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Spurring Agricultural Innovation Across the Nation

“He would often dream up new ideas and inventions that he would build in his shop and implement on his farm. Most all of them worked better than anything else available. He never faced a hill that he didn’t think could be flattened with a lot of hard work and determination, and he taught those around him to question the conventional wisdom and not be afraid to boldly seek new ways of doing things.” -from Leroy Isbell’s obituary in the Stuttgart Daily Leader, 2014

Chris Isbell didn't set out to make history. He was just following in his father's footsteps.

September: A Nice Time to Celebrate Rice Research

September is National Rice Month, and the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, Arkansas, is well positioned—literally and figuratively—to support the production, harvest, and public enjoyment of this versatile and nutritious grain. And on the world-food security front, ARS’ Stuttgart center is closing in on genes that regulate rice’s uptake and storage of iron, thiamine and other important vitamins and minerals—a pursuit that could bolster the nutritional value of this cereal grain crop as a staple food for roughly half the world’s population.

In the United States, nearly 85 percent of the rice eaten by consumers is grown on family-run farms across six States:  Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas. Of these, Arkansas produces about half of all U.S. rice on nearly 1.3 million acres of cropland.

Celebrate Whole Grains Month with Brown Rice, 5 Different Ways!

Did you know September is Whole Grains Month and National Rice Month? To help you fit whole grains into your menu this week, MyPlate is sharing five, easy-to-prepare recipes with brown rice as the star ingredient.

Almost all Americans are not eating enough whole grains. At least half of your grains should be whole grains. Whole grains provide more vitamins and minerals than refined grains because they are made from the entire grain seed. Eating more whole grains is easy to do! Try these recipes featuring brown rice five different ways to add more whole grains to your recipe repertoire:

Preserving "Heirloom" Collections - Microbial, That Is

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

As a plant pathologist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Rice Research Unit in Beaumont, Texas, Toni Marchetti oversaw a new program in 1972 to develop new cultivars that better resisted costly diseases like rice blast.  

Marchetti retired from ARS in 2001, leaving behind not only a legacy of excellence in rice breeding and plant pathology, but also a prized collection of 1,000 rice blast specimens he isolated from Texas, Arkansas, and other rice-growing states. The Beaumont unit was closed in 2012, and the collection was relocated to ARS’s Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, Arkansas.

USDA Conservation Innovation Grant Helps Rice Growers Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Voluntarily Participate in California's Carbon Market

Imagine a rice farmer in Arkansas altering his water management techniques to deliver water more efficiently and use fewer days of flooding, allowing for more precise water and nutrient management while maintaining consistent yields. After a decision by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), in addition to improving water quality and reducing water use and nutrient input costs, that Arkansas farmer now has the option of selling carbon credits to large regulated emitters in California.   

In 2012, California put in place a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions, one of the most aggressive climate change programs in the world. Last week’s groundbreaking vote by CARB adopted the first crop-based agricultural offset protocol, designed to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions from rice production. Methane and nitrous oxide are potent greenhouse gases emitted through the cultivation and fertilization of rice fields.

Catfish Continues to Swim to the Top of U.S. Aquaculture and Mississippi Agriculture

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

Mississippi, commonly called the “Magnolia State", has long been one of the most rural states in the United States. However, agriculture makes significant contributions to all of Mississippi’s 82 counties. Agriculture is a leading industry in Mississippi. According to the latest Census of Agriculture, our farmers generated $6.4 billion in market value of agricultural products sold in 2012, a 32 percent increase from the last census.

The census counted almost 11 million acres of farmland, down 5 percent from the 2007 Census. The average farm size increased to 287 acres, up 5 percent from 2007. The highest concentration of cropland is located in the Delta Area of the State.

Día de Reyes: A Time for Friends, Feasts, and Food Safety

Nothing brings people together like the Holidays, or Navidades for us Spanish speakers.  Día de Reyes (Three Kings Day) would not be complete without some excellent eats. Many Hispanic-Americans have a favorite dish during this special season – from lechón to pasteles to tamales to atole.

Nothing brings a party down like poor food safety though.  No one wants to be down for the count during this time of the year–think of all the parties that will be missed! With the information we’ve given you over the last several weeks, you should be able to cook a food safe feast.  So put your knowledge to the test with these Hispanic treats for Día de Reyes, this January 6th.

Rice Farmer Helps Migratory Birds, Cleans Water on Texas Coast

When 168,000 gallons of oil was reported to be spilled this spring into Texas’ Houston Ship Channel because of a collision between a barge and tanker, it was a reminder of the vulnerability of the Gulf of Mexico’s coastal wildlife and habitats.

The spill served to highlight the continued need for vigilance and proactive approaches in caring for the treasured Gulf Coast region. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is one federal agency working everyday with coastal landowners, farmers and ranchers on conservation efforts aimed at protecting, restoring and enhancing vital coastal resources and bird populations.

Missouri Farmers Bring Agriculture to Local Population

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

Thanks to the fertile lands along the Missouri river, farming has always had a major presence in the Show Me State. As of 2012, only Texas has more farms than Missouri. The latest Census of Agriculture counted more than 99,000 farms in our state, which produced more than $9 billion in agricultural products, nearly equally divided between crop and livestock products.

Missouri farmers are always looking for innovative ways to connect our state’s residents with local agriculture and to find new markets. That’s why, in 2012, there were nearly 4,000 farms selling value-added products, such as cheese, preserves, or locally-produced wine. That year, 844 farms in Missouri also offered agritourism and other recreational services, such as hay rides. And for those residents who want to receive fresh local products, Missouri also had 291 farms participating in the local community-supported agriculture programs.

Arkansas Farmers Combine Tradition with Stewardship

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

Farming has a huge presence in Arkansas, as evidenced by the results of the recent Census of Agriculture. In 2012, our state ranked 14th in the nation in value of agriculture products sold. That year Arkansas farmers sold $9.78 billion worth of crops and livestock!

Our state cuisine is the perfect indicator of our state’s farming. Rice is a staple in our kitchens, and not surprisingly, Arkansas rice growers led the nation in production of this important crop. In 2012, 1.29 million acres of Arkansas farmland were dedicated to rice production. Almost half of all U.S. rice came from our farmers that year.