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Helping Export U.S. Dairy Products to China and the Rest of the World

A dairy cow from Ronnybrook Dairy Farm.  With the help of the Agricultural Marketing Service’s export certificates, dairy producers and manufacturers can send their products to 104 countries.  Photo courtesy of Garrett Ziegler

A dairy cow from Ronnybrook Dairy Farm. With the help of the Agricultural Marketing Service’s export certificates, dairy producers and manufacturers can send their products to 104 countries. Photo courtesy of Garrett Ziegler

Last year marked the first time in U.S. history that our dairy farmers produced more than 200 billion pounds of milk. This was the highest year over year increase since 2004-2005 and a 5.7 billion pound increase from the previous year. In recent years, more than two-thirds of the growing demand for U.S. farm milk has been for dairy exports. Read more »

USDA Climate Change Adaptation Plan Open for Public Comment

USDA is committed to fostering a clean energy economy and to improving the environment by conducting operations in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner, complying with environmental laws and regulations, and leading by example. In order to fulfill its mission of providing leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues, USDA focuses on the future. The Department recognizes the significance of global climate change and how potential impacts such as more frequent or severe weather events can affect our programs and operations.

To better coordinate USDA’s sustainability efforts and build on past success, USDA has prepared its 2012 Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan that underscores strategies and goals to save taxpayer dollars, reduce carbon emissions, cut waste and save energy.  As part of this effort, this year we have also prepared a Climate Change Adaptation Plan that outlines how the Department will address the impacts of climate change on its key mission areas such as agricultural production, food security, rural development, and forestry and natural resources conservation. The plan is available and open for a 60-day public comment period.

The USDA Climate Change Adaptation Plan includes input from eleven USDA agencies and offices.  It provides a detailed vulnerability assessment, reviews the elements of USDA’s mission that are at risk from climate change, and provides specific actions and steps being taken to build resilience to climate change.  The plan advances President Obama’s efforts to prepare the federal government for climate change.  We expect to revise and update the plan in 2013 in response to comments received from the public. Read more »

Finding ‘Gold’ in Bug Bellies

Almost three years ago, two biology professors at Delta State University in Mississippi brainstormed how to give science undergraduates research experience in microbiology and entomology.

They hit upon the idea of searching for “science gold” in the bellies of bugs.

Professors Tanya McKinney and Ellen Green received $40,000 through a grant for under-represented colleges from the U.S. Forest Service to help with the project. As part of their research experience, students in the program search the guts of beetle larvae to discover new cellulases, enzymes that break down cellulose, an organic compound that helps make plant cell walls rigid.

Read more »

USDA Employees in Kansas Assist at Local Food Bank in Effort to Provide Children with Healthy Snacks

USDA employees from Rural Development and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service assist at Harvesters, a local food bank.

USDA employees from Rural Development and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service assist at Harvesters, a local food bank.

USDA employees in Kansas from Rural Development and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recently visited the Harvesters Distribution Center in Topeka in honor of National Service Day.  Harvesters is a food bank that partners with more than 600 nonprofit agencies to provide nutritious food to individuals in 26-counties in northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri. Read more »

Mobile Optimization Drives Visitors to ATO Japan’s Website

 

Foreign Agricultural Service's (FAS) Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Japan released a smart phone optimized version of their website, us-ato.jp. The optimization was done in response to the increased use of smart technology by professionals worldwide to conduct business – especially those in Japan. (Courtesy Photo)

Foreign Agricultural Service's (FAS) Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Japan released a smart phone optimized version of their website, us-ato.jp. The optimization was done in response to the increased use of smart technology by professionals worldwide to conduct business – especially those in Japan. (Courtesy Photo)

The Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Japan recently released a smart phone optimized version of their business website, us-ato.jp, in conjunction with their “Taste of America” campaign.

The optimization was done in response to the increased use of smart technology by professionals worldwide to conduct business – especially those in Japan, said Tommy Aoki, a senior marketing specialist at ATO Japan. Read more »

Undersecretary Scuse Challenges Beginning Farmers to Let Their Voices Be Heard

A passion for agriculture is what brought 50 young farmers to the Washington, D.C., area this week, as part of a national networking forum for the next generation of producers.

“We want to let young producers know that their voice is important and they shouldn’t be hesitant or bashful about communicating with policymakers,” said Gordon Stone, executive vice president of the National Young Farmer Educational Association, or NYFEA, which sponsored Agriculture’s Promise: The Washington Forum.

Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse joined several speakers on day two of the three-day event — held Monday, Feb. 4 at National Harbor — to provide an overview of the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management and Foreign Agricultural Service and encourage discussion about USDA’s programs and policies. Scuse mentioned a new microloan program designed to help small and family operations, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers secure loans under $35,000. Microloans will help producers through their start-up years by providing needed resources and helping to increase equity so that farmers may eventually graduate to commercial credit and expand their operations. Scuse also spoke about the importance of communicating effectively with rural America. Read more »