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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 »

First-ever Regional Farm to School Institute Underway in the Northeast

90 school administrators, teachers, food service professionals, and community members gather at the Northeast Farm to School Institute kick-off, held in June on Shelburne Farms’ 1,400-acre campus in northern Vermont.

90 school administrators, teachers, food service professionals, and community members gather at the Northeast Farm to School Institute kick-off, held in June on Shelburne Farms’ 1,400-acre campus in northern Vermont.

This account was written by VT FEED Project Director, Betsy Rosenbluth and Shelburne Farms Public Relations and Marketing Director, Vera Chang.  

As principal of Sharon Elementary School in Sharon, Vt., Barrett Williams helps his teachers integrate farm to school pedagogy into curricula by making sure they have planning time during the school day and a stipend to compensate their efforts. Time and resources are limited for teachers who are under rigorous demands to meet school standards. So Williams must be creative to ensure food, farming, nutrition, and place-based learning are part of students’ education. We’re listening to Williams and his peers talk at a round-table workshop that is part of the pioneering, year-long Northeast Farm to School Institute. Williams is one of 90 school administrators, teachers, food service professionals, and community members at the Institute’s kick-off, held on Shelburne Farms’ 1,400-acre campus in northern Vermont. Read more »

Baby, it’s cold outside. Time to stock up on firewood.

Sections of a tree that’s been cut down showing a lot of damage from ALB, such as tunneling at the ends, exit holes and egg sites.

Sections of a tree that’s been cut down showing a lot of damage from ALB, such as tunneling at the ends, exit holes and egg sites.

 It’s fall in North America.  It’s the time of year that marks the transition from summer into winter.  It’s when the night time comes earlier and the weather cools considerably.  It’s also the time of year when most of us start to turn on our heat or start to acquire firewood. 

There are a lot of us that use firewood as a heat source.  According to U.S. Census data 2.4 million homes across the country are heated by wood.  This number does not include homes that use firewood as secondary heating or those of us that use it when we’re camping or even just to sit around in the yard.  Whether or not you use wood to heat your home or build a campfire, firewood is used by millions of Americans.  Read more »

Putting Our Minds Together to Improve Education on the Warm Springs Reservation

 

Tribal and community leaders on the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation of Oregon to celebrate the completion of their new K-8 school.

Tribal and community leaders on the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation of Oregon to celebrate the completion of their new K-8 school.

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.

One year ago, I joined tribal and community leaders on the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation of Oregon to celebrate the completion of a new K-8 school. This state-of-the-art facility replaced a cramped school building constructed in the 1930s that could no longer meet the needs of educators, students or modern teaching techniques and tools. Today, young learners are benefiting from the modern science and computer labs, art and music rooms, a gymnasium, large cafeteria and gathering place, and many cultural features that celebrate the Tribal community’s heritage and traditions. By investing in the Warm Springs Academy the Tribe and community partners made a commitment to ensure the well-being, access to opportunities and success of children on the reservation for generations to come. Read more »