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New Jersey Girl Wins top Honors in Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl Poster Contest

Smokey Bear presents Caroline Tan, 11, with a replica of himself during a ceremony led by U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell to honor the Westfield, N.J., girl as the national winner in the 2012 Smokey Bear & Woodsy Owl Poster Contest. Caroline’s winning poster was chosen from nearly 22,000 entries. Dominic Cumberland/U.S. Forest Service Photo

Smokey Bear presents Caroline Tan, 11, with a replica of himself during a ceremony led by U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell to honor the Westfield, N.J., girl as the national winner in the 2012 Smokey Bear & Woodsy Owl Poster Contest. Caroline’s winning poster was chosen from nearly 22,000 entries. Dominic Cumberland/U.S. Forest Service Photo

Caroline Tan, an 11-year-old from Westfield, N.J., is pretty certain about a few things when it comes to natural resources.

“It’s not just about my art, but it does represent something very serious,” Caroline said. “We have to prevent wildfires, not just in art but in real life. It’s not something we should ignore.” Read more »

Texas Small Farmers and Ranchers Nonprofit Is Growing in a Big Way

Working alongside USDA agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is second nature for the Texas Small Farmers and Ranchers Community Based Organization.

Founded in 1998, the organization is dedicated to assisting limited resource agricultural producers in parts of Texas with accessing services and programs offered by state and federal agricultural agencies.

Today, the Texas Small Farmers and Ranchers Community Based Organization has grown into a dynamic 400-member organization. It works closely with NRCS staff across Central and East Texas to ensure the success of the nonprofit’s outreach efforts to landowners. Read more »

A Science Agenda for Food Security

Consumers in low-income countries on average spend half their income on food, leaving little or no money to spend on other goods and services. As the world population grows, agricultural science will play an important role in helping us combat hunger and malnutrition around the globe. (photo courtesy of the World Food Program/Rein Skullerud)

Consumers in low-income countries on average spend half their income on food, leaving little or no money to spend on other goods and services. As the world population grows, agricultural science will play an important role in helping us combat hunger and malnutrition around the globe. (photo courtesy of the World Food Program/Rein Skullerud)

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.

The world is not merely facing a challenge of sustainably producing enough food to feed a world whose population will exceed 9 billion by 2050, but also confronting the continuous challenge of ensuring that nutritious and safe food reaches needy families, so that every child can have a safe and healthy childhood.  Combating this urgent crisis requires a global collaborative effort.  According to experts, by 2050 agricultural production will need to increase by 70% to meet increased demand for food, diet changes and additional demand for industrial uses for plants.  To help meet this goal, USDA has developed a Global Food Security strategy, focused on research, development, education and extension.  As part of USDA’s Office of the Chief Scientist series of white papers on USDA’s research portfolio, this plan aligns USDA’s food security research with the goals of President Obama’s Global Food Security Initiative, Feed the Future. Read more »

U.S. Cherries On Top In South Korean Market

Shoppers at a South Korean discount chain store pick fresh U.S. cherries during a promotional event called “Cherry Day” on July 2. Since the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement (KORUS) went into effect in March, Korean retailers have seen sales of U.S. cherries rapidly increase, and in some cases, account for the top selling imported fruit. KORUS removed two thirds of the tariffs imposed on U.S. food and agricultural products exporting to South Korea.

It’s only been four months since the historic U.S.-Korea free trade agreement (KORUS) removed two thirds of the tariffs imposed on U.S. food and agricultural products exported to South Korea. But already, sales of U.S. fresh cherries are on the rise. The elimination of a 24-percent import duty on cherries – along with marketing support from the U.S. cherry industry and the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in Seoul – is helping boost U.S. cherry sales in Korea to record levels. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 7/30/12

Agricultural Weather Assessment - U.S. Soybean Conditions as of July 29, 2012

Agricultural Weather Assessment - U.S. Soybean Conditions as of July 29, 2012. Click to enlarge image.

Visit www.usda.gov/drought for the latest information regarding USDA’s Drought Disaster response and assistance.

Based on weather developments last week (July 22-28), U.S. corn and soybean conditions further declined in today’s USDA/NASS crop condition report.  The most significant crop deterioration occurred across the southern and western Corn Belt, where little or no rainfall accompanied temperatures that averaged 5 to 10°F above normal.  Multiple days of triple-digit (100°F) heat were noted last week in parts of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and on the Great Plains from South Dakota to Texas.  In contrast, there was enough rain (locally 1 to 2 inches or more) across the northern Corn Belt, mainly from the Dakotas to Michigan and Ohio, to help stabilize crop conditions in some fields.  Parts of central and eastern Iowa also received highly beneficial rainfall in excess of an inch.

U.S. soybeans, rated 37% very poor to poor on July 29, 2012, have matched lowest conditions observed during the Drought of 1988.  That year, soybeans rated very poor to poor peaked at 37% on July 10, with a secondary peak of 35% on August 21.  Nearly half (48%) of the U.S. corn was rated very poor to poor on July 29, 2012.  In 1988, corn rated very poor to poor peaked at 53% on August 21.

Weather Outlook:  During the next five days, no appreciable drought relief can be expected across the hardest-hit drought areas of the Plains, Mid-South, or Midwest, although rainfall in isolated locations may exceed an inch.  Significant rainfall (1 to 3 inches, with locally higher amounts) will be confined to the Southwest and the Southeast.  The northern Corn Belt will continue to experience scattered showers and a reprieve from hot weather, but excessively hot conditions will prevail for the remainder of the week across the central and southern Plains, the Mid-South, and parts of the southern Corn Belt.  In some of the hottest areas across the south-central U.S., high temperatures will continue to approach 110°F.  Late in the week, cooler air will arrive across the northern Plains.

Watch USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey discuss the current agricultural weather outlook on USDA’s YouTube channel.

Fishers Face a New Threat: Poisons Used by Marijuana Growers

Rat poison used on illegal marijuana farms pose a threat to fishers (pictured) and other forest animals.

Rat poison used on illegal marijuana farms pose a threat to fishers (pictured) and other forest animals.

Illegal marijuana farms in our nation’s forests are not only threatening the safety of humans in these recreational areas, but are also causing ecological damage to the land. And now, there’s proof that the animals that make the forests their homes are also being harmed. Read more »