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A Sweet Camp for Native Youth

Maple syrup collection in a sugar bush

Maple syrup collection in a sugar bush. NIFA grants support camps that allow tribal youth to experience cultural tradition while learning about plant science. (iStock image)

Many children look forward to gathering pumpkins in the fall. For some Native American children, another well-loved tradition is gathering maple syrup in early spring.  USDA’s National Institute of Food and Nutrition (NIFA) provides grants to support a unique camp where reservation youth can experience their cultural traditions while learning plant science.

Maple syrup is one of the oldest agricultural products in the United States and is one of the foods the first Americans shared with European settlers. Dr. Steven Dahlberg, director of Extension at White Earth Tribal and Community College (WETCC), used part of a $100,000 NIFA’s Tribal College Extension Grant to support four seasonal camps for at-risk youth, including one where they learn to keep their traditions alive at sugar bush camps.  A “sugar bush” is a grove of maple trees used to produce syrup. Participants also discover how to transform watery maple sap into the syrup we know and love.  In Minnesota, the Fond du Lac, Leech Lake, and White Earth tribes hold sugar bush camps in spring when most trees are full of sap.  No fancy machinery is required here; campers use the traditional method of cooking sap over a wood fire, where it often takes days to process the syrup. Read more »

USDA Continues to Expand Local and Regional Market Data

Organic tomatoes on  display at the La Montanita Co-op in Albuquerque, NM.

USDA Market News is now issuing a new weekly National Retail Report covering local and organic products. This report covers online advertisement surveys highlighting local or organic foods from about 534 retailers and over 29,000 stores nationwide. The report features advertised prices for fruits and vegetables, livestock, poultry, and dairy products. USDA photo courtesy of Bob Nichols.

Are you in the market for data covering locally and regionally produced agricultural products?  You are not alone.  Consumer demand for local and regional food products continues to soar, with retail sales at an estimated $6.1 billion in 2012.  Thanks to support from the 2014 Farm Bill, USDA Market News created a series of market reports on locally or regionally produced agricultural products. 

USDA Market News – administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – provides unbiased, reliable data that serves as the information lifeline for America’s agricultural economy.  The reports for local and regional food outlets – available on the Local & Regional Food Marketing Information webpage – provide farmers, agricultural businesses, and consumers with a one-stop-shop for market and pricing information. Read more »

No-Till and Cover Crops from a Farmer’s Point of View

Jamie Scott participated in a roundtable on climate change and agriculture with USDA Secretary Vilsack in East Lansing, Michigan on April 23rd, 2015. Mr. Scott is the Chairman of the Kosciusko County Soil and Water Conservation District and currently serves as the Vice-President of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Alongside my father Jim, I operate JA Scott Farms. Together we grow approximately 2,000 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat in Kosciusko County, Indiana. One-hundred percent of those acres are planted using a no-till conservation cropping system that incorporates cover crops every winter.

We use this approach to take advantage of the soil health benefits of no-till and cover crops. We have higher yields, richer soil, and improved water holding capacity. I am also encouraged that these practices can remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil. We have found that these benefits outweigh the added expense of labor and cover crop seeds. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack Announces Partnerships with Farmers and Ranchers to Address Climate Change

America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners understand the threats that a changing climate can have on their operations and on their bottom line. As the world warms, that warming triggers many other changes to the Earth’s climate, including an increase in extreme events. Over the last 50 years, much of the U.S. has seen increases in excessively high temperatures, heavy downpours, and in some regions, severe floods and droughts. These events can drastically impact the agriculture and forestry sectors.  

Today, I announced USDA’s comprehensive plan to tackle these challenges by working with partners and producers on a voluntary basis to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance carbon sequestration in agriculture and forestry by over 120 million metric tons over the next 10 years. Our strategy lays the foundation for agriculture and forestry to be part of the climate change solution. The plan will encourage farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to set an example for the world by showing that climate-friendly conservation practices can benefit the environment, individual farms and forest operations, and the economy as a whole. Read more »

Helping Businesses Grow: NWRC Wins 2015 Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer

Engineers from Applied Design Corporation in Colorado test the delivery of aerial bait cartridges

Engineers from Applied Design Corporation in Colorado test the delivery of aerial bait cartridges from a helicopter. Photo by USDA.

John Eisemann spends much of his time on the phone or in meetings talking to USDA National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC, Center) partners and stakeholders.  As the Technology Transfer Program Manager for the Center, John works with private companies, international groups, and non-governmental organizations to encourage the development and licensing of new wildlife damage management products.

The Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986 changed how Federal Government research and development entities, like NWRC, do business. The Act allows Federal laboratories and industry to form commercial partnerships that enhance the development of new technologies and move them to the marketplace to meet public and consumer needs. Read more »

Oregon Agriculture is a Festival for Foodies

Oregon State Infographic

Oregon Berries ripe for the eating - out of hand, in jams and jellies and pie, oh my! Check back next week for another state spotlight drawn from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

Living and traveling in Oregon offers many great opportunities – from exploring the vast outdoors, to discovering Portland’s hotspots, to treating your taste buds to a festival of locally-grown foods. With more than 230 agricultural commodities raised in our state, Oregon agriculture delivers a festival for foodies according to the latest Census of Agriculture. Whether you are visiting the state or are an Oregonian, this means you have great access to buy and enjoy Oregon Agriculture!

According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, the value of Oregon’s agricultural products reached nearly $5 billion. Of that, $44.2 million was from direct sales to consumers through places such as farmers markets, roadside stands and community supported agriculture programs (CSAs). Also, 1,898 farms marketed products directly to retailers, including Oregon restaurants featuring farm-to-table menus. So if you are looking to shop and eat in our state, we have an abundance of delicious, fresh and local options. Read more »