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Learn How to Bee a Friend during USDA’s Pollinator Festival this Friday, June 24

National Pollinator Week Festival graphic

USDA will be celebrating National Pollinator Week on Friday, June 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside USDA Headquarters along 12th St., Washington, D.C.

The best time to bee a friend to pollinators is now! Today is the first day of summer and the launch of National Pollinator Week, June 20-26. Around the globe, people are celebrating with events that emphasize the importance of pollinators and teach ways to save them. Here at USDA, we’ve issued the National Pollinator Week Proclamation and are hosting our seventh annual Pollinator Week Festival this Friday, June 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside USDA Headquarters in Washington, DC.

The festival highlights the work of USDA agencies, other federal departments and institutions such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Smithsonian Gardens, and the U.S. Botanic Garden, who along with partners like the National Honey Board, Pollinator Partnership and University of Maryland Extension are working to address pollinator decline. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack Visits Puerto Rico to Talk Climate Change and Caribbean Agriculture

Plantains growing in Gurabo, Puerto Rico

Plantains growing in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. Photo by Duamed Colón.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the Caribbean Climate Hub in Puerto Rico earlier this month to lead a roundtable discussions with local agricultural officials, farmers and ranchers, USDA agency leaders, economic investors, and scientists, and to view first-hand the Hub’s pioneering work in climate change research, education and outreach.

“Adaptation to climate change is a matter of National Security.  We need to have a functional food economy to counter food insecurity,” said Secretary Vilsack during the Climate Hub Roundtable held at the El Yunque National Forest.  Local USDA agency leaders expressed concern about the increasing incidence of pests and diseases affecting agriculture and forestry in the Caribbean, mostly related to climate change, and the need for more education and support for water and soil conservation measures. Read more »

Get Outdoors and Enjoy the Age-Old Tradition of Ghost Stories by the Campfire

Ghost stories illustration

Ghost stories illustration by Mary Horning, US Forest Service.

Shadows start falling fast while you scurry to gather the last scraps of dead wood before it’s too dark – and too scary – to leave the relative security of the campsite on your favorite National Forest or Grassland. But, once the fire is safely lit, everyone gathers around to start roasting marshmallows and listen to…ghost stories!

No one really knows when or how the tradition of telling scary ghost stories around a campfire began. It just did, and we really like to do it. In fact, there are many books out there that provide those with less creative story telling talents to get a group of outdoors enthusiasts nervously shifting their eyes and jumping at the sound of what was certainly a twig being broken by the heavy foot of a monstrous creature in the night or, yes, even a clumsy ghost. Read more »

Summer Meals: Fueling Children and Teens to Reach Their Highest Potential

Under Secretary Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon with children

For more than 40 years, USDA has been committed to closing the food security gap that occurs in the summer months when children no longer have access to the nutritious meals they’re offered in school.

As I travel across the country visiting our nation’s summer meals sites, I am proud of the commitment we’ve collectively made to nourish both the bodies and minds of our country’s children and teens. Schools, recreation centers, places of worship, libraries and other community sites have generously opened their doors to ensure kids receive healthy, balanced meals during the summer months – a time when many low-income families struggle to provide their children nutritious meals and snacks each and every day.

At USDA we’ve long recognized summer as a vulnerable time for kids and have been focused on closing the food security gap that occurs during the months when school is out of session.  Since 2009, more than 1.2 billion meals have been served through the Summer Meal Programs, fueling kids and teens throughout the summer and helping to ensure they are healthy and ready to learn when the school year begins. Read more »

Exports: Getting Into the Game

A trade show

With the support of FAS and its partners, U.S. organic producers market their wares to international buyers at SIAL Paris, one of the world’s largest food and beverage trade shows.

Whether you are new to exporting or your company has been in the business for years, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and its partners can help you build markets for your products around the globe. FAS offers a variety of services and programs that help U.S. agricultural exporters succeed in the global marketplace. From facilitating relationships with potential foreign buyers, to providing technical and financial assistance, FAS resources and expertise link U.S. agriculture to a world of opportunities.

For those new to exporting, a great place to start is with the State Regional Trade Group (SRTG) that covers your area. FAS supports four of these nonprofit organizations, which in turn assist U.S. food and agricultural businesses with the entire exporting process. Your SRTG can help you learn the fundamentals of exporting, identify overseas opportunities and market your products through trade shows and trade missions. With FAS support, SRTGs also help fund international marketing campaigns and promote U.S. farm and food products overseas. FAS and SRTGs work closely together with the ultimate goal of helping U.S. food and agricultural interests build a global business. Here’s more information about the STRGs. Read more »

USDA Market News – Your Source for Retail Commodity Prices

Produce at a grocery store in Fairfax, Virginia

As an unbiased agricultural resource, Market News retail reports help encourage market stability and transparency by promoting healthy competition within the marketplace and providing equal access to market information for small and mid-sized producers and retailers.

Sound business decisions are based off of reliable data, and this is certainly the case for food producers and retailers.  For small and mid-sized producers, access to timely and reliable data can be critical to their success.  Whether they are selling products on the wholesale or retail market, producers need to quickly see the commodities in demand and how much they should be charging for their product or what products are the best buy for shoppers at that moment in time.

The entire agricultural supply chain turns to USDA Market News – administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – for the data they need when they need it.  Serving stakeholders of all sizes and at all levels of trading, from small producer to retailer to consumer, USDA Market News allows producers and purchasers to realistically compare prices, trends, supply and demand from day to day and from market to market across the country.  USDA Market News ensures that no group is disadvantaged by lack of information. Read more »