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Conservation Helps Kentucky Rancher Battle Winter

Brad Steverson uses rotational grazing on his Kentucky farm to help ensure he has food and water for his herd.

Brad Steverson uses rotational grazing on his Kentucky farm to help ensure he has food and water for his herd.

Many people think farmers get to take some time off during the winter, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. For livestock farmers like Brad Steverson, winter months bring significant challenges.

When it’s cold outside, he’s concerned about food, water and shelter for his 80 head of Black Angus. However, those concerns have been minimized recently with the help of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the use of conservation practices.

With technical and financial help from NRCS and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, he implemented a rotational grazing system on his 300-acre cattle ranch in Henry County, Ky. Read more »

Stay Healthy at College with MyPlate On Campus

Resources that support the MyPlate On Campus initiative, such as this toolkit, are available for free download at ChooseMyPlate.gov.

Resources that support the MyPlate On Campus initiative, such as this toolkit, are available for free download at ChooseMyPlate.gov.

Cross-posted from the USA.gov blog:

In March 2013, the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion launched the MyPlate On Campus initiative to help spread healthy eating messages to young adults during their college years. What makes MyPlate On Campus unique is that it not only empowers students to improve their own eating and physical activity habits, but also encourages them to bring their peers along for the ride.

The college environment can be hard to navigate and students may need a little help. Students are learning to manage a busy class schedule, make food decisions in all-you-can-eat settings, and live on their own for the first time. MyPlate On Campus shows young people how to build healthy habits with practical tips and tools. Read more »

A New Way of Doing Business for a New Generation

The experiences Lindsey and Ben Shute of Hearty Roots Farm in Clermont, NY helped the Farm Service Agency revise the Farm Storage Facility Loan to make the program more accessible for small and mid-sized farmers.

The experiences Lindsey and Ben Shute of Hearty Roots Farm in Clermont, NY helped the Farm Service Agency revise the Farm Storage Facility Loan to make the program more accessible for small and mid-sized farmers.

When Lindsey and Ben Shute contacted their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office looking for loan assistance to build a new cold storage facility for their farm, they had no idea what was in store for them.

For several years, FSA’s Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program had been available for cold storage facilities like the one Lindsey and Ben hoped to build. But Mike Schmidt, Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs in the Farm Service Agency, had been hearing reports that it was not being used widely by diversified fruit and vegetable producers.  Unclear on why, he reached out to a number of members of the community-supported agriculture (CSA) field and other diverse fruit and vegetable producers to see what the hurdles were.  That’s when Mike got connected to Lindsey and Ben. Read more »

Better Nutrition Leads to a Better Life, Thanks to USDA Research

ARS scientists performed tests on low-fat yogurt to see how much oat fiber can be added without affecting key qualities of this popular dairy food.

ARS scientists performed tests on low-fat yogurt to see how much oat fiber can be added without affecting key qualities of this popular dairy food.

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 the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

All month long, USDA will highlight how employees and agencies in many different disciplines and agencies all work together with the common goal of Building a Healthier Next Generation.  So this seems like the right time to take a quick look back at some of the ways the four agencies that make up USDA’s Office of Research, Education and Economics are helping improve mealtime for your family.

Yogurt has been in the news a lot lately, and many of you reach for it as a healthy snack.  But what if we could make something that is already a smart choice even better?  If you are a regular reader of our Science Tuesday blog, you already know that the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have found a way to make a healthy snack even better for you by adding fiber. They’ve added very small amounts (about a quarter-teaspoon’s worth) of a fiber-rich component of oats called beta-glucan to 8-ounce servings of low-fat yogurt without noticeably affecting key characteristics such as the yogurt’s thick, creamy texture that many of us love. Read more »

Woodland Salamanders Prove to be the New Canary in the Forest

The Ensatina salamander (Ensatina eschscholtzii) is a good indicator of forest ecosystem health. (U.S. Forest Service/Hartwell Welsh)

The Ensatina salamander (Ensatina eschscholtzii) is a good indicator of forest ecosystem health. (U.S. Forest Service/Hartwell Welsh)

With the Year of the Salamander now in full swing, there’s no wonder why everyone seems to be talking about these little creatures… they are the new canary in the coal mine when it comes to understanding forest health.

Woodland salamanders, small, ground-dwelling or subterranean, and primarily nocturnal creatures, are a common species in North American forests; and researchers from the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station say they are reliable indicators of recovery in damaged forest ecosystems. Read more »

Healthy Breakfast, Healthy Future

Cross posted from the Huffington Post:

Last Friday, I celebrated School Breakfast Week with a lively group of students at William H. Hunter Elementary School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I was joined by the Philadelphia Superintendent of Schools and various state officials as I participated in an event which emphasized the important role of the USDA School Breakfast Program in fostering a healthier next generation. This year’s celebration was extra special, with news that total program participation grew by more than 24 percent nationwide over the last six years. Nearly 14 million of our nation’s school children are now eating school breakfast each day.

Here’s why that’s so important: A well-balanced breakfast offers an important nutritional foundation for a productive and healthy day, at any age. School breakfast fosters success in the classroom, and also plays a critical role in helping children develop healthy habits that last a lifetime. Read more »