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Building Partnerships for Diversity through the B.A.Y.O.U.

Elanor Starmer touring Southern University

AMS helped to establish a meat processing plant on the Southern University campus, giving students hands-on learning and providing resources for USDA Meat Grading and Inspection trainings. AMS staff, Curtis Chisley, gives AMS Administrator Starmer (center) a tour of the facility and talked about a proposed expansion project to increase capacity.

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Louisiana with my Administrator, Elanor Starmer, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), and visit Southern University and A & M College (Southern), an 1890 Land Grant University and Historically Black College. Located on Scott’s Bluff overlooking the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, LA, the campus covers 512 acres, with an agricultural experimental station on an additional 372-acres just north of the main campus.  It is at this university that AMS began a strong partnership in the mid 1980′s to help establish a Beginning Agricultural Youth Opportunities Unlimited (B.A.Y.O.U.) Program.

BAYOU provides an opportunity for high school students to gain “first hand” knowledge about career opportunities in Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences and related disciplines.  With more than a third of career federal employees projected to be eligible for retirement in 2017, programs like B.A.Y.O.U. cultivate and nurture agricultural professionals for the future. Read more »

Showcasing New Opportunities in the Growing Philippines Food and Beverage Market

Dane International Commodities showcasing its products

Dane International Commodities, Inc., a Philippine importer specializing in the supply of U.S. nuts, California raisins, other dried fruits and food ingredients, showcases its products to food franchises attending a marketing event in Manila organized by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

As the largest U.S. food and beverage export market in Southeast Asia and one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, the Philippines is attracting top food franchises. To showcase these new market opportunities, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and U.S. Commercial Service offices in Manila organized a first-ever cooperative marketing event for the country.

Supported by the Philippine Franchise Association and the Hotel and Restaurant Purchasing Managers Association of the Philippines, the event brought together more than 15 importers and 180 key decision makers of U.S. and Philippine-grown food franchises. Not only did the event showcase the availability, quality and uses of U.S. fine foods and beverages, it also linked importers with food franchises and helped them identify market access issues, trends and new trade opportunities. Read more »

EPA Recognizes U.S. Department of Agriculture Among Nation’s Leading Green Power USERS

A 1.6 Megawatt solar farm at the George Washington Carver Center

The 1.6 Megawatt solar farm, located at the George Washington Carver Center in Beltsville, Maryland, helps position USDA to meet President Obama’s Executive Order goal to increase the share of electricity the Federal Government consumes from renewable.

In 2015, USDA launched the answer to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan challenge for food and forestry, with the Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry. Ten building blocks span a range of technologies and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon storage and generate clean renewable energy.  Through the Department’s voluntary and incentive-based conservation and energy programs, USDA and its partners are moving forward to reduce net emissions and enhance carbon sequestration by over 120 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year, or about 2 percent of economy-wide net greenhouse emissions, by 2025. This reduction is the equivalent of taking 25 million cars off the road or offsetting the emissions produced by powering nearly 11 million homes per year.

In keeping with these efforts, USDA too is working to reduce its own carbon footprint.  USDA is proud to be part of the Green Power Partnership, a voluntary program that encourages organizations to use green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with electricity use.  And USDA is even more proud to be recognized as number five on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Top 10 Federal Government list of the largest green power users from the Green Power Partnership. Additionally, USDA is number 43 on the National Top 100 list. Read more »

Open Data Can Help Feed a Hungry World

FAO Hunger Map 2015

Percentage of the population suffering from undernourishment, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) report. Climate change will likely exacerbate food insecurity in already-struggling areas. Source: FAO Hunger Map 2015.

Today with over 7 billion people on Earth, nearly 800 million people struggle with debilitating hunger and malnutrition in every corner of the globe. That’s one in every nine people, with the majority being women and children. Experts tell us we currently produce enough food to feed everyone, so why do so many people go to bed hungry every day? We believe that by making agriculture and nutrition data available, accessible, and usable for unrestricted use worldwide, we will enable the creation of innovative solutions to eliminate hunger.

Poor connections between production and distribution, limited knowledge sharing about what crops grow best where, and incomplete access to information about agricultural markets all contribute to global food insecurity. Agriculture and nutrition data can help. Read more »

Meet Connecticut Earth Team Volunteer: Misha Rosado

NRCS Earth Team Volunteer Misha Rosado

Misha Rosado’s superior skills in math, knowledge of surveying with the use of a transit and laser level, and her preference for working with adults has made her the quintessential engineering assistant.

At 5’1”, Misha Rosado is a tiny, 16-year-old powerhouse whose least favorite thing is to sit around with nothing to do. So, in addition to school and a part-time job, she donates 60-80 hours each year as an Earth Team Volunteer for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

You may wonder how this bright and very funny teen—whose interests include gymnastics and playing the flute—got involved in the agency. To her, the NRCS staff in Connecticut are like family. They practically are, seeing as how her dad has worked there for 32 years. Read more »

Unauthorized Drones Near a Wildfire can Cost and Kill

If You Fly, We Can't infographic

If You Fly, We Can't infographic. Design credit: Mary Horning, US Forest Service (Click to view a larger version)

Recreational drones or Unmanned Aircraft Systems sometimes called UAS have become increasingly popular in the past few years. While this is an interesting hobby and can allow you to get beautiful aerial photography, some activities pose a significant hazard.

The use of these drones to capture video footage of wildfires is one of those hazardous activities. Read more »