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USDA Northeast Climate Hub Integrates Farmer Panel into Operational Discussions

Drew (left) and Joan Norman (center), One Straw Farm and, Catherine Webb (right) of Springfield Farm

Drew (left) and Joan Norman (center), One Straw Farm and, Catherine Webb (right) of Springfield Farm shared stories and insights about their operations after a farm to table lunch at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office on October 27th, 2015.

As the autumn leaves in the Northeast were just beginning to blanket the ground in late October, the USDA Northeast Climate Hub held its first annual –university network hosted– Partner Operational Discussions. The group convened in Annapolis, Maryland where working meetings were held at both the Chesapeake Bay Program and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office on October 26th and 27th, 2015. On the second day, after much conversation, assorted presentations and a locally sourced farm-to-table lunch from A Cook’s Cafe, the group took a step back to listen to those whose daily work has dictated the very mission of the USDA Climate Hubs: farmers. Maryland-rooted farm operators, Drew and Joan Norman of One Straw Farm and Catherine Webb of Springfield Farm, formed a panel with moderators Joana Chan and Allison Chatrchyan of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change & Agriculture. Together they chatted about their operations, experiences with extreme weather events, practices and information needs. Read more »

Rangeland Restoration Benefits Cattle and Prairie Chicken

Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative: Conservation across the Range cover

Learn more about prairie chicken conservation efforts by downloading this new report, Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative: Conservation across the Range. Click to download the report.

Cattle and lesser prairie-chickens both need healthy rangeland to thrive. Through voluntary conservation efforts, farmers and ranchers in the southern Great Plains can restore habitat for this iconic bird while strengthening working lands.

The Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative (LPCI), a partnership led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), works to enhance lesser prairie-chicken habitat one ranch at a time. A number of the initiative’s successes are highlighted in a new report called the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative: Conservation across the Range. Read more »

China’s Impacts of Slowing Growth on Trade and Agriculture in the U.S.

People's Republic of China General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) officials taking samples of U.S. soybeans at the Port of Dalian

People's Republic of China General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) officials take samples of U.S. soybeans at the Port of Dalian as part of a joint study comparing U.S. and Chinese inspection practices. Photo taken by USDA/FAS employee Mark Rasmussen.

International trade is a major factor in the American agricultural economy.  A key player is China.  In fact China’s impact on slowing growth on trade and agriculture is a session topic during the 2016 United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Outlook Forum.

Over the last two decades, China’s economic prosperity and increased consumer demand for food has significantly contributed to the record growth in United States agricultural exports.  From fiscal year (FY) 2000 to FY 2015, the value of U.S. agricultural and related exports to China rose from $1.7 to $25.9 billion dollars.  Currently, nearly 17 percent of all U.S. agricultural exports are destined for the Chinese market.  These export figures highlight the critical importance of the U.S.-China trade relationship for U.S. agriculture and underscores the United States interest in China’s ability to maintain a strong and stable economy. Read more »

High Five Series: Rural America is Home for the Holidays

One of the fifty families in New Hampshire

One of the fifty families in New Hampshire whose affordable rental home was preserved for 30 more Holiday seasons to come.

Oh, there’s nooooo place like hooooome for the holidays… Every time I hear that song I get an extra spring in my step knowing that I work for an organization that helped more than 160,000 families afford to buy, rent, or repair their homes this year. That’s 160,000 families in rural America that are home for the Holidays.

This year, 50 New Hampshire families living in one of our rental housing facilities were on the verge of losing their homes, but because of local community action groups, and my amazing team of affordable rural housing professionals, USDA Rural Development is able to continue to provide rental assistance to 50 Granite State families for the next 30 years.  Last month, we were able to close a deal that will keep these 50 families, and an additional 50 elderly and disabled tenants in a neighboring affordable housing community in their homes affordably for the next 30 years. Read more »

Five Invasive Pests: You Can Help Stop Their Spread

Asian Longhorned Beetle

The Asian Longhorned Beetle has killed more than 100,000 trees since it was accidentally introduced to this country about 20 years ago.

USDA APHIS is deeply involved with mitigating invasive pest issues, along with State and local governments. Invasive pests cost the U.S. an estimated $120 billion each year in damages to our environment, agriculture, and native species. The five invasive species described here are a few of the damaging invasive pests of concern to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.  You can help detect these pests and take actions to reduce their spread. Read more »

Five Years of Working Toward a Healthy, Hunger-Free Generation

Schoolchildren with lunch

Today over 97 percent of schools report they are meeting the updated meal standards.

This time of year, it often feels like time is flying by. As we take time to step back and reflect on the past, we often think, “My, my, where did the time go?” or “It feels like just yesterday…” or “How could it be almost 2016 already?”  Many of us at USDA are feeling a bit nostalgic too, wondering: “Could it really be half a decade since the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) passed!?”

But as we commemorate the anniversary of the passage of HHFKA, we realize how far our country has come over the last five years toward achieving the goal of ensuring every American child has access to the nutrition they need to grow into healthy adults.  HHFKA’s historic investment in the health of our nation’s children has enabled USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to expand and improve a number of our programs and services to better help those in need. Read more »