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ARMS: Informing Policy on the Farm Economy

Data collected in the Agricultural Resource Management Survey generates a broad array of information, analyses, and uses.

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.

Nothing gives us a better insight into the U.S. farm economy than USDA’s annual Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS). It’s the major source of information on production practices, resource use, and financial conditions among U.S. farms and farm households. Read more »

Summer Food in Indian Country

Last summer, my colleague Barbara Lopez and I traveled to South Dakota to document the great work two Native American Tribes were doing to feed their children during the summer months.  Feeding children during the summer is crucial in fighting childhood hunger because children are out of school and are not getting the school breakfast and lunch they normally receive when in school.  The Cheyenne River Sioux and Rosebud Sioux Tribes both have long-running summer feeding programs that have helped many families in these tight-knit communities keep their children well fed and physically active.

We captured video of children swimming at the community pool as part of the Youth Diabetes Program before they went next door to get a nutritious summer lunch that included a salad with bright pink radishes and a juicy plum.  We interviewed a hard-working teenager employed at a summer feeding site through his community’s summer youth work program.  By teaching these young people about their culture, giving them work opportunities, and making sure they receive a nutritious meal every day, the Tribes are helping to ensure that the future will be brighter for their people. Read more »

Kicking Off National Summer Food Service Program Week: Closing the Summer Meal Gap

Today marks the 2nd annual National Summer Food Service Program Kick Off Week (June 11-15).  During the school year, more than 21 million children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch through the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs.  But when school is out, many low-income kids relying on these school meals, go hungry.  To close that gap, USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) helps children get the nutritious meals they need during the summer months so they’re ready to learn when they return to school in the fall.

A teen attending the summer food service site at the Boys and Girls Club of Ada County in Garden City, Idaho enjoys a healthy snack.

A teen attending the summer food service site at the Boys and Girls Club of Ada County in Garden City, Idaho enjoys a healthy snack.

This week, we’ll be sharing SFSP information through Twitter, blogs, and a variety of National Summer Food Service Program kick-off events throughout the country.  Our children’s continued ability to learn, grow up healthy, and reach their full potential will depend on what we do now to secure their future. Read more »

Increasing Healthy Food Access, A Community Conversation and a National Challenge

Today I participated in event with Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel to highlight the challenge of increasing access to healthy foods. It’s a conversation that I and others at USDA have had many times before.  From small towns to big cities, people are talking about how to get more fresh, healthy food into their communities.  Everywhere I go, parents ask how and where they can get fresh fruits and vegetables for their children.  Schools ask for advice on sourcing healthier food for school meals. Shoppers ask where they can buy healthy foods in their neighborhoods.

According to the Institute of Medicine, 1 in 3 children and 2 out of 3 adults are overweight or obese. The percentage of obese adults in the United States is expected to reach 42 percent by 2030. More than 20 million Americans have diabetes, and 79 million are pre-diabetic. Our nation’s children may be the first American generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents’, due in large part to obesity-related diseases . In addition, the economic costs of obesity and related chronic health issues are staggering at an estimated  $147 billion per year in direct costs, and billions more if indirect costs such as lost productivity are included. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Expanding Farm Credit Opportunities

Today, American agriculture is thriving.  Farm income is strong, and we are in the three best years for agricultural exports in history.

The prosperity of our agriculture sector is driving the economy forward, creating jobs, and ensuring that Americans have the most affordable food supply of any developed nation.  At USDA, we’re committed to supporting the farmers and ranchers who are creating this success.

One issue that is always critical for farmers and ranchers is access to credit – in particular for those who are just starting out or who have smaller farming operations. Read more »

Florida Bat Survey Tests for White-Nose Syndrome and Bat Health

Well into the wee hours of night, for five successive evenings, teams of scientists from across the southeastern United States waited and watched as bats in the Apalachicola National Forest swooped down to feed on their insect prey only to be captured in sheer mist nets.

The scientific teams and U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologists were conducting bat surveys to test for white-nose syndrome and general bat healthiness throughout the region. Read more »