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

Why Open Data Matters: G-8 and African Nations Increase Open Data for Food Security

From left: The G-8 Heads of Delegation Valery Khromchenkov (Russia), Robert Turnock (Canada), Hideaki Chotoku (Japan), Tim Wheeler (United Kingdom), Guillou Marion (France), Martin Koehler (Germany), and Giulio Menato (European Union) listen to Agriculture Under Secretary Research, Education and Economics (REE) Dr. Catherine Woteki (U.S.) announce the action plans developed at the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Apr. 30, 2013. The conference launched a new "virtual community" as part of a suite of actions, including the release of new data that the U.S. is taking to give farmers and ranchers, scientists, policy makers and other members of the public easy access to publicly funded data to help increase food security and nutrition. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

From left: The G-8 Heads of Delegation Valery Khromchenkov (Russia), Robert Turnock (Canada), Hideaki Chotoku (Japan), Tim Wheeler (United Kingdom), Guillou Marion (France), Martin Koehler (Germany), and Giulio Menato (European Union) listen to Agriculture Under Secretary Research, Education and Economics (REE) Dr. Catherine Woteki (U.S.) announce the action plans developed at the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

Recently, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack opened the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture here in Washington.  As head of the U.S. Delegation, the Secretary noted that “Data is quickly becoming one of the most important commodities in agriculture,” and encouraged the sharing of data to magnify its power. Hundreds of individuals attended from around the world and thousands more watched the event as it was streamed on the Internet. In this blog, Katherine Townsend, Special Assistant for Engagement at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) gives an example of how open data can improve crop yield and help producers keep more of the income generated by their labor. Read more »

A Lesson in Agricultural Alchemy: Greening Brownfields into Economic Gold

Real Food Farms used EPA’s Brownfields Program to reclaim 6 acres in downtown Baltimore.  Once the land was ready for production, Real Food Farms accessed USDA funds to build a greenhouse.  Now, the farm grows food for the neighboring communities.  Photo by MD Department of Agriculture

Real Food Farms used EPA’s Brownfields Program to reclaim 6 acres in downtown Baltimore. Once the land was ready for production, Real Food Farms accessed USDA funds to build a greenhouse. Now, the farm grows food for the neighboring communities. Photo by MD Department of Agriculture

In Waterbury, Connecticut, vacant lots are becoming community greenhouses – growing jobs and growing food.  Roanoke, Virginia is planning to build raised beds in empty lots to become community gardens that increase healthy food access.  In Missoula, Montana, asbestos abatement is allowing a local food coop to expand its footprint to include a café and community kitchen and to increase their capacity to work with local farmers and schools. Read more »

Cheers to Butterflies

As the bartender drew pints of Silverspot India Pale Ale for the crush of people in the Pelican Pub and Brewery in Pacific City, Ore., recently, Michelle Dragoo, Siuslaw National Forest wildlife biologist, and Anne Walker, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, prepared to tell the story of the butterfly that inspired the event. About 50 people grabbed a drink and a snack then settled in to listen.

Beer and endangered butterflies? Generally there’s not much in common there. But in this small western Oregon town they intersect in an interesting manner.

The Oregon silverspot butterfly once flourished in beach communities along the West Coast, but due to habitat loss they are found now in only a handful of protected areas, many of which are within the boundaries of the Siuslaw National Forest. Read more »

A USDA-funded Transfer Station Cuts Costs for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe was exceeding the landfill capacity of handling 20 tons a day of garbage at the central landfill in the Northeast corner of the Rosebud Reservation.  Garbage is hauled from twenty communities on the Reservation that range from 15 miles to 80 miles one way.  Approximately 30 tons of solid waste is generated daily on the Rosebud Reservation.

Recently the Rosebud Sioux Tribe received USDA Water and Environmental loan and grant funds to construct a new transfer station.  The project has made the operation cost effective and improved trash collection for residents on the Reservation.

A central transfer station located closer to where most of the garbage is generated allows the Tribe to minimize trips to the landfill, alleviate wear on equipment, minimize dumpster overflow and illegal dumping, and allow the Tribe to participate in recycling efforts resulting in saving space and extending the life of the landfill.  In addition, the modernization of the transfer station has provided the members of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe efficiencies in managing how the solid waste is handled and disposed of.   What used to take almost 5 days for pick-up now takes 3.5 days, which is a huge labor savings, plus, fuel costs have dropped. Read more »