Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Interactive Map Compares Past and Present Snowpack – Western Snowpack Levels Very Low

Current snowpack map

The new, interactive map lets you compare current snowpack data to historical records.

Western snowpack, where it remains, is in full melt.

All along the Cascades and Sierra Nevada are ski courses that never opened, bare mountains and snowless SNOTEL sites where snowpack is measured. Where snow accumulated, it melted prematurely during a warm March. One of the most common questions for snow surveyors has been: how does this winter compare to the past?

A new, interactive map shows you exactly how it compares. The online map, just released by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, shows regularly updated current conditions – alongside historical records – for the entire NRCS snow survey network. Read more »

USDA Celebrates Mothers, Farmers, and Industry Leaders

Kelly McKnight on horse

“Marketing orders keep farmers talking,” said Kelly McKnight. “Of course we have to think of our individual businesses, but it is essential we work together as well.” Photo courtesy of the Washington Potato Committee.

In honor of Mother’s Day, USDA thanks the nearly 100 wonderful women growers and handlers for dedicating their time and service to their respective industries through our federal fruit and vegetable marketing order committees and boards.  We spoke to a few about being a farmer, mother, and marketing order industry leader.

Kelly McKnight, of the Washington Potato Committee, is a mother of four and a fifth- generation farmer.  McKnight learned the ins and outs of marketing orders from her neighboring potato farmers, alongside an extended network of fellow farmers’ daughters recruited to the committee.  Although the industry is small, McKnight credits the marketing order presence and members for keeping it strong. The committee serves as a network of support, mentorship, and resources, and further builds relationships with related organizations. Read more »

Training Pipeline Quenches Dairy’s Thirst for College Grads

Dairy Cow

The Dairy Education and Training Consortium (USDETC), supported with a National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant, provides hand-on training to college students with backgrounds in dairy science, animal science, and other ag-related concentrations.

USDA’s mission includes working with land grant universities, including minority serving institutions, to ensure continued education in agricultural is available to help fill anticipated demand for knowledgeable employees.  Earlier this week, the Secretary signed an agreement continuing USDA’s support for Historically Black 1890’s Land-Grant Universities.  Today we look at one of the ways USDA partners with Hispanic Serving Institutions.

The business of producing milk shows no signs of slowing down, and a USDA grant is ensuring the pipeline of future industry professionals doesn’t slow to a trickle.

In August 2014, farmers in 23 states produced more than 16.2 billion pounds of milk, up 2.6 percent from 2013. During that same period, the number of cows increased 8.58 million head, up 60,000. Read more »

Lead Climbing Ranger Thrives on His Job

Nick Meyers and his cohort Jonathan Dove, a longtime seasonal climbing ranger on snowmobile patrol

On snowmobile patrol in the Old Ski Bowl on Mount Shasta, Nick Meyers and his cohort Jonathan Dove, a longtime seasonal climbing ranger, stop near a wilderness boundary on the forest to take in the good views on the south side of the mountain. They patrol to ensure recreationalists are not crossing over wilderness boundaries, to assess the snowpack and to provide visitor information on avalanche and over-snow vehicle safety information. They always carry skis while on patrol in case of an emergency, either a rescue or a snowmobile break-down. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Dove)

Nick Meyers has always enjoyed recreation whether it is mountain climbing or biking, kayaking, dirt biking, surfing, kite surfing, fishing, tinkering around the house, landscaping, working on motors, wood working, dog training or backpacking – he is all in.  He also knows the value of working hard.  It is that combination that made this 32-year-old who he is today with one of the most challenging jobs in the U.S. Forest Service as a lead climbing ranger on Mount Shasta on the Shasta -Trinity National Forest  in California.

After getting his education at Feather River College and Western State College in outdoor recreation, Nick got his dream job at 19 on Mount Shasta and has been there ever since. Read more »

In Their Own Words: Secretary Vilsack, Students Reflect on the Future of American Agriculture

During this year’s Agricultural Outlook Forum, Secretary Vilsack sat down with college students participating in the Forum’s Student Diversity Program. Many former participants have gone on to achieve great things in the field of agriculture, which will come as no surprise after you hear what this year’s students told Secretary Vilsack about the future of agriculture and their role in it: Read more »

Fruits and Veggies Now Chock Full of Marketing Power

This carefully chosen celebrity wants you to eat more oranges. Cam Newton, quarterback for the Carolina Panthers.

Cam Newton, quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, is on board with team FNV.

At CNPP, we are passionate about reaching Americans with science-based messages that encourage healthy plates because we know that far too many Americans are not eating enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy.  MyPlate was designed to serve as a strong visual cue to remind Americans to make healthier food and beverage choices at every meal, and we love to see how other partners and organizations are getting the message out about healthy eating. Read below to learn how the Partnership for A Healthier America, a National Strategic Partner, is working with other companies and organizations to make fruits and vegetables a household brand.

Guest post by Elly Spinweber, Director of Communications, Partnership for a Healthier America

This spring, a collaboration of companies, celebrities, athletes and foundations launched FNV—a new brand focused on increasing consumption and sales of fruits and vegetables among teens and moms. Read more »