Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

The International Influences of Cinco de Mayo Favorites

Learn about some Cinco de Mayo staples by exploring our infographic (click for larger version).

Learn about some Cinco de Mayo staples by exploring our infographic (click for larger version).

Cinco de Mayo is more than a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage.  With its American roots planted during the Civil War, the fifth of May is also a celebration of freedom and victory over odds.  Over the years the holiday has become more mainstream, with celebrations that bring together music, art and cuisine shaped by the rich culture and international influences of Mexico and Latin America. Read more »

A ‘Wild’ Experience with the Forest Service

With the increased use of electronic devices and scheduled activities competing for children’s outdoor time, how can we strike a balance?

There’s still hope by encouraging kids to get outdoors and to experience wild things.

In March, the Klamath National Forest and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Yreka Field Office joined forces with an interactive wildlife education booth at the annual Siskiyou County Sportsmen’s Expo in Yreka, Calif. Read more »

Meeting our Mission – A Safer Food Supply

Cross posted from Food Safety News:

My passion for public health stems from my career as an infectious disease doctor, watching families cope with the heartbreak caused by preventable diseases, including foodborne illness.  I know what it feels like to explain to a husband in shock that the reason his wife is on life support is because of something she ate that was contaminated with a deadly pathogen.

Now, I am the Under Secretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  In my current role, I oversee dedicated USDA inspectors, scientists, veterinarians, and numerous other personnel who protect food that we eat every day.  There is nothing more fundamental than being able to feed your own family a meal that will not make you sick, or worse, put you in the hospital.

I understand that there has been a lot of confusion about a proposal by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to modernize inspection at poultry slaughter plants.

I would like to try to eliminate that confusion. Read more »

Open Agricultural Data at Your Fingertips

Yesterday, Secretary Vilsack officially launched the U.S. Government’s new Food, Agriculture and Rural virtual community on Data.gov. This will serve as a single access point for our related datasets, databases, tools, apps and data resources discussed throughout the G-8 Open Data for Agriculture conference. This effort supports our USDA Digital Strategy efforts to ensure high-value services and systems are available anywhere, any time and on any device.

Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Accomplishing More by Democratizing Data

Here in the United States, we enjoy incredible benefits from scientific research – including an amazing amount of useful data.

Data is a very powerful tool, and an important asset for innovation. President Obama made clear on his first day in office that the U.S. is committed to openness in government, and that includes expanded access to scientific data.

We have a history of achieving great things by providing open access to data. For example, the release of weather data has fueled production of new tools that return more than $4 billion every year to the U.S. economy. The release of Global Positioning System technology has led to an industry that returns an estimated $90 billion annually to the U.S. economy. Read more »

Water Quality Index for Agricultural Runoff, Streamlined and Accessible

Water flows off a farm in Tennessee following a storm. NRCS Photo/Tim McCabe.

Water flows off a farm in Tennessee following a storm. NRCS Photo/Tim McCabe.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has developed a new web-based tool to help producers easily calculate the quality of water flowing off their fields.

It’s called the Water Quality Index for Agricultural Runoff, or WQIag for short, and this is how it works: Producers input variables about their field, such as slope, soil characteristics, nutrient and pest management, tillage practices, and, finally, conservation practices. Read more »