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New Ag Statistics Showcase Importance of U.S. Agriculture

Troy Joshua, Environmental, Economics, and Demographics Branch Chief at the National Agricultural Statistics Service briefs results from the Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production report at the 2015 Agricultural Outlook Forum. The report is part of the agency’s new Current Agricultural Industrial Reports program which provides a glimpse into the processing of agricultural products including fuels, cooking oils, flour, and fabric. Photo by USDA/NASS.

Troy Joshua, Environmental, Economics, and Demographics Branch Chief at the National Agricultural Statistics Service briefs results from the Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production report at the 2015 Agricultural Outlook Forum. The report is part of the agency’s new Current Agricultural Industrial Reports program which provides a glimpse into the processing of agricultural products including fuels, cooking oils, flour, and fabric. Photo by USDA/NASS.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research profile.

At the recent Agricultural Outlook Forum I had the pleasure of speaking with hundreds of people regarding a new program I’m very excited about: the Current Agricultural Industrial Reports (CAIR). Here at NASS, we publish hundreds of reports every year on inventory, production, and values of U.S. agriculture products. The CAIR program takes us a step beyond. CAIR provides a glimpse into the processing of agricultural products such as fuels, cooking oils, flour, and fabric.

Data from the CAIR program are important to U.S. economic policy. Better data means better markets analysis, better strategic planning, better forecasting, and more well-informed business decisions and policies. That impacts every citizen. Read more »

Frost on the Chickens

Robert Frost (1874-1963), one of the most popular and respected American poets of the twentieth century, was also a chicken farmer and egg producer in New Hampshire. Photo by Fred Palumbo, 1941, Library of Congress.

Robert Frost (1874-1963), one of the most popular and respected American poets of the twentieth century, was also a chicken farmer and egg producer in New Hampshire. Photo by Fred Palumbo, 1941, Library of Congress.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research profile.

A phone call to USDA’s National Agricultural Library (NAL) seeking the original magazines with Robert Frost’s first published prose has now given rise to the library’s newest online exhibit. But why did a Frost aficionado call an agricultural library looking for these?

Because, before Robert Frost became ROBERT FROST, he was a chicken farmer with 300 white Wyandotte hens from 1900 to 1909 in Derry, New Hampshire. However, Frost wasn’t ever really a good fit for farming—he had serious hay fever, for one—and coops and eggs were a long way from four Pulitzer prizes for poetry. Read more »

Cutting Edge Genetics Research for Wildlife and Fish Conservation

Kellie Carim, eDNA coordinator for the Genomics Center, collects and processes samples. (Photos by Michael Schwartz (left) and Todd Cross, U.S. Forest Service)

Kellie Carim, eDNA coordinator for the Genomics Center, collects and processes samples. (Photos by Michael Schwartz (left) and Todd Cross, U.S. Forest Service)

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research profile.

The U.S. Forest Service has a long history as a leader in conservation genetics, and this recently took an exciting step forward with the launch of the National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation.

The Forest Service’s wildlife genetics lab, which has been central to the Rocky Mountain Research Station’s conservation genetics program since 1998, has been reorganized and renamed to better reflect the scope of its work nationwide. The Center is a leading edge facility for advanced genomics research, nationally recognized, and works extensively with states, tribes, universities and private groups to address the management issues of over 60 fish and wildlife species. Read more »

Save Energy with USDA Rural Development

The recently installed solar panels on the roof of Ideal Dairy in Richfield, Utah save them around $400 per month in utility costs on average.

The recently installed solar panels on the roof of Ideal Dairy in Richfield, Utah save them around $400 per month in utility costs on average.

Last month, Secretary Vilsack announced the opening of the new application cycle for our Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). In addition to the announcement, RBS conducted a national REAP stakeholder forum which discussed program changes and provided examples of successful projects from previous years.

For example, Ideal Dairy restaurant of Richfield, Utah used a REAP grant to leverage a loan from Zions Bank and install an array of solar panels on the roof of its retail location. The addition has saved an average of $400 a month in electricity expenditures for owners Kristi and Gary Sorenson. A larger scale solar project in Guayanila, Puerto Rico allowed a major employer – Master Paints and Chemicals Corporation – to completely offset its $180,000 annual energy expenses and give it independence from fossil fuel-based energy. Read more »

On the Right Side of the Promise

As a school kid during the first years of desegregation in the public schools of Austin, Texas, much of my experience of the world around me was shaped by color. I saw and experienced firsthand how discrimination and inequality can stunt and hold back too many Americans–not only through violence, but the more subtle, life-altering trauma of discrimination.

I’ve also seen how inclusion and understanding have the power to lift up individuals and communities and help them heal. Read more »

USDA and Pheasants Forever Renew Partnership to Conservation

FSA Administrator Val Dolcini speaks at the 2015 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic.

FSA Administrator Val Dolcini speaks at the 2015 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic.

I recently attended the 2015 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic in Des Moines, Iowa, where I met with sportsmen, farmers, young people, wildlife biologists and others who are committed to strengthening wildlife habitat throughout America. It was exciting to see firsthand the passion for the native and restored grasslands and woodlands that typify the rural American landscape.

I had the honor of speaking to the group, where I highlighted the 30th anniversary of USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).  CRP, one of the largest private lands conservation programs in the nation, is designed to reduce soil erosion, improve water and air quality, and provide habitat for wildlife. Interested landowners can establish long-term USDA-approved grasses or trees in exchange for USDA helping with the cost of establishing the plants and providing annual payments for 10 to 15 years. The covers along fields, streams and rivers prevent soil and nutrients from washing into waterways, reduce soil erosion that may otherwise contribute to poor air and water quality, and provide valuable habitat for wildlife. Read more »