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US Ag Exports Create Big Opportunity Around the World

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS) Alexis Taylor discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) implementation and export opportunities with Japanese Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Hiroshi Moriyama in Tokyo, Japan on Nov. 20, 2015

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS) Alexis Taylor discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) implementation and export opportunities with Japanese Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Hiroshi Moriyama in Tokyo, Japan on Nov. 20, 2015

When I reflect on USDA’s international work over the past seven years, I don’t just see a great record of accomplishments, I see the building of a strong foundation that positions rural Americans to compete, grow and thrive in the years ahead.

Today, we’re launching the sixth chapter of USDA Results, which tells the story of our efforts, and our impact, alongside our partners over the last seven years to open new export markets, improve trade and capacity building, and empower future trading partners striving to build their own economies. Read more »

Strawberries, Blueberries, Corncobs, Oh My! – Bringing the Farm to Summer

A person picking out produce

Incorporating local produce into summer meals programs benefits the entire community.

Fields of asparagus and peas are in full bounty, soon to make way for sweet, juicy strawberries; towering stalks of corn; and more tomatoes than you’d ever know what to do with!  In many parts of the country, as we approach summer, the warm weather means that local harvests are at their peak, and fresh fruits and vegetables abound.  That’s what makes summer the perfect time of year for incorporating local foods into your meals.  And according to the most recently released data from the Farm to School Census 2015, more than 1,000 school districts nationwide are doing just that:  They’re bringing the farm to summer!

When school lets out for summer, there’s still a need to ensure the millions of children who receive free and reduced-price school meals during the school year have consistent access to healthy meals.  USDA’s summer meals programs help fill that gap, serving over 191 million meals to children last summer alone!  Community centers, libraries, day camps, churches, and more can all sign up to host a summer meals site through the summer meals programs, but schools make for a particularly good site since they already have food production facilities in place for serving meals throughout the school year.  The Farm to School Census 2015 found that more than one in five school districts that participate in farm to school programs report including local foods in meals served through their summer meals programs. Read more »

USDA Farmers Market at Night is Back – Every Friday, June to September, 4-7 P.M.

People at the market's community table

Folks grab a seat at the market’s community table. The Farmers Market at Night is a great place to try new foods and enjoy the sights and sounds of the National Mall. USDA Photo by Richard Tyner.

We can’t think of a better way to spend time after a long day of work then by relaxing on the National Mall with good food, good company and good music. That’s why after piloting the first ever USDA Farmers Market at Night last year, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has decided to bring back the USDA Farmers Market at Night! It’s an opportunity for people all ages to connect with food and agriculture in a very unique setting.

Visitors can purchase food and enjoy a picnic right next to the market in the Headquarters People’s Garden. The garden is tended to by USDA employee volunteers and produces vegetables and fruits for donation to a local community kitchen. Visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic blanket but don’t worry if you forget – seating as well as picnic blankets are available in the garden. Read more »

Climate Hubs Help APHIS Adapt to Climate Change

Climate Change Adaptation Workshop participants

Participants in the climate change adaptation workshop. Photo credit: Joseph Vorgetts

All this month we will be taking a look at what a changing climate means to Agriculture. The ten regional USDA Climate Hubs were established to synthesize and translate climate science and research into easily understood products and tools that land managers can use to make climate-informed decisions. The Hubs work at the regional level with an extensive network of trusted USDA agency partners, technical service providers, University collaborators, and private sector advisers to ensure they have the information they need to respond to producers that are dealing with the effects of a variable climate. USDA’s Climate Hubs are part of our broad commitment to developing the next generation of climate solutions, so that our agricultural leaders have the modern technologies and tools they need to adapt and succeed in the face of a changing climate.

How important will climate change considerations be in your work in the next 3-5 years?  That was one of the questions USDA employees were asked in mid-April at the start of a two-day workshop at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in Riverdale, Maryland.  The hands-on training session, facilitated by APHIS’ Climate Change Working Group, the Forest Service, Northern Forests Climate Hub and the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, was designed to help APHIS employees from various program and support units incorporate climate change considerations into their actual projects. Read more »

Climate Data Tools for Informed Decisions

Aerial view of GRACEnet test plots

Aerial view of GRACEnet test plots at the Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center in Pendleton, Oregon. Photo by Oregon State University.

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 portfolio.

Responding to Climate Variability is one of the goal areas of the REE Action Plan.  The objective is to develop science-based knowledge to address climate variability, position agricultural communities to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, and enhance carbon sequestration.

Many valuable USDA accomplishments for the year 2015 were the result of cross-divisional teams that developed useful tools to support decision-makers with research-based data.  Knowing weather and climate patterns–driving forces behind the success or failure of cropping systems–is vital information to land managers.  One such tool, AgroClimate, supported by REE and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), helps users manage climate risk with tools that provide information on crops best suited to grow in their region, based on water availability and the amount of water a crop will use. Read more »

‘Soil and Air’ – Where Crops Meet the Environment

A person holding soil in hands

Healthy soil. USDA-ARS photo by Peggy Greb

You probably know that climate change affects how we grow food, but you might not know that how food is grown also affects our climate. This interplay is at the heart of an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) project called “Soil and Air,” a concerted effort to feed the Earth’s 7.5 billion people while protecting the planet.

Farmers and ranchers produce food at the intersection of soil and air, which in turn impacts soil and air quality. For instance, warmer air creates warmer soil, leading to different compositions of bacteria and other microbes in the ecosystem and to increased moisture loss through evaporation. Read more »