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Strength in Our Numbers—Even Small Ones Thanking Farmers, Ranchers, and Veterans

Barn side flag in rural america.

Barn side flag in rural america.

 There’s always something to give thanks for at harvest time, but our gratitude shouldn’t be limited to this page of the calendar. Farmers, ranchers, and veterans come to mind as leaves become memories and daylight diminishes. This small portion of our population ensures that what we sometimes take for granted as plans for the holiday season unfold, is also available for all year round. 

     When you think about it, each time we lift a fork from our table, a farmer or rancher makes possible almost every morsel of food on the plate.  At night as we enjoy resting peacefully in the comfort of our homes, a member of our military is somewhere in harm’s way providing a blanket of security for our uninterrupted sleep. The men and women responsible for these gifts display the best of rural America’s cultural landscape. Read more »

Tribal partnerships fuel sustainable aviation

Residual forest materials are collected from tribal forestland for use in aviation biofuel production.  (Image courtesy of NARA)

Residual forest materials are collected from tribal forestland for use in aviation biofuel production. (Image courtesy of NARA)

USDA celebrates National Native American Heritage Month in November with a blog series focused on USDA’s support of Tribal Nations and highlighting a number of our efforts throughout Indian Country and Alaska. Follow along on the USDA blog.

Alaska Airlines will conduct a demonstration flight in 2016 using 1,000 gallons of jet fuel made from forest scraps. 

The aviation biofuel was derived from twigs and small branches that would otherwise have been burned in slash piles after timber harvest. These forest residuals were provided by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe via the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance Tribal Partnership Program (NARA TPP).  TPP and other NARA partnerships are made possible by a $39.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).   Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Jennie London

Jennie London at Sostenga Farm, which she managed in Española, New Mexico for two years.

Jennie London at Sostenga Farm, which she managed in Española, New Mexico for two years.

As we look towards the Holiday season, here at USDA, we would like to give thanks to all of our farmers and ranchers, men and women alike, who provide us with a safe and affordable food supply. Every month, USDA shares the story of a woman in agriculture who is leading our industry and helping other women succeed along the way. Last month, a man by the name of D.H. Strongheart commented on the USDA blog asking if he could share his wife’s story. Below you will find Jennie’s story, as written by her husband, on how her passion for food and agriculture has evolved and why she is inspiring other women in agriculture to pursue their dreams.

Jennie’s farming career has been an inspiring example of how agriculture can be combined with education, career development training, equity and empowerment. She has worked at a diversity of farms from New York, Vermont, New Mexico and Oregon, usually in a small to mid-scale setting (3-30 acres) and has become a leader of her generation, a generation in which smaller scale organic agriculture has become a dignified and ever-more popular career choice. Anyone who has ever worked with her knows that she is a real embodiment of leadership, hard work and inclusiveness.  Read more »

Taking the Mystery Out of USDA Tools for Organic Agriculture

NRCS Resource Conservationist Joe Heller in residue-covered vegetable field in New York. Leaving the plant residue in place reduces soil erosion, increases soil organic matter and overall soil health.

NRCS Resource Conservationist Joe Heller in residue-covered vegetable field in New York. Leaving the plant residue in place reduces soil erosion, increases soil organic matter and overall soil health.

Getting people together to talk can result in great ideas. 

In June, USDA hosted 100 farmers, ranchers, retailers and producers in Chester, New York, in the Hudson Valley, to discuss opportunities and challenges in organic production, and to share information on USDA programs and services available to organic producers and processors.  

Wholesalers and retailers at the meeting all had a common challenge – keeping up with increasing market demands for organic food. Organic retail sales continue to grow at double-digit rates each year. In 2014, the market reached $39 billion in U.S. sales alone. That level of demand means a lot of opportunities for organic producers, as well as those in the process of transitioning to organic production. Read more »

Natural Supplements for Healthier Turkeys

Large White turkey female. USDA-ARS photo by Scott Bauer.

Large White turkey female. USDA-ARS photo by Scott Bauer.

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.  

Let’s talk turkey. You’re going to hear a lot about food safety as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, but what you often don’t hear about is how U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are working to make turkey, chicken and other poultry products safer to eat long before they reach your table. 

USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are developing alternatives to antibiotics that can help prevent turkey diseases and reduce bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter—two of the main pathogens in poultry that cause foodborne illness in people. Read more »

Our Unwavering Efforts in Facilitating Bilateral Trade

USDA Undersecretary Edward Avalos visits an inspection site at the Chilean airport where commodities are evaluated before shipment to overseas markets.  Here, he inspects fruit bound for U.S. market to ensure they are free from damaging pests.

USDA Undersecretary Edward Avalos visits an inspection site at the Chilean airport where commodities are evaluated before shipment to overseas markets. Here, he inspects fruit bound for U.S. market to ensure they are free from damaging pests.

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting with US Department of Agriculture counterparts in both Chile and Peru. My travel to South America was an opportunity to discuss our most recent trade successes and how we can further build on this great relationship and momentum. 

In Chile, I met with the Chilean Minister of Agriculture, Carlos Furche and Chilean Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG) officials to discuss bilateral animal and plant health trade issues. US Ambassador to Chile, Michael Hammer, was also in attendance. To better understand their domestic processes and procedures for imports, I participated in a tour of a grocery store selling U.S. products including U.S. beef and visited a feedlot and a dairy farm as well as other agricultural sites near Santiago. This year Chile granted market access to U.S. live cattle and renewed domestic access to U.S. bovine embryos, more easily allowing Chile’s farmers to improve the national beef and dairy herds with genetics supplied from the U.S. The last time I visited Chile was five years ago, so it was great to refresh the cooperative and collaborative working relationship between USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and SAG. Read more »