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USDA Seeks Variety to Help American Agriculture Flourish

Gardeners, farmers and dreamers are finding it’s a good time to think about the variety of seeds and plants for spring. AMS Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO) grants certificates of intellectual property protection to encourage the development of new varieties of plants. Photo courtesy of Stacey Shintani.

Gardeners, farmers and dreamers are finding it’s a good time to think about the variety of seeds and plants for spring. AMS Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO) grants certificates of intellectual property protection to encourage the development of new varieties of plants. Photo courtesy of Stacey Shintani.

While most of the country is braving cold and blustery winter conditions, farmers and gardeners are busy looking ahead to the spring. They are contemplating the variety of seeds or the plants that they will use. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) increases the options for our farmers, gardeners, and plant breeders by making sure there is an abundance of varieties available.

We do this through our Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO), which grants certificates of intellectual property protection to developers of new plant varieties. These certificates enable breeders to market their variety exclusively for 20 years. The protection is an incentive for the development of new and improved varieties. Read more »

Penalty Free Chicken Wings for Game Day

Chicken wings with celery.

Chicken wings with celery.

The star of most Super Bowl parties is the chicken wing, crispy and covered in a delicious sauce. If you are going to make wings for your Super Bowl party, follow these steps to make sure your dinner’s star player is safe to eat. You don’t want to get a penalty for giving your guests food poisoning. Read more »

A Century of Skiing With the US Forest Service

A woman poses atop a U.S. Forest Service sign after 5 feet of snow accumulated at Berthoud Pass Winter Sports Area on the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forests. (U.S. Forest Service/Jay Higgins)

A woman poses atop a U.S. Forest Service sign after 5 feet of snow accumulated at Berthoud Pass Winter Sports Area on the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forests. (U.S. Forest Service/Jay Higgins)

For the third time, the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships have returned to the White River National Forest in Colorado, placing special emphasis on the importance of ski area development on national forests throughout America’s history.

Each year millions of visitors ski and snowboard down the snowy slopes of the ski resorts spread across the White River National Forest, and at ski resorts on forests across the nation – 122 resorts that together boast more than 180,000 skiable acres. The Forest Service averages 23 million visits annually to ski areas, contributing $3 billion to local economies annually and creating approximately 65,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs. Read more »

Helping Ag Businesses Reflect on their Accomplishments and Look to the Future

Lamb Locator screenshot

The American Lamb Board’s Lamb Locator provides locations where lamb fans can enjoy this tasty product. Not only does the Lamb Locator list farmers markets, grocers, butchers and restaurants selling American lamb, it also includes a list of wholesale suppliers. Photo courtesy of the American Lamb Board.

Reflection, celebration, and ambition are hallmarks of entering a new year. We reflect on the challenges we faced, celebrate our accomplishments, and set goals for the future. For businesses, a common goal is finding new ways to satisfy ever-changing consumer demands. Our nation’s farmers and ranchers rely on research and promotion programs to help meet these demands, connecting consumers to their quality products. With a focus on highlighting quality products and building consumer trust, many research and promotion groups embarked on new initiatives and continued to expand on others in 2014.

Success for agricultural businesses often depends on their ability to provide consumers more information. The American Lamb Board accomplishes this by providing locations where lamb fans can enjoy this tasty product. Not only does the Lamb Locator list farmers markets, grocers, butchers and restaurants selling American lamb, it also includes a list of wholesale suppliers. Making this information available to the public helps more and more people enjoy quality lamb products that are produced by American farmers and ranchers. Read more »

Summer Sunshine Award Winners!

FNS staff participating in a Summer Food Service Program Kick-off event

On June 13, 2013, FNS staff participated in a Summer Food Service Program Kick-off event in Sacramento, CA.

It may be the middle of winter, but at USDA, we like to celebrate the success of our Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) all year long.  Therefore, the Western Regional Office is thrilled to announce the winners and honorable mentions of the 2014 Summer Sunshine Awards.  A total of eight organizations across the region received Sunshine Awards in 4 unique categories in recognition of their standout efforts in operating the SFSP.  The programs impact in local communities depends on the hard work of state agencies, partnering organizations, local sites and sponsors.  These awards only begin to show our appreciation for the dedication, innovation, and passion behind the respective organizations.

In the category of Strategies to Promote Nutrition and Wellness, California’s Riverside Unified School District was awarded the honor for employing innovative strategies by collaborating with local partners to provide nutrition education and physical activities at summer meal sites. The Boys and Girls Club of Ada County in Idaho was also awarded the distinction for their incorporation of fresh local produce into summer meals and offering opportunities for physical activity to children at their summer meal sites. Read more »

Allegheny Helps Protect a Special Rattler’s Home

A timber rattlesnake captured in a tube will be fitted with a transmitter in order to discover and protect new dens. (U.S. Forest Service)

A timber rattlesnake captured in a tube will be fitted with a transmitter in order to discover and protect new dens. (U.S. Forest Service)

Throughout history, literature and movies, snakes have taken a hit in the public relations department. Think of Cleopatra and the legend of the deadly asp, or the various snakes so feared by a seemingly fearless Indiana Jones in a series of movies by the same name. Then, there is “Snakes on a Plane,” a horrifying look at being stuck on an airplane thousands of feet over the Pacific Ocean as hundreds of deadly and poisonous snakes crawl about.

Not surprisingly, ophidiophobia is rather common. But the fear of snakes in many cases is unwarranted and based on misinformation. Read more »