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Audit-Based Beef Grading Can Mean Better Efficiency, Lower Costs

Consumers and industry look for the USDA grade shields as trusted symbols of wholesome, high-quality American beef. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the agency responsible for grading, continues to explore ways to more efficiently conduct business. Most recently, we used beef instrumentation grading technology to initiate an audit-based Beef Grading Pilot Program at a facility in Toppenish, Washington in August 2012.

Although beef instrumentation grading technology has been in use for several years, it has not reduced the number of graders required at each grading facility until now.  By working with the Meat Graders’ Union, we were able to come to an agreement to pilot a program that would have beef industry employees trained to interpret and apply the Official USDA Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef under the oversight of a USDA meat grader. Read more »

Threatened Sea Bird with a Catchy Name

A Marbled Murrelet floats on the sea. (Photo by: Martin Raphael, U.S. Forest Service)

A Marbled Murrelet floats on the sea. (Photo by: Martin Raphael, U.S. Forest Service)

Marbled murrelets are not the background singers in a ‘60s band. Rather, they are a native sea bird species whose population south of Canada is declining.

Like the Pacific Northwest’s iconic northern spotted owl, this small seabird’s nesting habitat may be threatened by the loss of coastal old-growth forests in that region, according to a report co-authored by scientists from the U.S. Forest Service and published in The Condor. Read more »

In Kentucky, a Model for Relevance

Lincoln Manufacturing USA, LLC employee, Jeff Burkett, explains product details to Kentucky State Director Tom Fern, RBS Administrator Lillian Salerno, and RBS program director in Kentucky, Jeff Jones. USDA photos.

Lincoln Manufacturing USA, LLC employee, Jeff Burkett, explains product details to Kentucky State Director Tom Fern, RBS Administrator Lillian Salerno, and RBS program director in Kentucky, Jeff Jones. USDA photos.

Kentucky is well-known for its “bluegrass” lands, horses, bountiful agriculture and mountainous hills in the Appalachian region of America. A region historically challenged economically. But today, it is a region on the cusp of new economic opportunity. I recently saw first-hand how the region’s collaborative approach to economic development is unleashing a blazoned entrepreneurial spirit that serves as a model for re-establishing the relevance of rural America to our global economy. Read more »

When a Tree is More than Just Pretty

In addition to improving the look and feel of a neighborhood, trees help lower energy costs, conserve landscape water use, reduce storm-water runoff and store carbon. (Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station photo).

In addition to improving the look and feel of a neighborhood, trees help lower energy costs, conserve landscape water use, reduce storm-water runoff and store carbon. (Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station photo).

Many people like to add trees to their landscaping to enhance the design of a well-planned yard.

But, it can mean so much more.

Planting trees on your property can lower energy costs and increase carbon storage, reducing your carbon footprint while making your home the show-stopper of the neighborhood. Read more »

Crisis in the Citrus Groves

Washington navel oranges growing in a Florida citrus grove.  Photo courtesy of ARS.

Washington navel oranges growing in a Florida citrus grove. Photo courtesy of ARS.

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 profile.

Kermit the Frog often reminded us that “It’s not easy being green”—but in Florida’s citrus groves, being green isn’t just difficult, it’s downright disastrous. Read more »

Norfolk, Nebraska Area Habitat for Humanity and USDA Partner to Provide Affordable Housing

Donald Parkos on porch of his new home, funded in part through USDA.

Donald Parkos on porch of his new home, funded in part through USDA.

The Norfolk, Nebraska Area Habitat for Humanity (NAHFH) wanted to expand the impact of its home construction program, and get a more immediate return on investment so it could help the greatest number of people in need. USDA Rural Development was the agency NAHFH felt was best met that need. Read more »