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In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Kristina Fast

Kristina Fast, USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Minnesota

Kristina Fast with USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Minnesota talks about her path from a small family farm near Oden, Mn., to helping farmers through her FSA job.

Every month, USDA shares the story of a woman in agriculture who is leading the industry and helping other women succeed along the way. This month, we hear from Kristina Fast, a civil servant with USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Minnesota.

To learn more and connect with other women leaders in agriculture across the country, we encourage you to visit https://newfarmers.usda.gov/women-in-ag. If there is a leading woman in agriculture you’d like to see on the blog, please send us your suggestions at AgWomenLead@usda.gov. Read more »

MyPlate Helps You Put Your Best Fork Forward during National Nutrition Month

#MyPlateMyWins for National Nutrition Month image

ChooseMyPlate.gov has everything you need for National Nutrition Month®!

What do you think of when March rolls around? Basketball fans are probably gearing up for March Madness, history buffs might think of Caesar and the Ides of March, and then there’s the proverb that March comes in like a lion and out like lamb (or is it in like a lamb and out like a lion?)… Anyway, for dietitians and other nutrition professionals, March means National Nutrition Month®! It’s the month when we really shout our healthy eating message from the rooftops! Not that we’re shy about it the rest of the year, but still, March is special!

Whether you are a dietitian, educator, parent, or someone who is just trying to eat a bit better, ChooseMyPlate.gov has lots of materials to support your efforts during National Nutrition Month®. Here are some key resources to check out: Read more »

Honey: A Sweet Topic with New Data this Spring

Honey bees

Besides honey, honey bees also produce beeswax, propolis, royal jelly and bee bread.

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.

Every day, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) statisticians work hard to produce timely, accurate and useful statistics to U.S agriculture. In addition to producing hundreds of reports each year on crops, livestock and economic indicators for the agriculture industry, NASS collects and reports annual data for honey bee colonies. Historically, we’ve only surveyed operations or farms with five or more colonies, but in 2015 we expanded the survey to cover operations of all sizes. As a statistician who is also a beekeeper, I am pleased to provide valuable information about honey as a public service and decision-making tool.

The annual honey report publishes the maximum number of honey producing colonies, honey yield, value of honey production, and honey price by color class and marketing channel. In addition to bee and honey surveys, the Census of Agriculture, which is collected every five years, publishes number of operations, number of colonies, pounds of honey produced and value produced. NASS has data on honey production dating back to 1986. Current honey and honey bee data is available on the NASS website. Read more »

Flushed Away…Probing For Antibiotic Presence in Our Food Supply

Penn State University doctoral candidate Alison Franklin collecting samples of treated wastewater

Penn State University doctoral candidate Alison Franklin collects samples of treated wastewater used to spray-irrigate crops at a research site. Photo by Katie Colaneri.

It’s a question with major public-health implications: Could antibiotics and other widely used medications get into our food supply when they are flushed into our sewers?

To try to answer that question, researchers from USDA and Penn State University (PSU) assessed whether some commonly used pharmaceuticals could get into a wheat crop irrigated with recycled wastewater. Read more »

Research Can Help the Economy and Inform Policy

Wood pellets

Wood pellets which can be used as biofuel are one example of the many technologies and products the Forest Service produces or supports that provide sizable financial benefits to stakeholders and industry. (Photo credit: USDA)

When most people think of forests, science isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but, perhaps, it should. That’s because the U.S. Forest Service Research and Development program oversees projects across many science disciplines including forestry, genetics, wildlife, forest products and wildfire.

And the agency has been using this science to deliver returns on investments for stakeholders, industry partners, and the public.

For instance Forest Service research supported the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s decision to not list the Greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act, listing the species would have necessitated restrictions on economic activity across 163 million acres. Read more »

Tornado Devastates NFC Building, But Not NFC Workers

Tornado damage at the National Finance Center (NFC) Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017 in New Orleans, LA

Tornado damage at the National Finance Center (NFC) Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017 in New Orleans, LA. USDA photo by Mike Clanton.

Within minutes of being notified of an impending storm, the employees of the US Department of Agriculture’s National Finance Center (NFC) in New Orleans felt the devastating impact of the EF-3 tornado that descend upon the two-story building with enough force to tear away whole sections of the brick façade in eight places and leave portions of its interior exposed to the elements.

“I could see it coming,” said Tara Gilliam, chief of Human Resources Management Staff. “It swallowed the building in a matter of seconds.” Read more »