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USDA Assists in Bringing Commercial Dehairing Operations Back to United States

 

Mark Schalk explains the process for sorting Alpaca hair that will be used to make blanket yarn. Schalk is the owner of Two Branch Ranch, an Alpaca farm in Saline, Mich. He brought the fiber to Springfield, Ky., for sorting and cleaning.

Mark Schalk explains the process for sorting Alpaca hair that will be used to make blanket yarn. Schalk is the owner of Two Branch Ranch, an Alpaca farm in Saline, Mich. He brought the fiber to Springfield, Ky., for sorting and cleaning.

 

October is National Cooperative Month, and we’re happy to spotlight several projects throughout the month that have been supported through USDA Rural Development’s Cooperative Services.

It took nearly two years to travel from Italy to America via transportation across water, through the air, and along roadways and railways – and now a large, brightly colored piece of equipment is making history in the tiny rural community of Springfield, Ky. Read more »

Closing the Gap on Food Safety

USDA Under Secretary Ed Avalos led the panel discussion that talked about the success of the GroupGAP Pilot Program and looked ahead to the full program’s official launch later this spring.

USDA Under Secretary Ed Avalos led the panel discussion that talked about the success of the GroupGAP Pilot Program and looked ahead to the full program’s official launch later this spring.

From small, family farms to large food production companies, food safety is a top priority for the folks who feed our nation and put food on tables around the globe. Participating in programs like USDA’s Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), is one way that farmers and producers of all sizes can demonstrate to buyers that they are adhering to industry food safety standards.  By making this program more accessible to businesses of all sizes, USDA is creating opportunities for our nation’s small and mid-sized farmers

Last week I traveled to Atlanta, Ga., for the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Summit to discuss the expansion of our GroupGAP Program this coming spring. The program is an expansion of our Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Audit Program, which provides third-party certification services to verify that operations are following industry-recognized food safety practices as well as recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).The pilot was supported by funding and technical expertise from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and the Wallace Center at Winrock International. Read more »

Guide Enhances Understanding of Farm Bill Conservation Programs

 

Jim Stone, Montana Rancher, and Bridget Collins, former Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Agriculture Policy Coordinator, discuss conservation programs near Jones Lake on the Rolling Stone Ranch. Photo by Dave Smith.

Jim Stone, Montana Rancher, and Bridget Collins, former Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Agriculture Policy Coordinator, discuss conservation programs near Jones Lake on the Rolling Stone Ranch. Photo by Dave Smith.

The following guest blog by Hannah Ryan of Intermountain West Joint Venture and Matt Cimitile of Appalachian Mountain Joint Venture highlights key partnerships that work with farmers and ranchers to conserve habitat for the benefit of birds, other wildlife and people. 

The 2014 Farm Bill Field Guide to Fish and Wildlife Conservation is a collaborative effort by conservation partners that provides a new tool for those who work with private landowners and agricultural producers in adopting conservation practices included in the 2014 Farm Bill. It provides biologists, range conservationists, foresters, and others with a road map to help navigate Farm Bill programs and encourages landowners to engage in habitat conservation. Read more »

Heroes of the Harvest: Massachusetts Apple Farm Creates Productive Harvests

Al Rose discusses his fourth-generation Red Apple “green” Farm with NRCS’ Soil Conservationist Dave Bacon.

Al Rose discusses his fourth-generation Red Apple “green” Farm with NRCS’ Soil Conservationist Dave Bacon.

NOTE: This week on the USDA Blog, we’ll feature the stories of America’s Harvest Heroes who, like farmers across the nation, are working this harvest season to secure the bounty of healthy food American agriculture is renowned for. From laying the foundation for the next generation of farmers putting down roots in rural America, supporting the fruit and vegetable growers who are helping to build healthier communities, bolstering new markets for the products of agricultural innovation, to harvesting renewable energy that is made in Rural America, with USDA’s support our farmers are yielding strong results for every American. For these reasons and more, America’s Harvest Heroes deserve our thanks.

A towering, craggy McIntosh apple tree in the center of the orchard at Red Apple Farm in Phillipston, Massachusetts, has weathered 113 winters, borne many tons of crisp, tart apples and fed generations of customers. Planted in 1912, it’s the oldest commercially planted McIntosh tree in New England and possibly the country. Thanks to care by generations of the Rose family, that ancient apple tree still produces fruit today. Read more »

Heroes of the Harvest: Breeding program brings better, safer corn to South

Dr. Seth Murray, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research corn breeder from College Station, talks about his work during a field day. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Li Zhang)

Dr. Seth Murray, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research corn breeder from College Station, talks about his work during a field day. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Li Zhang)

NOTE: This week on the USDA Blog, we’ll feature the stories of America’s Harvest Heroes who, like farmers across the nation, are working this harvest season to secure the bounty of healthy food American agriculture is renowned for. From laying the foundation for the next generation of farmers putting down roots in rural America, supporting the fruit and vegetable growers who are helping to build healthier communities, bolstering new markets for the products of agricultural innovation, to harvesting renewable energy that is made in Rural America, with USDA’s support our farmers are yielding strong results for every American Today, we look at a Hero of a different type.  Dr. Murray is not necessarily on a tractor, but his import research is helping Southern corn growers realize higher yields when they bring in their harvest.

Dr. Seth Murray grew up in suburban Michigan and, after spending time on his grandfather’s farm, knew from a young age he wanted to work with plants. Today, he conducts corn breeding research at Texas A&M University and recently published findings that could mean big things for the corn producers of Texas and the American Southwest region – a greater harvest of disease-free corn and more food on the tables of consumers. Read more »

Nationwide Census on Farm to School Activities Shows Increased Use of Local Foods in Schools

 

School districts have until Friday, November 20, to update or submit new Farm to School Census data!

School districts have until Friday, November 20, to update or submit new Farm to School Census data!

What can $598 million buy you these days? A lot of local food!  

 This week, USDA announced early results from USDA’s second Farm to School Census indicating that school districts across the country invested more than half a billion dollars in local foods in the 2013-2014 school year. That represents an increase of $212 million (or 55 percent) over final results from the last census, conducted two years ago. Read more »