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Six Reasons SuperTracker Is the Answer to Conquering New Year’s Resolutions

Reach your health goals with SuperTracker.

Reach your health goals with SuperTracker.

If you are like millions of Americans, thinking about New Year’s Resolutions makes your hands sweat.  Don’t worry. USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion has got you covered.

Whether you want to lose weight, get more calcium in your diet, or increase your activity, SuperTracker is here to help. With these six steps, you’ll be well on your way to making your New Year’s Resolution a reality! Read more »

Digging Those Dinosaurs on National Forests, Grasslands

Young people are made honorary junior paleontologists in the rotunda of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. (Courtesy The Smithsonian Institution)

Young people are made honorary junior paleontologists in the rotunda of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. (Courtesy The Smithsonian Institution)

When most folks think about our grand and beautiful national forests they probably don’t conjure up images of a fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex munching on his morning prey or a gentle Brachiosaurus chewing enough leaves to nearly fell a small forest just to fill her vegetarian stomach.

But millions of years ago this was exactly what was happening on lands that today comprise national forests and grasslands like the Thunder Basin National Grassland. Read more »

U.S. Softwood Exports Making Headway in Thailand

A delegation of Thai lumber company executives (including Opas Panitchewakul, Pracha Thawornjira, Jaroonsak Cheewatammanon, Khomwit Boonthamrongkit and Wasant Sonchaiwanich) tours the Mauvila Timber distribution warehouse in Loxly, Ala., with Lane Merchant (left), the company’s general manager.

A delegation of Thai lumber company executives (including Opas Panitchewakul, Pracha Thawornjira, Jaroonsak Cheewatammanon, Khomwit Boonthamrongkit and Wasant Sonchaiwanich) tours the Mauvila Timber distribution warehouse in Loxly, Ala., with Lane Merchant (left), the company’s general manager.

The pine forests of Georgia and the Pacific Northwest are a far cry from the crowded streets of Bangkok, where several shipments of U.S. softwood products are headed thanks to a collaborative effort by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the Southern Forest Products Association and the Softwood Export Council.

In June 2014, executives from five Thai lumber companies visited the United States under the auspices of FAS’s Cochran Fellowship Program. Thanks to the knowledge they gained and the relationships they forged with the U.S. softwood industry during their visit, several participants subsequently made first-time purchases of U.S. softwood. These initial purchases are a big step for U.S. softwood producers to make headway into the $58 million market in Thailand. Read more »

Event at USDA Ushers in 2015 as the International Year of Soils

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) celebration of the International Year of Soils event at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) celebration of the International Year of Soils event at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

Yesterday, we officially launched the International Year of Soils here at USDA.

Most people don’t realize that just beneath their feet lies a diverse, complex, life-giving ecosystem that sustains our entire existence. I’m talking about soil. There are more living organisms in a single teaspoon of healthy soil than there are people on the earth.

Our soils are alive. We talk about soil health – not soil quality — on purpose. It’s an important distinction. Anything can have a “quality,” but only living things can have health. Read more »

New York’s City Harvest Wins U.S. Food Waste Challenge Competition

City Harvest rescues excess food using a fleet of 19 refrigerated trucks, three cargo bikes, over 150 full-time employees, and more than 8,000 volunteers. In fiscal year 2015, they will collect 50 million pounds of food, greater than the total amount of food collected in its first 14 years combined. Seventy-five percent of this total will be comprised of nutrient dense foods, including fresh produce, meat and dairy. Photo courtesy of City Harvest.

City Harvest rescues excess food using a fleet of 19 refrigerated trucks, three cargo bikes, over 150 full-time employees, and more than 8,000 volunteers. In fiscal year 2015, they will collect 50 million pounds of food, greater than the total amount of food collected in its first 14 years combined. Seventy-five percent of this total will be comprised of nutrient dense foods, including fresh produce, meat and dairy. Photo courtesy of City Harvest.

Beginning in August, food banks across the country competed to see who could sign up the most food donors to the U.S. Food Waste Challenge.  From among the 200 food banks in the Feeding America network, the champion is City Harvest in New York City, which won by signing up 114 donors to the Challenge.  City Harvest will have a private meeting with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and will be awarded six suite tickets to attend either an NBA or NHL game at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.  The tickets were donated by Monumental Sports and Entertainment (MSE), owner of the Washington Capitals, Mystics, Wizards, and Verizon Center.  Since 2011, MSE has recovered and donated 7,377 pounds of wholesome unsold food from its events to D.C. Central Kitchen, which translates to approximately 5,600 meals.

“We appreciate City Harvest’s longstanding commitment to food rescue and congratulate them for signing up the most food donors to the U.S. Food Waste Challenge,” said Secretary Vilsack.  “The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on earth, but too much of this food goes to waste. Organizations like City Harvest get this food to people who need it while reducing the amount of food that ends up in our country’s landfills.” Read more »

The USDA Climate Hubs: Almost One Year Old and Making Progress

The USDA Climate Hubs are almost one year old!  Since February of 2014, we have made considerable progress by developing networks that connect researchers to landowners; by evaluating available tools that can help land managers with management decisions regarding risk management; by synthesizing regional risks and vulnerabilities; and we have learned a lot along the way.

The Hubs are about developing and delivering science-based, region-specific information and technologies, with the help of USDA agencies and partners, to agricultural and natural resource managers and communities.  Land managers and communities desire healthy, resilient, productive, and profitable agricultural or natural ecosystems that are sustainable over time. The Hubs’ role is to work with (and as) advisers to land managers by providing information and tools to help them achieve their goals in an environment filled with climate-related stresses and risks.  The Hubs’ initial focus is on communicating with our stakeholders and developing networks with our partners. This includes communicating research to Certified Crop Advisors, relaying stakeholder needs to science organizations, or just making sure the lines of communication are open among the respective science and information providers and managers of working lands. Read more »