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Reducing Food Waste is Child’s Play

The famous Julia Child once said “people who love to eat are always the best people,” but what would Julia say about eaters who waste food? In the United States, consumers discard about 20 percent of all food purchased. That adds up to approximately 90 billion pounds of food each year, costing each person $370 annually. For a family of four, that’s nearly $1,500.

While it may seem daunting, there are many simple ways to reduce food waste right at home. Here are a few tips on how to make the most out of your groceries: Read more »

New Land Ownership Data Add Value to Many Policy and Research Questions

Percent of U.S. Farmland Expected to Transfer in Next Five Years, by Region, 2015 chart

Percent of U.S. Farmland Expected to Transfer in Next Five Years, by Region, 2015 chart (Click to enlarge)

Whether they farm the land themselves or rent it out to others to farm, those who own agricultural land are taking measures to keep the land in their families. This is good news for those who worry about the United States losing agricultural land to competing pressures.

At USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, we just released the findings from a survey of agricultural landowners conducted earlier this year. It confirmed some things we know already and generated lots of new information that farmers, policymakers, businesses and others will use to understand more about who owns farmland, who has and will have access to farmland in the future, what kinds of conservation and production decision landowners are making, and lots more. Read more »

Working Together to Restore the Colorado Front Range

Dr. Richard Reynolds talking with a group of land owners and land managers about the benefits of ponderosa pine forest restoration to wildlife species

Dr. Richard Reynolds talks with a group of land owners and land managers about the benefits of ponderosa pine forest restoration to wildlife species. Photo credit: Jennifer Hayes, US Forest Service

It started with a call from a concerned landowner living on Pine Country Lane, nestled in the foothills just west of Denver. The landscape spread out before them was scarred from previous high-severity fires, the homeowners told their local Conservation District.

Their home was sitting at the top of a hill in a tinderbox surrounded by dense forests dying from bark beetle and tussock moth invasions. Decades of fire suppression has altered forests on the Front Range. These forests were historically adapted to frequent low-severity fire and, with suppression, have become fuel-dense and are now comprised of a different species mix. Read more »

Mixed Crop-Livestock Systems: Changing the Landscape of Organic Farming in the Palouse Region

Dorper ewes grazing in selected areas in a mixed crop-livestock research project

Dorper ewes graze in selected areas in a mixed crop-livestock research project. (Image courtesy of Jonathan Wachter)

Grazing livestock may soon be a common sight in the Palouse region of southeastern Washington, usually known for its rolling hills and grain production. 

Jonathan Wachter, a soil science doctoral student at Washington State University, has been working with a local farm to improve the competitiveness of organic mixed crop-livestock systems and their potential adoption by growers in a conventional grain-producing region. Read more »

New York State of Mind: Empowering Women and Creating Local Food Opportunities

AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo (standing in the middle) joined USDA state colleagues and New York State Commissioner of Agriculture Richard Ball for a roundtable on Women in Agriculture

AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo (standing in the middle) joined USDA state colleagues and New York State Commissioner of Agriculture Richard Ball for a roundtable on Women in Agriculture and Local Foods at the Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (WISE) Center in Syracuse, N.Y.

The future of agriculture depends on the next generation of farmers and ranchers.  That’s why the Department of Agriculture is committed to creating more opportunities for new and beginning farmers and removing barriers for women and minority farmers.

To advance these priorities, I traveled to Syracuse, N.Y., last week, where I was joined by my USDA state colleagues and New York State Commissioner of Agriculture Richard Ball for a roundtable on Women in Agriculture and Local Foods at the Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (WISE) Center in Syracuse, N.Y.  The discussion focused on the big picture of how a thriving local food system can help women succeed as farmers, ranchers, and entrepreneurs.  We had a vibrant conversation that ranged from sharing ideas to creating valuable connections and networks to mapping out strategies for further progress. Read more »

U.S.-Cuba Trade Relationship: Past, Present, and Possible Future

Field of corn growing on a farm in Cuba

Field of corn growing on a farm in Cuba. A recent report by the Economic Research Service points to future prospects for agricultural trade between the United States and Cuba. U.S. grain and feed exports to Cuba averaged 344,000 MT per year during 2012-14. Photo credit: USDA

Since December 2014, when the United States and Cuba announced the intention to restore diplomatic ties for the first time in more than half a century, the U.S. has taken steps to ease restrictions on trade, remittances, and travel to Cuba. The actions have generated a wave of enthusiasm about the economic opportunities that a more normal relationship between the two countries could create.

A recent report by the Economic Research Service (ERS) considers potential impacts of more normal commercial ties between the two countries on bilateral agricultural trade. Read more »