “I remember even the weeds seemed to be as beautiful as wildflowers.”

USDA Conservation Program Keeping Puerto Rico Water Sources Clean

Moises Velez-Santiago understands the important role farming can play in protecting water quality for Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million residents.  He’s been farming on the island nearly three decades.

Through the USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Velez-Santiago has strived to obtain a balance of environmental conservation and crop production.