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Organic Growth – 27,000+ Certified Organic Operations around the World

USDA Certified Organic Operations graphic

At the end of 2014, there were a record 19,474 certified organic producers in the United States and 27,814 certified organic operations around the world.

This is the twenty-fourth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

Across the country, more and more people are looking for organic options at their local markets.  Thanks to the remarkable growth in the number of domestic and international certified organic operations, Americans now have more choices than ever.
 
In fact, according to data released today by my agency, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), there were 19,474 certified organic producers in the United States and 27,814 certified organic operations around the world at the end of 2014.  In just one year, the number of U.S. certified organic operations increased by more than 5 percent.  And since the count began in 2002, the number of domestic organic operations has increased by over 250 percent.  You can access the full list of certified operations at http://apps.ams.usda.gov/nop/ or download the list in Excel format going back to 2010. Read more »

Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and Kids’ State Dinner

At the 2014 Kids’ State dinner at the White House, Braeden Mannering, the 2013 Kid’s State Dinner winner from Delaware, introduces First Lady Michelle Obama at last year’s Kid’s State Dinner in East Room of the White House.

At the 2014 Kids’ State dinner at the White House, Braeden Mannering, the 2013 Kid’s State Dinner winner from Delaware, introduces First Lady Michelle Obama at last year’s Kid’s State Dinner in East Room of the White House.

Calling all budding chefs! Do you like to cook and make healthy food for your friends and family? If so, you might be able to show off your skills and creativity to the First Lady of the United States and your peers from across the country. Learn more about how you can represent your state at the Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House this summer.

First Lady Michelle Obama, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Education, and WGBH Boston invite you to enter the fourth annual Healthy Lunch Time Challenge & Kids’ “State Dinner.” Check out the past events here on the Let’s Move! website and get inspired to participate in this year’s challenge. Read more »

Women Leaders in Agriculture Look to the Future

Sonja Jimenez, Director of Promotion and Economics Division, Agricultural Marketing Service offers advice and support during a Flash Mentoring event at the observance of Women’s Equality Day at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, DC, Tuesday, August 26, 2014. USDA Photo by Bob Nichols.

Sonja Jimenez, Director of Promotion and Economics Division, Agricultural Marketing Service offers advice and support during a Flash Mentoring event at the observance of Women’s Equality Day at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, DC, Tuesday, August 26, 2014. USDA Photo by Bob Nichols.

Judy Olson, Donna Reifschneider, Vanessa Kummer, and Pam Johnson all share something in common— they are the women of “firsts”.

As the first female presidents of some of the major commodity organizations, these women broke new ground in agricultural leadership.  But it wasn’t easy being the only female leaders in a male dominated industry. Ask these four women to talk about their experiences and you will hear similar stories—they all hoped for a deeper network and the opportunity to learn from others. Today, they are all working to ensure that the next generation is right behind them—that they will be the “first but not last”. For them, leadership means being actively engaged with their industries and communities to ensure that women are valued and recognized as equal partners on farms, in businesses and in the board room, and that they share their experiences and expertise to support other women who hope to share their voice and leadership talents. Read more »

Deer Sign of the Times: Pellet Surveys Reveal Whitetail Abundance

Deer pellet group in Pennsylvania spring woods

A classic example of a pellet group in the Pennsylvania spring woods - evidence that white-tailed deer overwintered in this area. The shed antler was a bonus find on this particular plot. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service)

It’s a cool 37 degrees Fahrenheit as Alex Royo and I step out of the Forest Service truck and on to the muddy forest road. With the meteorologist calling for sun and a high of 66 degrees by lunchtime, I am already faced with the day’s toughest decision – do I keep my warm jacket on or leave it in the truck? Either way, half of my 3.5-mile hike is going to be uncomfortable. A quick glance at Alex reveals that he has opted to leave his jacket behind. As we walk into the forest, I can’t help but notice the contrast of colorful spring beauties and trout lilies against the dull brown forest floor. And already, there is the object of my hike — deer pellets. To find pellets so early in the day one has to wonder, just how many deer are out here?

That’s the question that vexes hunters, scientists, and land managers throughout Pennsylvania and beyond. Each and every spring, a small army of individuals from the USDA Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, the Allegheny National Forest, multiple private land managing partners, and volunteers hike hundreds of miles of Pennsylvania’s forests to help determine how many deer the forest holds by counting the most visible part of a deer – deer pellets, which is the nicest term for deer waste. Read more »

USDA Scientists, Volunteers Map Soils under New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay

Man and woman at Barnegat Bay

Barnegat Bay is one of 28 estuaries across the country classified as nationally significant.

Soil scientists don’t just map what’s under our feet but what’s below the water’s surface, too. Scientists with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are mapping and documenting the permanently submerged subaqueous soils of Barnegat Bay, a troubled estuary in New Jersey that is home to environmentally-sensitive habitats.

The bay’s ecosystem has degraded over the years from pollution, human development and other causes. NRCS soil scientists are now working an inventory of the bay’s soils that will identify the sources of the estuary’s decline and aid in its restoration.

To make this happen, NRCS is collecting vibracores and field notes and describing soil samples as part of mapping the floor of the bay. Vibracores are samples of underwater soils collected in tubes. Read more »

Bringing the Scientist to the Student

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.

When the Terrebonne Parish Main Library in Houma, Louisiana, issued flyers asking local science and engineering professionals to spend a few hours mentoring students on their science-fair project ideas, Michael Grisham didn’t hesitate.

Indeed, you might say that Grisham has had a lifelong affinity for science fairs—first as a student and, today, as a plant pathologist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), where he leads the agency’s Sugarcane Research Unit (SRU) in Houma. Read more »