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Estimating Ecosystem Benefits from Rangeland Conservation Practices

Nature provides numerous benefits that people value. In the conservation world, we call these benefits ecosystem services. On rangelands, some ecosystem services can be bought and sold in traditional market systems – like forages, meat, and other animal products from livestock. Other ecosystem services are not typically bought or sold, but nevertheless have value – like cleaner water, better air quality, and reduced risk from drought or flood. Conservation practices can increase the value of both types of ecosystem services. But, how do we put a dollar value on non-marketable services on rangeland? And how do we tie those dollar values to USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation practices?

Black History Month - Celebrating Black American Achievements Past and Present

February is Black History Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the hard-fought achievements, sacrifices, and contributions made by Black Americans to every aspect of our country’s diverse cultural heritage, and particularly to the agricultural industry. It’s also a time for us to honor the Black farmers and ranchers of today, who are providing food, fiber, and fuel for the nation.

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.

Bee Better Certification Program is Buzzing on U.S. Farms, Local Grocers

Bees are a lifeline for farms producing the world’s fruits, vegetables, nuts and other nutrient-rich foods. Bees pollinate billions of dollars’ worth of crops and play an essential role in our food supply. Pollinators are responsible for one in every three bites of food we eat and contribute more than $15 billion to our nation's crop values each year.

NRCS Shares Soil Science through International Engagement

As the world leader in soil classification and soil survey, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), was invited to give a keynote presentation at the XXVII Congress of Soil Science of Argentina held virtually the week of October 12, 2020. Soil Survey Regional Director Luis Hernandez with the NRCS Soil and Plant Science Division represented USDA-NRCS and provided a comprehensive overview of the USA National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) Program.

USDA Looks to Conservation Finance to Deliver More Working Lands Conservation

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the nation’s largest funder of conservation on private land. For decades, NRCS staff have worked hand-in-hand with America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in funding and technical assistance, delivering valuable practices like cover crops, no-till, windbreaks, grazing management strategies and manure management facilities. Despite these efforts, less than ten percent of our nation’s working lands receive NRCS assistance in any given year. NRCS is constantly trying to close this gap, expanding the reach of its programs through innovative grant programs like the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) and the Alternative Funding Arrangement component of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP AFA). Moreover, in recent years, the agency has begun exploring conservation finance as a new tool to deliver support for a diverse array of projects, benefiting a larger percentage of farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners.

Agricultural Innovation Takes Shape in Great Lakes Region, Helping Solve Solutions Today for Challenges Tomorrow

If we plan to survive in the future, we must address today’s most pressing concerns in agriculture. Preparing the land to continue to meet food, fiber, fuel, feed, and climate demands is a tall order to fill for growing populations. USDA has aligned all its resources, programs and research to give farmers with the tools they need to help meet these challenges.

The Fox Canyon Water Market: A Market-Based Tool for Groundwater Conservation Goes Live

Ventura County, California, is an agricultural powerhouse. In 2017, its revenues from agriculture were an estimated $2.1 billion. It also faces extraordinary population pressure, with nearly 450 people per square mile – about five times the average population density of the United States. Both agriculture and infrastructure are dependent on, and impacted by, the availability of water – which has itself been impacted by California’s rapidly-diminishing groundwater reserves.