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Massachusetts Kids Get a Lesson in Natural Resource Conservation

Brady Brazell, NRCS Civil Engineering Technician and Julie Tosten, NRCS Soil Conservation Technician, admire the goats taking a walk around the farm.

Brady Brazell, NRCS Civil Engineering Technician and Julie Tosten, NRCS Soil Conservation Technician, admire the goats taking a walk around the farm.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is working with Land’s Sake, a non-profit organization in Weston, Mass., to improve soil health and to install an irrigation system and a high tunnel on their working organic farm.

The Land’s Sake farm has been in operation since 1980, when the town bought the land from Harvard University, which owned it as part of the Arnold Arboretum. Land’s Sake’s mission is to connect people with the land through farming and forestry through educational programs on their farm and local conservation lands. Read more »

Newly Updated Food Availability Data Reflect the Changing American Diet

USDA’s  Economic Research Service estimates the availability of hundreds of commodities for human consumption. The Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System includes historical as well as recent data. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

USDA’s Economic Research Service estimates the availability of hundreds of commodities for human consumption. The Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System includes historical as well as recent data. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

True or false?

  • Since 1985, the amount of rice available for Americans to eat has nearly doubled, from 11.6 to 21.2 pounds per person in 2010.
  • In 2010, pineapples were America’s favorite canned fruit, and tomatoes were our favorite canned vegetable.
  • U.S. milk availability, which peaked at 44.7 gallons per person in 1945, was 20.1 gallons per person in 2010.

Answers (all true) can be found in the Economic Research Service’s Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System—a unique data set revealing the types and amounts of food commodities available for U.S. consumers to eat. Read more »

US Forest Service Assists with Fire Monitoring in Zambia

Starting controlled fires in Kafue National Park

Starting controlled fires in Kafue National Park

Managing wildland fire is pretty much the same anywhere in the world. You need to think carefully about when and where to apply it and how to starve the fire of fuel in places you don’t want it. There are several ways to do it—but you need to know how.

As a U.S. Forest Service fire applications specialist, managing wildfire, monitoring ecosystem response and teaching others how to do so has been Tonja Opperman’s job for years. She is so good at it that recently the Forest Service International Programs invited her to teach fire monitoring in Zambia’s Kafue National Park. Read more »

Livestock Producers Affected by Disasters Urged to Keep Good Records

The Farm Service Agency would like to remind livestock producers affected by natural disasters such as Hurricane Isaac to keep thorough records of their livestock and feed losses, including additional expenses for such things as feed purchases because of lost supplies.

In addition to Isaac, there are a variety of disasters from fires in the west, floods in Florida, storms in the Mid-Atlantic and drought and heat affecting the heartland.  Each of these events is causing economic consequences for ranchers and producers including cattle, sheep and dairy operations, bee keepers and farm-raised fish, and poultry producers.

FSA recommends that owners and producers record all pertinent information of natural disaster consequences, including: Read more »

Farmers Help WIC Participants Get Fresh Produce Down in Texas

Young toddlers and children crowded the tents, shuffling and giggling, as they waited for their parents to purchase produce for the family. The Arlington Farmers’ Market was filled with customers who participate in the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) and farmers who were excited to cater to the enormous turn out. Well over 200 families came out in the mid-morning heat of Texas to receive their Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers.

Through the FMNP, WIC participants are able to access locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs that promote the well being and health of themselves and/or their children. Just last year in 2011, 1.9 million WIC participants received FMNP benefits, which, when redeemed, surpassed 16.4 million dollars in total revenue for participating farmers and farmer’s markets.

On hand this day were Ann Salyer-Caldwell, Tarrant County WIC Director, Sam Varela, the FMNP State Director of Texas Department of Agriculture, Kay Dillard, the Director of the Tarrant Area Food Bank, Dorothy “Toni” Savage-Oakford, a community health worker with the Tarrant County Health Department, and Samantha Swain, the local FMNP Coordinator. Read more »

USDA’s 150th Anniversary Celebrated at New York’s Empire Farm Days

What is summer in New York without a visit to the Empire Farm Days? For USDA New York employees, it is an annual tradition. This year we raved about the department’s 150th Anniversary, talked about all the great things we are doing for New York and (maybe) our team of volunteers had one too many corn on the cobs.

This event is a BIG deal – spread out across 300 acres of farmland on the Rodman Lott & Sons Farm; it has more than 500 vendors, producers and other agri-business specialists. It is the largest outdoor agriculture trade show in the Northeast and showcases THE latest and greatest in agricultural equipment and technology.

The three day event hosted everything from farm equipment sales and auctions to demonstrations of harvesting, processing equipment and other related machinery as well as educational and interactive exhibitions. Staff from our eight service centers kept farmers, families and friends busy with a myriad of activities that included the Wind Energy Center, community power generation and this year’s USDA 150th Anniversary exhibit that had information sharing, we answered questions about USDA history and current programs, we had face painting for the children and even (3 foot tall) sunflower giveaways throughout the day. Read more »