U.S. Department of Agriculture

One year after a record-low release of water from Lake Powell – which helped push the larger Lake Mead, located downstream on the Colorado River, to its lowest level since the bellwether reservoir was filled eight decades ago – federal officials will open the gates a little wider. According to a provisional operating plan, dam […]

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Farm data galore – by county and state, as well as nationally.

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vinyard

Benefits go to agriculture, but won’t help cities.

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Popping U.S. corn production in 2013 set a record of 13.9 billion bushels, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Collectively, farmers topped the old record, set in 2009, by 7 percent. Also faring well was the soybean crop, the third largest ever. Drought and new demand for gluten-free grain pushed sorghum acreage higher. Production […]

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Pesticide Use The U.S. Geological Survey updated its maps of pesticide use in the United States to include preliminary data from 2010 and 2011. The use of glyphosate jumped by roughly 13 percent between 2009 and 2011, according to the preliminary data. Glyphosate, an herbicide marketed by Monsanto under the name Roundup, is one of […]

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Cotton irrigation dryland farming Ogallala Aquifer Texas

Southern farmers are making changes now to wean themselves from the Ogallala Aquifer, a water source that gave rise to industrial agriculture and modern life on its plains.

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As oceans climb because of climate change, utilities that pull drinking water from rivers near the coast could see their supplies getting saltier, according to new research from the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS used climate models and observational data to look at the interaction between river flows, sea-level rise and tidal changes along the […]

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Cotton sorghum agriculture farming irrigation Ogallala Aquifer water Texas USDA

Though corn acreage is forecasted to rise slightly over last year’s planting, the biggest jump is predicted for sorghum, which uses less water.

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A U.S. Department of Agriculture research branch published reports on the consequence to farm income of eliminating direct payments and on trends in nitrogen used for corn. One of the debate points for the farm bill is whether to reduce “direct” payments — cash given to farmers based on fixed per-acre rates. The federal government […]

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Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, introduced legislation that would set up a federal water infrastructure financing program modeled after a program that provides low-interest loans for transportation projects.The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) would give priority to water and wastewater projects of national or regional significance, covering a gap in existing federal […]

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The Government Accountability Office recommends that the two federal agencies that run the three main assistance programs for rural water systems better coordinate their application requirements. This would save rural communities time and money, the GAO says. Water-Energy The GAO also evaluated federal progress on the connections between water and energy. Having written five reports […]

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The price of five internationally-traded staple crops rose 10 percent last month.

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A federal judge ruled that the Tennessee Valley Authority, a utility owned by the U.S. government, is responsible for a spill in 2008 of toxic waste from a coal-fired power plant. The Associated Press reports that in the next phase of the case, the judge will determine compensation for each of the more than 800 […]

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Environmental and public health groups are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to force the EPA to issue a rule on the chemical dispersants used in oil spill recovery, WaterWorld reports. Millions of gallons of chemical dispersants were used in the Gulf of Mexico after BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010, and the groups claim […]

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Government reports show the U.S. is still hot and dry.

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The drought in the Midwest has destroyed crops and herds, but it has also led to one of the smallest “dead zones”—low-oxygen areas where marine life struggles to survive—ever recorded in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The lead scientist for the study said the data confirm a positive […]

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Peer Reviewers for Fracking Study The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting nominations for qualified scientists to review its draft study of groundwater contamination in a Wyoming town. The draft, released in December, found compounds that are associated with natural-gas drilling processes in two monitoring wells. To nominate someone, send the person’s name, address […]

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Pipeline Expedition The U.S. House of Representatives passed a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. Included in the deal was a provision requiring President Barack Obama to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days. Earlier this year, the president said he would delay any action on the proposed 1,700-mile oil […]

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Biofuel Reality Check In 2007, Congress enacted revised standards for national biofuel production, setting annual volume mandates for transportation fuels up to 2022. To assess the benefits and barriers to achieving the standards, Congress asked the National Research Council to investigate. As with any prognostication, the major findings in the 447-page report are peppered with […]

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Shanghai Drought

Although now satiated, the dry spell is the latest in a growing trend of severe water shortages threatening China’s food production, energy generation, and accelerating modernization.

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