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From Data to Decisions: Using Data to Improve Public Access and Knowledge

There are many companies that are currently using USDA data. Mercaris is a new company filling in the gap in offerings with reliable market data and an online trading tool tailored to the organic and non-GMO production, processing, and retail industries. Their reports present current and archived market condition information to assist in pricing decisions. FarmLogs provides comprehensive farm management software-as-a-service to farmers managing farms ranging from small-scale to over 30k acres. Their platform supports a hybrid of government and farmer-generated data that is analyzed and incorporated into their decisionmaking tools.

USDA wants to continue to encourage additional innovations and solutions by providing the data and statistics necessary that will offer improved agricultural production, global food security, poverty, nutrition and human health, natural resources and environmental issues, rural development, local and regional food systems, and many other issues. Read more »

One Day of Gleaning Brings Joy to Thousands of Children

Children from Emerson Elementary School in Albuquerque, N.M., were treated to their own pumpkin, compliments of the New Mexico Farm Service Agency. More than 8,500 pumpkins were donated to schools, children’s hospitals and local food banks.

Children from Emerson Elementary School in Albuquerque, N.M., were treated to their own pumpkin, compliments of the New Mexico Farm Service Agency. More than 8,500 pumpkins were donated to schools, children’s hospitals and local food banks.

What started out with just a handful of FSA employees trying to do the right thing has turned into an annual event that spans six New Mexico counties.

Ten years ago John Perea, county executive director for Torrance County, N.M., started a project to glean pumpkins from farmers John and Dianne Aday.

“We started it as an effort to take pumpkins that were left in the field and still in good shape, and try to get them to needy children,” said Perea, who along with other FSA employees coordinates the event each year. “We try to find schools in areas which demographically have families that are lower income and in neighborhoods with a history of drug abuse and various social problems.” Read more »

Beginning Rancher Welcomes Assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service

From left: Flavio Garza, NRCS district conservationist, Jorge Espinoza, and Henry Gonzalez, NRCS rangeland management specialist, visit on Espinoza’s ranch about forage establishment. USDA Photo.

From left: Flavio Garza, NRCS district conservationist, Jorge Espinoza, and Henry Gonzalez, NRCS rangeland management specialist, visit on Espinoza’s ranch about forage establishment. USDA Photo.

Despite the ongoing drought in part of Texas, there are always people who want to get into the cattle raising business. A growing segment of these new beef producers are non-traditional small-tract landowners, such as Jorge Espinoza of Laredo.

Espinoza just purchased his first 50 acres, and he quickly learned that if he was to be successful, he needed expert advice.

Through word of mouth, Espinoza heard about USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency that works with farmers and landowners to implement conservation on private lands. Read more »

Be Prepared for Winter Driving in National Forests – Your Life Could Depend on it

Even the family dog enjoys cross-country skiing on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in California. (U.S. Forest Service)

Even the family dog enjoys cross-country skiing on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in California. (U.S. Forest Service)

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend tradition has long included the unofficial kick-off to ski season and a time when families head out to find their Christmas tree, and many times those events involve a trip to U.S. Forest Service lands.

Recreationists find some of the best downhill, cross-country and snowshoeing opportunities with 122 ski areas in 13 states using a total of 182,095 acres of Forest Service-managed land. Add to those opportunities snowmobiling and winter camping, which makes public lands a great family destination. With a permit, you can even find your perfect Christmas tree. Read more »

On The Road: Deputy Secretary Harden Tours Projects in Delaware and Pennsylvania

Ralph Cramer shows Deputy Harden some of the wreaths created with dried flowers from Cramer’s Posie Patch.

Ralph Cramer shows Deputy Harden some of the wreaths created with dried flowers from Cramer’s Posie Patch.

After a busy day at University of Delaware filled with a student roundtable and a visit to the UDairy Creamery, Deputy Secretary Harden awoke in Pennsylvania to tour the Conewago Watershed, a local flower farm and the YorKitchen incubator.

On a mild November Friday, Deputy Secretary Harden traveled through the scenic countryside of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her tour began with the Conewago Creek Watershed in Lancaster County, including visits to several trails, fencing, forested riparian buffers and stream crossings. Deputy Harden then stopped in at the Lebanon County Field Office to chat with staff from Natural Resources and Conservation Services and Rural Development. A winding trip through Lancaster County led to Cramer’s Posie Patch in Mount Joy, where she met with owners Ralph and Keith Cramer for a tour of their 47 acre wholesale fresh and dried flower farm. While the fresh cut flower season is over, the dried flowers from this year’s harvest depicted a time of vibrancy during the growing season. The dried and long-stem fresh flowers are sold to wholesale distributors for the creation of home décor arrangements and wreaths. Read more »

Don’t Let No-Show Guests Jeopardize Food Safety This Thanksgiving!

You’ve invited the guests, decorated the table and prepared the food. Then the guests are delayed, call to cancel or don’t show at all. Holiday meals and other celebrations require careful planning to ensure that everything goes as planned. When guests encounter emergencies and the meal must be delayed or cancelled, food must be handled “just right” to remain safe.

Every Thanksgiving, the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline receives inquiries from consumers who need help with these unplanned situations. Here are just a few. Read more »