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USDA Talks Honeybees on Twitter

Last week’s cover of TIME magazine featured a story about the rapid rate of decline of honeybee populations across the globe. The article focuses on the question of the price we’ll pay if we don’t figure out what is killing the honeybee. A daunting thought when you think about the fact that one-third of all food and beverages are made possible through pollination and pollinators are valued at $15 billion annually.

This morning, Jim Jones from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), author Hannah Nordhaus and I joined TIME journalist Bryan Walsh on Twitter to discuss the topic and what is being done and what needs to be done. If you happened to miss the Twitter chat, you can follow what was said by searching #TIMEbees. Read more »

Industry Associations Use USDA Market News to Create Apps

Screenshot of the ASI Market News mobile app.

Screenshot of the ASI Market News mobile app.

For nearly 100 years, USDA Market News has been collecting market information on behalf of those working in American agriculture to provide current, unbiased price and sales information.

Covering both domestic and international markets, the data is disseminated within hours of collection to help market and distribute farm commodities.  It is all provided publicly and free of charge via the Internet and other electronic means, in printed reports, by telephone recordings, and through the news media.  The agricultural industry relies on the thousands of market reports across hundreds of commodities, often using the data to create reports of their own. Read more »

Alpine Team Leading the Way to Stewardship Success in Texas

When the sign-up window opened for USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) in 2012, the five-member NRCS Alpine Resource Team was ready. The team is responsible for more than nine million acres of the Trans-Pecos region of Texas, and protecting the region’s natural resources comes first.

CSP is a voluntary conservation program that encourages producers who are already participating in NRCS conservation programs to take their efforts to the next level. Participants address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner with financial and technical assistance from NRCS—not only by tackling new practices, but also by maintaining, improving and managing the existing conservation measures on their operation. The program, begun in 2009, was still fairly new in 2012. Read more »

Nebraska’s FFA Youth Leaders Impressed and Impressive

It’s a big deal when you’ve just graduated from a small town high school in Western Nebraska to make a trip to Washington, D.C.  It’s especially a big deal when you get to sit in the office of the Administrator of the Farm Service Agency while in D.C. and share your thoughts.

Spencer Hartman made the trip recently.  He sat with FSA Administrator Juan M. Garcia and Deputy Administrator for Farm Loan Programs Chris Beyerhelm.  He was joined by colleague Bryce Doeschot, also a Nebraska native but from the opposite side of the state.  They talked about farming. Read more »

Puff and Fluff the Owls Return Home

Puff and Fluff, the baby owls that Forest Service firefighters saved during the Carstens Fire in June, are finally home. Terri Williams of the Fresno Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Service released the Western Screech-Owls on July 24 near where they were found over a month ago in a downed tree in the Sierra National Forest.

The birds were weak and dehydrated when Williams first received them from the Forest Service on June 20.  But under her care, Puff and Fluff tripled in weight, enjoying a steady diet of mice, day-old chicks and crickets. They grew strong and healthy and soon began showing signs that they were ready for release into the wild. According to Williams, the owls were tearing their own food, eating a whole mouse in one gulp, catching crickets, flying easily, finding hiding places in their enclosure during the day, and showing appropriate defensive actions towards humans, such as beak-clacking and hissing. Read more »

USDA Joins the Iroquois Confederacy, Reunites for 2nd Annual Cultural Transformation Day at the Six Nation Indian Village

Earlier this month, volunteers from USDA Rural Development (RD) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA) joined hands with representatives from the Six Nation Agricultural Society’s Indian Village to assist in preparations for the grounds use during the 2013 New York State Fair in Syracuse. The afternoon’s activities included painting, planting, raking and a tour of the grounds.

Cultural Transformation is a USDA initiative that strives to improve community relations, outreach opportunities, and encourage employees to achieve high standards. The initiative highlights how USDA is the People’s Department — and continues its commitment to improving customer service while creating a diverse, collaborative and highly effective workforce throughout the USDA’s many mission areas. Read more »