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

Petroglyphs, Grinding Rocks and Hollywood Meet in NRCS Training Session

Ben Barnette explaining the significance of the rock formation

Ben Barnette explains the significance of the rock formation in a two-day training session. Photo: Chris Robbins.

The day was brisk, the air was fresh, and the subject of the day was captivating. Sixteen Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field conservationists in California had just sat through a day of classroom-style instruction on cultural resources policy, law and identification. Now they trudged along behind California State Archaeologist Ben Barnette to practice their skills in a field setting.

“It all seemed fairly ordinary,” said Soil Conservationist Chris Robbins. “We stopped at a ranch and hiked over to an unremarkable rock formation jutting from the rolling landscape.  But it turned out to be a rock shelter that was used by Native Americans—with plenty of evidence to prove it. They left their marks on the walls as well as pieces of artifacts scattered nearby.” Read more »

Unlocking the Toolkit for Stronger Local Food Systems

El Bosque Garlic Farms' hand-tied garlic

Investing in local food systems creates market opportunities for businesses entrepreneurs to sell fresh local products in unique ways. El Bosque Garlic Farms sells their hand-tied garlic at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. Photo courtesy of Peter Wood, USDA.

Every community wants to support initiatives that promote economic growth and create new jobs, but sometimes it can be hard to decide on the best way to accomplish these goals.  Now there is a new resource to help communities make the economic case for investments in local food. Today, Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of “The Economics of Local Food Systems: A Toolkit to Guide Community Discussions, Assessments and Choices” at the Good Food Festival’s Financing and Innovation Conference in Chicago. Secretary Vilsack highlighted USDA’s continued support of local and regional food systems, much of which is coordinated through USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. Read more »

NIFA Helps Chart National Course for Healthy Nutrition

A female Maine iCook 4-H student with her teacher

Students in the Maine iCook 4-H program learn healthy eating and food preparation habits. (Adrienne White, University of Maine)

Since the economic downturn of 2008, sufficient access to healthy foods has been a serious problem for many Americans. As a result, more than 17 million households confront hunger throughout the year while more than 12 million children are obese.

To address these problems, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has worked with five other USDA agencies to develop science-based food and nutrition strategies. These agencies joined the Interagency Committee on Human Nutrition Research – a collaboration among the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Health and Human Services and several other government agencies – to develop the National Nutrition Research Roadmap (NNRR). This roadmap characterizes and coordinates federally funded nutrition research to identify future research needs and opportunities. Read more »

Eating Right for a Lifetime of Health!

A woman shopping at the grocery store

WIC participants are provided healthy food choices, which provide key nutrients for growth and development.

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) helps build a foundation of healthy eating that continues for a lifetime.

WIC helps moms from the start of their pregnancy grow healthy babies by providing the right mix of nutritious, scientifically-based supplemental foods; promoting healthy eating through nutrition education and counseling; and connecting expectant moms and caregivers to resources such as prenatal care and referrals to other health and social services. WIC continues to provide benefits after moms deliver and to their baby as she/he grows into a toddler and up to age five! Read more »

Kentucky “Landowner of the Year” Makes Conservation a Way of Life

Burchel Blevins holding his Landowner of the Year award

Burchel Blevins of Knox County, was named the ‘Landowner of the Year’ for the southeastern region, by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife.

When Burchel Blevins drives visitors around his rural Kentucky farm, he points out the numerous conservation practices he has implemented to protect and preserve his land. Blevins owns more than 650 forested acres and 70 acres of open forest and grass land in different parts of Knox County, and he’s worked with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for about 15 years.

“You learn a lot working with them,” said Blevins, referring to NRCS staff.

Using NRCS programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program, Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) and the former Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (now part of EQIP), Blevins has made many conservation improvements to his land. Read more »

Public Engagement as Necessary as Math, Science

King Whetstone, (right), regional director of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service Northeastern Regional Field Office, meeting with attendees

King Whetstone, (right), regional director of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service Northeastern Regional Field Office, meets with attendees, Jan. 15, at the 2016 Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the United States.

It goes without saying a successful statistician must have strong math, analytical and technical skills. You might be surprised to learn, then, just how much of my time is dedicated to listening to and talking with people. To be sure, I still use math and science daily. Two decades into my career, however, it’s those intentional, important interactions with farmers who answer my agency’s requests for information, as well with those who use my agency’s data, researchers, analysts and farmers themselves that keep me busiest.

Why? Because NASS is the “go to” source for official government statistics on U.S. agricultural production, economics, land, water, energy, environmental management and farmer demographics. Part of my job includes making sure farmers want to respond to our surveys and censuses and that researchers choose to use our data because it is the most accurate and unbiased. Read more »