Skip to main content


Agriculture in the Beehive State

According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, Utah had more than 18,400 farms encompassing more than 10.8 million acres. This is an increase of 2 percent in the number of farms and a decrease of 1 percent in total acres compared to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Just under 80 percent of Utah’s farmland is permanent pasture and rangeland –– but a significant amount is cropland, of which most is irrigated. The total value of agricultural sales is $1.84 billion, of which 31 percent are from crop sales and 69 percent are from livestock and their products!

Traveling to Another State for the Great American Eclipse? USDA has a Reminder for You!

August 21 marks the date for the Great American Eclipse of 2017, with people from around the country planning to travel to get the best views. Before you take to the road to reach your solar eclipse festival, make a plan to buy or gather firewood near your destination. Moving firewood presents a high risk for moving invasive pests that destroy the trees we love and count on for so many things: respite from the summer heat, the quiet of a favorite campsite, and the shady sidewalks around your neighborhood.

REAPing America's Clean Energy Future

USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program, commonly referred to as ‘REAP’, provides financial resources for rural agricultural producers and small businesses to help them improve their bottom line. REAP provides loan guarantees and small grants to support these producers and owners as they improve the energy efficiency of their operations and develop renewable energy sources.

Today, Secretary Vilsack announced hundreds of new projects like the one I visited over the summer in Central City, Nebraska.  It exemplifies the strategic thinking our rural communities use daily to find new ways to prosper.  A community just shy of 3,000 residents, Central City is home to the first community solar garden project ever developed in Nebraska.

Small Loan Makes Big Difference for Family in Remote Area of Navajo Nation

Some mornings Nona Schuler would make the teeth-jarring drive along a washboard dirt road from her home on the Navajo Nation to her job in town only to discover when she got there that her earrings didn’t match. Without electricity and lighting, it was often difficult for her to see what she was doing in those early morning hours.

It was those small inconveniences that she spoke of most during a visit to her home on June 17 by USDA Rural Development Housing Administrator Tony Hernandez.

Hernandez, my staff, and I were at the Schulers to present the family with a certificate naming them as Homeownership Family of the Year for Arizona Rural Development. The designation was in honor of a solar PV system that was added to the Schuler home through a partnership with USDA, Grand Canyon Trust and Snyder Electric.

U.S. Forest Service Recognized for Energy Conservation Efforts

The Forest Service’s Technology and Development Center recently received the White House’s 2013 GreenGov Presidential Award and the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2013 Federal Energy and Water Management Award for its net zero energy facility project in San Dimas, Calif. A facility earns a net zero energy designation if it produces more renewable energy than it uses per year. This is the first facility of its kind in the Department of Agriculture.

The Department of Energy also recognized the Center for the same facility project and the Forest Service’s Northern Region for executing a $2.6 million Energy Savings Performance Contract in Fiscal Year 2012.

NIFA Grant Brings Power of the Sun to Remote Arizona Community

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.

A man in Arizona threw away an extension cord – and that’s a big deal for some folks who live about 100 miles west of Tucson.

The 48 families who live in the Pisinemo District of the Tohono O’odham Nation reside in an area so remote that some had to get their power by stringing extension cords to a neighbor’s house. Now, however, they have new solar panels to provide electricity for heating, cooling, and cooking.

USDA Rural Development Energy Funds Help a Puerto Rican Paint Manufacturer run on 100 percent Solar Power

On September 13, Master Paints & Chemical Corporation located in the Municipality of Guayanila, Puerto Rico realized their goal when they became independent of the use of fossil fuel sources energy.

Master Paint & Chemical Corp is a local rural paint manufacturer that employs 260 people. This company represents one of the main jobs sources in the municipality. In the past, the cost of electricity totaled more than $180,000 annually. Energy savings in this area became a priority to grantee. With the installation of this system, the company will save 100 percent in yearly energy costs.