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From Scientist to Farmer, Today’s Agriculture Producers Come from All Walks of Life

Richard McGinley farms 950 acres fulltime in central Florida.  According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, more than half of Florida’s principal farm operators report primary occupations other than farming. NRCS photo.

Richard McGinley farms 950 acres fulltime in central Florida. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, more than half of Florida’s principal farm operators report primary occupations other than farming. NRCS photo.

In the past, full-time farmers were the norm and children of farmers followed in their parent’s footsteps. That’s not the case today. Now, data from the Census of Agriculture show more than half of Florida’s principal farm operators report primary occupations other than farming.

Richard McGinley is a good example of today’s Florida farmer. He spent his early years living the city life until his dad moved the family to Ocala, located in central Florida, to begin farming. But McGinley had other interests that took him far from farming. He established a career in the nuclear industry and even started his own consulting business. Read more »

USDA Keeps Dairy Exports Flowing to Morocco

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and its sister agencies work to keep markets open to U.S. products.  Recently, an interagency team resolved an issue with Morocco, keeping a $126 million market open for American butter, cheese and other dairy products.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and its sister agencies work to keep markets open to U.S. products. Recently, an interagency team resolved an issue with Morocco, keeping a $126 million market open for American butter, cheese and other dairy products.

U.S. agricultural exports continue to be a bright spot for America’s economy, worth a record $152.5 billion in fiscal year 2014.  That’s why USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and its sister agencies work so hard to keep these export markets open.  So in 2011, when Morocco requested that USDA use a new dairy export certificate that we could not endorse, we launched into action.  Our goal was to protect an export market worth $126 million annually while preserving our close relationship with a valued trading partner.

Morocco is the 13th largest export market for our dairy products, and U.S. dairy exports are the fastest growing export category to that country.  U.S. companies export many dairy commodities to Morocco, such as butter, cheese and skim milk powder, as well as dairy ingredients such as milk protein and whey protein products. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Celebrating Our Nation’s Agricultural Abundance this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a celebration of the harvest and the abundance of food we are able to share with our friends and family. This Thanksgiving, take a moment to thank the farmers and ranchers who make our nation’s agricultural abundance possible. Without them, the safe, abundant and affordable food we’ll put on our tables at Thanksgiving would not be possible.

At the same time, this Thanksgiving, it is important to remember those less fortunate. Many people will donate time, food or other resources to a food bank to brighten the holiday for families in their communities, and I am proud to say that many USDA employees are among them. I am also proud that through our People’s Garden Initiative, we’ve been able to donate 3.9 million pounds of fresh produce to food banks across the country over the last few years. Read more »

Kentucky Jail Uses a High Tunnel to Grow Fresh Food

NRCS staff discuss soil health efforts with Hopkins County jailer Joe Blue, right, and Deputy Jailer Billy Thomas and the jail’s gardener. NRCS photo by Christy Morgan.

NRCS staff discuss soil health efforts with Hopkins County jailer Joe Blue, right, and Deputy Jailer Billy Thomas and the jail’s gardener. NRCS photo by Christy Morgan.

Kentucky Jailer Joe Blue is passionate about rehabilitating inmates. Innovative ideas for teaching new skills are always on his mind, which is how the Hopkins County jail’s gardening program was started.

The Kentucky jail sits on several acres and has a large farm just across the street. As Blue was walking around the property one day, he looked across the street and thought: “What’s the difference in that land and our land? Why can’t we grow our own food here?” Read more »

Partnering to Improve Market Data in Brazil

The MIOA members also toured the local wholesale market, Centrais de Abastecimento do Distrito Federal S.A (CEASA-DF), in Brasilia, Brazil. Dr. Luis Palmer, Chief of the International Reports Section of AMS Fruit and Vegetable Programs Market News (second from right with blue shirt) tours the market with MIOA members. Photo Courtesy of Francisco Stuckert, CONAB.

The MIOA members also toured the local wholesale market, Centrais de Abastecimento do Distrito Federal S.A (CEASA-DF), in Brasilia, Brazil. Dr. Luis Palmer, Chief of the International Reports Section of AMS Fruit and Vegetable Programs Market News (second from right with blue shirt) tours the market with MIOA members. Photo Courtesy of Francisco Stuckert, CONAB.

Quality data is paramount when it comes to helping markets reach their full potential. This is especially true in the agriculture industry where businesses are always searching for reliable data that can help them make important decisions like what to produce or how much to buy. I recently joined a team of USDA employees from my agency — the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) — and the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) that traveled to Brazil to share how we collect and disseminate key market data to help buyers and sellers make informed decisions.

Our trip to Brazil presented several opportunities to increase transparency in the inter-connected global marketplace. The primary purpose of the trip to Brasilia was to participate in the Regular Meeting of the Market Information for the Organization of the Americas (MIOA), which brings together a network of 33 member countries to collect, process, analyze, and disseminate information relative to markets and agricultural commodities. Read more »

Turkey Tips Step 4: Loving Your Leftovers

It’s over.

All of your guests have scraped their Thanksgiving dinner plates clean and have migrated from the dinner table to the couch.

While you may want to immediately relax and celebrate after preparing a successful meal, it’s important that you first refrigerate any leftovers within two hours. Prompt storage can prevent pathogenic bacteria that cause foodborne illness from growing on your leftovers. These bacteria can’t be smelled or tasted. Read more »