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Plant Variety Protection Growing Faster, Better and Online

Potatoes are just one of the many plant varieties issued certificates of protection by PVPO. Photo credit: Scott Bauer

Potatoes are just one of the many plant varieties issued certificates of protection by PVPO. Photo credit: Scott Bauer

Plant breeders use certificates of intellectual property rights protection as an important marketing tool. The Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO), part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is a user fee funded program that grants these certificates after careful and detailed review. Breeders of new plant varieties hold the certificates exclusively for 20 years. That benefit creates an incentive for the plant and seed industry to develop new varieties. Since 1970, PVPO has issued more than 8,700 certificates.

Sometimes offering a great service can also create problems, such as customer requests stacking up. That is exactly what happened to PVPO which found itself with a backlog of pending applications. The program took the issue head on by initiating a business process review in 2011. Read more »

A USDA Loan Guarantee Supports Chesapeake Bay Restoration and Supports Maryland’s Oyster Industry

Holding a handful of oyster spat: It takes about two years in Maryland to grow an oyster. Standing next to Acting Under Secretary Doug O’Brien (foreground)  is Terrance Taylor, representative for Congressman Steny Hoyer; Letitia Nichols, Business & Cooperative Program Director and Michael Dee, President, The Patapsco Bank. USDA has guaranteed a bank loan that will help the oyster operation grow and also protect Chesapeake Bay. USDA photo.

Holding a handful of oyster spat: It takes about two years in Maryland to grow an oyster. Standing next to Acting Under Secretary Doug O’Brien (foreground) is Terrance Taylor, representative for Congressman Steny Hoyer; Letitia Nichols, Business & Cooperative Program Director and Michael Dee, President, The Patapsco Bank. USDA has guaranteed a bank loan that will help the oyster operation grow and also protect Chesapeake Bay. USDA photo.

Earlier this week it was my honor to join USDA Rural Development Acting Under Secretary Doug O’Brien and Patapsco Bank President/CEO Michael Dee to announce funding support for one of Maryland’s favorite delicacies – the Chesapeake Bay Oyster.

“In today’s environment, economic recovery is the driving factor in everything we do, and our support for this local food project will have many benefits,” O’Brien said. “It will help support jobs and businesses in the region and support an eco-friendly environment that helps restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay.” Read more »

Grazing Land Management Helps an Arkansas Farmer Reduce Effects of Extreme Drought

Dale Courtney (left) visits with Randolph County NRCS District Conservationist Adam Eades near an electric fence and tire tank watering facility about the resilience a good prescribed grazing program offers during a drought.

Dale Courtney (left) visits with Randolph County NRCS District Conservationist Adam Eades near an electric fence and tire tank watering facility about the resilience a good prescribed grazing program offers during a drought.

Cattle producers across Arkansas faced many challenges during the extreme drought of 2012. Luckily, grazing management strategies helped farmers like Randolph County’s Dale Courtney alleviate the drought’s effects.

With the assistance of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Courtney developed and implemented a conservation plan that included grazing management strategies, which helped to protect his operation from the worst of the drought and make it more efficient.

Following the conservation plan, he added electric fence and pipeline to funnel water to new tire tank watering facilities in each of his pastures. Read more »

Paris Air Show a Hit for USDA Partners

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 USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Most people don’t equate aviation with agriculture, but two USDA partners, Washington State University (WSU) and members of a Texas 4-H Club, received the chance to participate in the 2013 Paris Air Show, which was held June 17-23.

In 2010, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded WSU with a $40 million grant to develop effective alternative biofuels for commercial and military jets. The project, the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA), is working to convert closed timber mills into bioenergy development centers, which will improve the economic potential of rural communities affected by the downturn in timber production. The team is focusing on feedstock development, sustainable forest production and establishing new methods to identify the most promising plant lines for biofuel conversion. NARA aims to develop a regional source of renewable aviation fuel for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Read more »

USDA, Federal Partners, and Foundations Collaborating to Promote Strategic Regional Economic Opportunities

Memphis is emerging as a metro region where rural and urban economic opportunities suggest the need for meaningful collaborative activities. Recently, USDA staff participated in a gathering of community development workshop in Memphis where rural leaders gathered to share challenges and successes with urban counterparts. The event was sponsored by the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), the Delta Regional Authority, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities.

Beginning in 2010, HUD began providing three-year Regional Planning grants to groups that were interested in developing long-range community plans that would help guide future federal investments in a more strategic manner. A number of those grants have been provided to communities in the Mississippi Delta region, and last week’s meeting gave the Delta Region grantees a chance to share successes and challenges of their efforts. Read more »

Forestry Students Vie for a Trip to Russia

The International Jr. Foresters’ Competition is an annual event hosted by the Russian Federal Forestry Agency.  It promotes and rewards young scientists for their interest and efforts in the environmental field and encourages international dialogue about forestry issues.

Individual youth ages 16-20 submit projects on topics such as forest science and silviculture, wildlife ecology and plant ecology. Projects will be presented to an international panel of judges (each contestant will give a 10-minute presentation) to compete for public recognition and valuable prizes. Read more »