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GIPSA’s National Grain Center Hosts Secretary Tom Vilsack

Sec. Tom Vilsack visited the grain grading laboratory of GIPSA's Board of Appeals and Review (BAR) and the Grading Service Laboratory (GSL) on October 23, 2013.   BAR staff explain their grading review process while BAR Chairman Jim Whalen looks on.

Sec. Tom Vilsack visited the grain grading laboratory of GIPSA's Board of Appeals and Review (BAR) and the Grading Service Laboratory (GSL) on October 23, 2013. BAR staff explain their grading review process while BAR Chairman Jim Whalen looks on.

The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA) National Grain Center (NGC) was proud to host Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday, October 23.  The NGC, located in Kansas City, MO, is home to the Federal Grain Inspection Service’s (FGIS) Technology and Science Division along with staff from FGIS’ Quality Assurance and Compliance Division and Field Management Division.

The grain inspectors, scientists and engineers at the NGC provide a broad spectrum of grain inspection services and support within recently renovated state of the art laboratories.   During the visit, NGC staff demonstrated how they oversee, develop and approve methods and instruments used for grain inspection that ensure the consistent standard of measuring quality essential to grain marketing. Read more »

Ag Statistician Goes from NCAA to NASS

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.

2013 is the International Year of Statistics. As part of this global event, every month this year USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will profile careers of individuals who are making significant contributions to improve agricultural statistics in the United States.

Growing up in Texas, you’re never far removed from agriculture. Even though I grew up in Houston, my grandparents had a beef operation and I’ve always believed that agriculture is simply in my blood. I also knew that I had a passion for numbers, so when time came for me to pick a college major, Agricultural Economics seemed like a great combination of my two passions.

I earned my degree from Prairie View A&M University in Texas. During my junior year, I joined USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Texas Field Office as an intern, which ended up transforming into a full time position with the agency’s Arkansas office after my graduation. Read more »

On the One Year Anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, USDA Looks Ahead

U.S. Forest Service crewmember Bill Scripp finishes the job of sawing downed trees at Forest Park in Queens, NY on Nov. 4, 2012 to make passage safe for residents. The park is a major walking thoroughfare, including popular recreational trails. Bill Scripp belongs to the Wayne National Forest, in Ohio Valley, OH. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.

U.S. Forest Service crewmember Bill Scripp finishes the job of sawing downed trees at Forest Park in Queens, NY on Nov. 4, 2012 to make passage safe for residents. The park is a major walking thoroughfare, including popular recreational trails. Bill Scripp belongs to the Wayne National Forest, in Ohio Valley, OH. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.

All this week, Americans are pausing to reflect on the devastation caused when Hurricane Sandy slammed ashore on the eastern seaboard.  Over 160 people died, property was damaged, lives were disrupted, families were torn apart and jobs were affected.

USDA helped the recovery effort in a number of ways, and while we are proud of our work, we also learned from the experience in order to assist those affected by future catastrophes.

Our first task was helping those who were facing hunger.  Following a disaster, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) provides nutrition assistance to disaster survivors through disaster USDA Foods Distribution Programs and by authorizing the implementation of the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D­ SNAP).  In addition, FNS approves waivers that simplify the SNAP benefit replacement process to aid ongoing SNAP households affected by a disaster. Read more »

Farm to School Programs Come to Life on Video

In this video from Georgia Organics kids take a survey after tasting new foods.

In this video from Georgia Organics kids take a survey after tasting new foods.

Right before the Academy Awards I race around trying to see all the films that have been nominated. And right about now, with Farm to School Month about to come to a close, I’m feeling the same way about trying to absorb all the great information being shared this month.

As the USDA Farm to School Census shows, schools across the country are putting local foods on the school menu at breakfast, lunch and dinner; taking trips to the farm; integrating lessons about food and agriculture into the school’s curriculum; and sowing seeds in school gardens.

Lucky for me, and you, more and more school districts are documenting their good work through film. I took a break recently and got caught up. Here are just a few videos that I’d nominate for an Academy Award if there were a category for “Best Local Lunch Video.” Read more »

Local Food Makes the Grade: Farm to School and Beyond

If you are a regular USDA blog reader, you’ve heard about the new Farm to School Census, which shows the national farm to school footprint down to the school district level.  With farm to school purchases topping $350 million across the country and over 38,000 schools nationwide participating in farm to school activities, local food is making marks in schools.

But who produces all that local food?  How does the food make it from the farm to the lunch tray?  How are farmers and ranchers getting the support they need to take advantage of this, and other, blossoming local food market opportunities?  What role does the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and our federal partners play in the local food system? Read more »

Public TV Series Showcases NRCS, Working Lands for Wildlife

The bog turtle is one of America’s rarest, and NRCS and private landowners are working together to boost populations.

The bog turtle is one of America’s rarest, and NRCS and private landowners are working together to boost populations.

Private landowners have voluntarily restored more than 3.5 million acres of habitat to help seven at-risk species, such as the prairie chicken and bog turtle. And their stories will be highlighted this fall by “This American Land,” a public television series.

The new episode was released today (Oct. 28) and available on public TV stations across the United States.

The segment, called “Prairie Chickens and Bog Turtles,” will feature fifth-generation Kansas rancher Roy Beeley who has worked to help the lesser prairie chicken, an iconic bird of the southern Great Plains. Loss of habitat has caused the species to be proposed as a threatened species for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Read more »