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Reducing Sodium, Boosting Health for our Nation’s Schoolchildren

What's Shaking infographic

USDA’s new infographic depicts the public health importance of sodium reduction, and provides tips for school nutrition professionals on reducing the sodium content of school meals. (Click to enlarge)

Reducing sodium in school meals is an important part of a broader effort to scale back sodium intake for all Americans.  To that end, our nation’s school nutrition professionals are actively working to lower the sodium content in our children’s meals during the school day.  Many schools have already achieved USDA’s sodium targets, thanks to student feedback on menu planning, changes in recipes and products, and sharing best practices with their colleagues.

The benefits of reducing sodium are significant and supported by science, which indicates overconsumption can lead to heart disease and other chronic conditions.  Through the What’s Shaking? sodium reduction initiative, USDA has teamed with our partners across the country to make a healthful difference for our nation’s children and for their futures. Read more »

New Resource Provides A Key to Unlock Tips on Healthy Aging

New 10 Tips Resource, “Choosing Healthy Meals As You Get Older” infographic

New 10 Tips Resource, “Choosing Healthy Meals As You Get Older” infographic. (Click to enlarge)

Just in time for the 2015 White House Conference on Aging, the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion and National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health,  are co-publishing a new resource, “Choosing Healthy Meals as You Get Older: 10 Healthy Eating Tips for People Age 65+” to provide practical advice about enjoying healthy meals no matter what your age. Our bodies change through our 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond and making healthy food choices is a smart thing to do at any age!

As you get older, food is the best way to get nutrients you need.  It’s important to find sensible, flexible ways to choose and prepare tasty meals. Eating is more enjoyable when you are with others, so try to make your meals a social event.  There are many ways to make mealtimes pleasing. Read more »

USDA Conservation Innovation Grant Helps Rice Growers Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Voluntarily Participate in California’s Carbon Market

Poly pipe and alternate wetting and drying

Arkansas Rice Growers implement precise water management to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by utilizing poly pipe and alternate wetting and drying. Photo credit: Adam Chambers.

Imagine a rice farmer in Arkansas altering his water management techniques to deliver water more efficiently and use fewer days of flooding, allowing for more precise water and nutrient management while maintaining consistent yields. After a decision by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), in addition to improving water quality and reducing water use and nutrient input costs, that Arkansas farmer now has the option of selling carbon credits to large regulated emitters in California.   

In 2012, California put in place a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions, one of the most aggressive climate change programs in the world. Last week’s groundbreaking vote by CARB adopted the first crop-based agricultural offset protocol, designed to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions from rice production. Methane and nitrous oxide are potent greenhouse gases emitted through the cultivation and fertilization of rice fields. Read more »

Restoring Fire to Oklahoma’s Priority Forest Landscapes

Trees in Oklahoma

Many of Oklahoma’s woodlands developed where natural or man-caused fires were essential in regenerating new trees, controlling invasive species and improving overall forest health. (USFS photo)

(This post was written by George Geissler, State Forester of Oklahoma Forestry Services)

Forest Action Plans represent the first-ever comprehensive assessment of America’s forest resources across all lands—public, private, rural, and urban—and offer proactive strategies that state forestry agencies use to conserve, protect and enhance the trees and forests we depend on.

The Forest Action Plans are invaluable at a time when tree mortality is on the rise due to disease and invasive pests; wildfires continue to increase in size and intensity; and forests are being permanently converted to non-forest uses at a rate of one million acres per year. These assessments help state forestry agencies employ a variety of tools for protecting and conserving forests and the benefits they provide to people, from quarantines related to invasive species, to practices to reduce hazardous fuels buildup, to enhanced landowner outreach and education on sound forestry practices. Read more »

USDA Grain Inspectors Work to Uphold America’s Reputation for Quality, Support New Markets

Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture Elvis Cordova touring the newly renovated control room at the Louis Dreyfus elevator at the port of Houston

Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture Elvis Cordova tours the newly renovated control room at the Louis Dreyfus elevator at the port of Houston. (USDA Photo)

As America’s leadership role in the global economy increases, shipments of American grain, oil seeds, and related agricultural products could continue expanding into promising markets in some of the world’s most robust economies. Facilitating the marketing of U.S. grain exports by thorough inspection and weight certification in accordance with Federal law is the job of the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA) through its Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS).

A team of dedicated professionals located around the country ensures that America remains competitive in the world agricultural market by upholding the quality of U.S. grain as well as the integrity of U.S. grading standards. Working shifts around the clock in export elevators loading ocean vessels and in interior locations loading shipping containers along the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, on coastal and other locations, FGIS personnel along with delegated states and designated agencies inspect and weigh grain arriving daily by truck, rail, and barge for domestic markets and export by cargo ships. Once loading is complete, FGIS inspectors provide an official certificate backed by the reputation and authority of the U.S. Government. Read more »

USDA Employee Named “Recovery Champion” for Oregon Chub Conservation Efforts

The Oregon Chub on a person's hand

The Oregon Chub. (Courtesy of the Natural Resources Conservation Service)

The Oregon Chub is making waves in history. This February, it became the first fish to be delisted from the Endangered Species List because of recovery (not extinction).

This success is directly attributable to more than 20 years of hard work by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), private landowners and other conservation partners.

While many people were involved in the recovery effort, the USFWS recognized 12 professionals who represent outstanding leadership in their respective agencies to recover the species. These individuals were honored during a “Recovery Champions” awards ceremony May 28 at the Finley National Wildlife Refuge in Corvallis, Oregon. Read more »