Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

New Export Markets, New Opportunities for Rural America

2009-2012 stand as the strongest four years for agricultural exports in history.

2009-2012 stand as the strongest four years for agricultural exports in history.

Today, the American brand of agriculture is surging in popularity worldwide. Fiscal years 2009-2012 represent the strongest four years in history for agricultural trade, with U.S. agricultural product exports exceeding $478 billion over these four years. Overall, American agriculture supports 1 in 12 jobs in the United States and provides American consumers with 83 percent of the food we consume, while maintaining affordability and choice. And 2013 is off to a roaring start already – with agricultural exports on track to set a new record.

Just last week, USDA announced three initiatives that expand export opportunities and reduce barriers to trade. These announcements support President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double all U.S. exports by the end of 2014, as well as underscore USDA’s commitment to a strong and resilient agricultural economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth nationwide. Read more »

Enhancing Yogurt with Healthful Fiber From Oats

ARS scientists performed tests on low-fat yogurt to see how much oat fiber can be added without affecting key qualities of this popular dairy food.

ARS scientists performed tests on low-fat yogurt to see how much oat fiber can be added without affecting key qualities of this popular dairy food.

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.

Yogurt is pretty healthy already, so how do you make it even healthier? Well, Agricultural Research Services (ARS) scientists have found a way – - by adding fiber. They’ve added very small amounts of a fiber-rich component of oats, called beta-glucan, to low-fat yogurt without noticeably affecting key characteristics such as the yogurt’s thick, creamy texture that many of us love. Read more »

When Traveling, Bring Back Fun Memories-Not Invasive Pests!

Agricultural items in passenger baggage: R. Anson Eaglin, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Agricultural items in passenger baggage: R. Anson Eaglin, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Travel is a popular activity for a lot of people.  When traveling outside the United States, what you bring back really does matter.  We want to protect our country from invasive plant pests and diseases to help keep our agriculture and forests safe.

You don’t want to inadvertently bring a pest or disease back with you.  That’s why Customs officials ask you to declare any food, plant items or handicrafts you have with you when you are returning to the U.S.  They know what items pose a risk and need to be kept out of the country. Many of those items are things you may not think could possibly cause a problem, but they could cause severe problems here at home—who wants that? Read more »

Change You Can Taste: School Lunch Program Gets a Makeover

The Patriot High School cafeteria in Nokesville, Va.  Students and parents from the Prince William County School District were invited to the annual food tasting to sample some potential items on the school menu. Photo by Hakim Fobia, AMS

The Patriot High School cafeteria in Nokesville, Va. Students and parents from the Prince William County School District were invited to the annual food tasting to sample some potential items on the school menu. Photo by Hakim Fobia, AMS

When you walk around many of the nation’s cafeterias, you will notice that plenty of changes have taken place on school lunch menus. Thanks to new standards and other efforts by the USDA, the lunches for our children have become healthier.

The new standards, which were implemented for the 2012-2013 school year, made significant improvements to the National School Lunch Program. Some of the changes include offering only fat-free or low-fat milk options, ensuring that fruits and vegetables are served every day of the week, and increasing the amount of whole grain-rich foods on menus. Read more »

USDA Helps “Cultivate” a Flourishing Agriculture College with a Community Facilities Loan

They’re known far and wide as The Fighting Quakers.

The irony isn’t lost on the fiercely proud students and alumni of Ohio’s historic Wilmington College. Founded in 1870 by the Religious Society of Friends, Wilmington College is the “warp and woof” of rural Clinton County; its largest employer since a huge delivery company suspended domestic operations in 2008, leaving nearly 10,000 people across seven counties without jobs. Read more »