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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 the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Earlier this month, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), released the latest count of farms in the United States. The nation has nearly 2.2 million farms, a number that has held pretty steady for the past decade. While this number is important, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Read more »

Urban Interest in Ag?

I quickly learned this past weekend that the 2012 Farm Bill deliberations aren’t just being watched by folks who live in rural America. A conference in New York City last week demonstrated that many people in our nation’s largest city are also following the Farm Bill reauthorization discussions closely.

As Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan talked with attendees following her speech at the 2012 Just Food Conference, questions about the 2012 Farm Bill were among the most frequently asked, with dozens of students and long-time food policy advocates wanting to know more. Read more »

Emergency Conservation Program Restores Idaho Deer Farm

Ivan and Wilmina Phelps are the proud operators of a European Fallow Deer farm in scenic McCall, Idaho where national forests are the border for many farms. Their story is a tale of hard work, love of the land, care for their animals and survival of the fittest, as the couple recovered from a disaster with help from the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

The Phelps Family raises the deer for venison that they sell at area farmers markets. They also sell to restaurants, stores and direct to consumers. The business started in 1998 with only seven does and one buck. In 2000, the Phelps’ purchased an additional 54 heads and now have a herd of 150. Read more »

Refinancing Program Could Help Thousands of USDA Home Mortgage Holders

L-R: Orlando Housing Authority President Vivian Bryant; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack; Rural Development Florida State Director Richard Machek and Rural Development Florida Single Family Housing Program Director Daryl Cooper participated in a business roundtable in Orlando, Fla., last Friday.  They discussed discuss the USDA Rural Development Home Refinancing Pilot Program which is available to USDA borrowers in 19 states.

L-R: Orlando Housing Authority President Vivian Bryant; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack; Rural Development Florida State Director Richard Machek and Rural Development Florida Single Family Housing Program Director Daryl Cooper participated in a business roundtable in Orlando, Fla., last Friday. They discussed the USDA Rural Development Home Refinancing Pilot Program which is available to USDA borrowers in 19 states.

When most people think of Orlando, Florida, they envision exciting theme parks, Cinderella’s castle and a mouse with big ears.  But when USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Orlando on February 24th, it was with a different vision in mind. Read more »

Meet Face of Food Safety Jeremy “Todd” Reed

Jeremy “Todd” Reed, Chief of the Analytical Design Branch in FSIS’ Data Analysis and Integration Group, says he finds more similarities than differences between his work in food safety and his former position at the Department of Defense.

Jeremy “Todd” Reed, Chief of the Analytical Design Branch in FSIS’ Data Analysis and Integration Group, says he finds more similarities than differences between his work in food safety and his former position at the Department of Defense.

With degrees in Chinese and political science, advanced credentials in mathematics, and co-authorship of a book titled The ETIM: China’s Islamic Militants and the Global Terrorist Threat (and a striking resemblance to actor Bradley Cooper), Jeremy “Todd” Reed sounds like the lead character in a spy movie. Luckily for the USDA and carnivorous Americans, Todd’s real job title is “Chief of the Analytical Design Branch, Office of Data Integration and Food Protection” at the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Read more »

El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico now featured on U.S. Mint America the Beautiful Quarter

In 2010, the U.S. Mint began issuing a series of quarters, such as this one from El Yunque National Forest, featuring national forests along with other sites highlighting ’America the Beautiful.’ Photo courtesy of the U.S. MintIn 2010, the U.S. Mint began issuing a series of quarters, such as this one from El Yunque National Forest, featuring national forests along with other sites highlighting ’America the Beautiful.’ Photo courtesy of the U.S. Mint

In 2010, the U.S. Mint began issuing a series of quarters, such as this one from El Yunque National Forest, featuring national forests along with other sites highlighting ’America the Beautiful.’ Photo courtesy of the U.S. Mint

Imagine going to the grocery store and getting a national forest quarter as your change and holding onto it as a collector’s item.  That can happen now because of the recent release of the El Yunque National Forest coin.  The coin features the endangered Puerto Rican parrot and the coqui tree frog amongst tropical vegetation. Read more »