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Japanese Beetles: “Send Me No Flowers—At Least, Not Geraniums!”

ARS entomologist Christopher Ranger observes healthy (left petri dish) and paralyzed (right petri dish) Japanese beetles after the beetles on the right consumed extracts isolated from geranium flowers.  ARS Photo.

ARS entomologist Christopher Ranger observes healthy (left petri dish) and paralyzed (right petri dish) Japanese beetles after the beetles on the right consumed extracts isolated from geranium flowers. ARS Photo.

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

Japanese beetles are tough hombres in the bug world, ripping and chomping their way through more than 300 plant species and nearly 80 plant families.  Farmers and ornamental plant growers spend more than $450 million annually on control measures and replacements for plants destroyed by the beetle, which is by far the most destructive pest of ornamental and turf plants in the eastern United States. Read more »

A Budget for our Future

Since coming into office in 2009, President Obama and I have taken important steps to avoid potential economic collapse, and strengthen the American economy for future generations.  America’s families have tightened their belts during these difficult times, and government needs to do the same.  That is why the Fiscal Year 2012 budget looks for opportunities to cut waste and streamline operations – but also proposes cutting programs that the President and I care about to work towards controlling the deficits.  Last year, USDA provided $4 billion to help pay down the debt by renegotiating an agreement with crop insurance companies.  This budget continues that commitment to deficit reduction – proposing a nearly $2 billion decrease from our request for Fiscal Year 2011. Read more »

Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan Kicks Off Her 2011 College Tour

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Dr. Kathleen Merrigan meets with local producers at the North Carolina University's student run Farmer's Market in Raleigh, NC, on Feb. 9, 2011.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Dr. Kathleen Merrigan meets with local producers at the North Carolina University's student run Farmer's Market in Raleigh, NC, on Feb. 9, 2011.

Before kicking off this year’s ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’ college tour in North Carolina, I took a moment to reflect on why these college visits are so important. As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, we must out-educate the world in order to win the future.  Indeed, during the eight years that I spent as a college professor, I was constantly reminded that investing in our nation’s young minds is investing in our nation’s future. With this in mind, this year, members of USDA leadership will join the Secretary and myself in engaging America’s youth in a critical dialogue about our food system, our rural economy, and the economic opportunities associated with local and regional markets. Read more »

Illinois School Hosts Rockin’ HealthierUS School Award Celebration

A recent USDA HUSSC event featured a rousing finale in which the entire gymnasium-filled with jumping and cheering students, teachers, administrators and partners- were showered with gold confetti.

A recent USDA HUSSC event featured a rousing finale in which the entire gymnasium-filled with jumping and cheering students, teachers, administrators and partners- were showered with gold confetti.

We don’t often associate rock music with school nutrition, but perhaps that’s changed after a fun-filled, rollicking event I attended at Golfview Elementary in Carpentersville, Illinois. Read more »

Regional Pennsylvania Stronger Economies Together (SET) Meets To Address Economic Issues

Snow didn’t stop the ideas from flying as members of the Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Commission (Northern Tier) and their partners from Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, and Wyoming Counties met in Pennsylvania last month. Northern Tier is leading the regional group that was awarded the opportunity to participate in the Stronger Economies Together (SET) training and technical assistance program, sponsored by USDA Rural Development in conjunction with the Northeast Regional Rural Development Center and Penn State Extension. The SET program is a nationwide effort focused on working with regional groups to encourage and strengthen regional thinking and developing information and strategies to address issues affecting the region. The training will cover nine course modules on “Strategies for Building New Economic Opportunities” which will be completed by next year. Read more »

AMS Fruit and Vegetable Programs Continues Outreach Efforts

The Fruit and Vegetable Programs of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is intensifying its educational outreach campaign to the industry and consumers.

Customers regularly refer to the Fruit and Vegetable Programs as the “best-kept secret in the produce business” because valuable resources are often underutilized.  The program maintains a lot of beneficial information for the industry, but we had to find different ways to present it.  To improve transparency, we embarked on a communication campaign that now offers an industry newsletter, a series of webinars, and enhancements to our website. Read more »