This week, USDA released preliminary data from the 2012 Census of Agriculture that provides a snapshot of a rural America that remains stable in the face of difficult economic times. While the data do not paint a perfect picture, they do tell a story of the unlimited potential and growing opportunity in modern rural America.
Census data indicate that the loss of farmland has slowed significantly since 2007, which means that while a total of 72 million acres of farmland have been lost since the 1982 census, we have begun to stem the tide. New tools in the 2014 Farm Bill should help to further slow and perhaps even reverse this trend in some areas of the country.
The results reinforce what we have known for many years: the farm population is aging. While that is a concern, the data also show that the number of young farmers increased slightly and the number of minority farm and ranch principal operators increased dramatically, reflecting the changing face of America as a whole. We are hopeful that USDA policies that attract and retain the next generation of talent into rural America will help to continue this trend. Read more »
USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum: The Changing Face of Agriculture logo
Here’s what the Economic Research Service (ERS) has in store for the Agricultural Outlook Forum. We have arranged two afternoon sessions on Thursday, February 20. One will discuss farm income and the other the outlook for food prices.
The food price session, moderated by Michael McConnell of Informa Economics, will provide a perspective on food price inflation, the main factors that contribute to food price movements, and the implications for consumers in the United States and abroad. ERS economist Richard Volpe will present the latest outlook for retail food prices, recent trends in food expenditure patterns, and general-economy considerations. Another ERS economist, Ron Trostle, will discuss the volatility in commodity prices in recent years, and the impacts on food prices. And Keith Wiebe, Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), will address the implications of food prices for global food security. Read more »
AMS ensures that seed shipped in interstate commerce are labeled and advertised truthfully. This allows seed buyers to make informed choices and promotes fair competition within the industry.
Believe it or not, food doesn’t come from the refrigerator or even the kitchen. It doesn’t even come from the grocery store or the farmer. All food—whether meat, grain, vegetable or fruit—owes its existence to seeds. Seeds are the backbone of human existence, providing us with the fundamental necessities needed for life: food, clothing, medicine, and shelter.
To protect the quality of these important, yet often forgotten, natural resources and to promote a robust U.S. seed market (current value of over $7.3 billion), Congress enacted a program over a century ago that would later evolve into what is now known as the Federal Seed Act. The act, administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) in Gastonia, NC, is a law that protects American businesses, farmers, and the general public from misrepresentation when buying seed. Read more »
The 2014 Farm Bill, passed by Congress and signed last week by President Obama, strengthens the farm safety net and ensures vital nutrition assistance for hardworking children and families during tough times. It closes loopholes and achieves much-needed reform, saving billions of taxpayer dollars.
Those accomplishments are significant and should be commended, particularly at a time when bipartisan victories in Washington are so rare.
We have already started work on a plan to implement the new Farm Bill. However, many of its provisions are new and complex. As we have done every step of the way in helping to craft this legislation, we will work to keep Congress and our stakeholders informed as we identify and prioritize everything—new regulations, guidance and other activities—that will be required so that we can implement the legislation in an efficient, timely and responsible manner. Read more »
Broken kernels are indicated above.
With a little help from USDA, consumer-grade photo scanners could revolutionize rice grading.
Consumers much prefer whole kernels of milled rice over broken pieces. Whole kernels offer more consistent cooking qualities and are in many cases considered more visually appealing. As a result, the price paid to a rice producer for a load of rough rice can be impacted by the percentage of broken kernels within a sample of rice after it has been milled.
USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration is developing software for use with consumer-grade photo scanners to measure the percent of broken kernels in milled rice quickly and accurately. When rough rice is graded in accordance with USDA’s Rice Grading Standards, the percentage of broken kernels within a sample is determined by a trained grader’s visual inspection. Read more »
MyPlate Tips for Valentine’s Day!
This Valentine’s Day, give something for the heart. Sharing a heart healthy gift is a great way to let the people in your life know you care. Instead of offering an over-sized piece of cake or a box of sweets, give something that takes care of the heart.
For Your Spouse or Partner: Make a healthy meal together. Cooking a meal can help you to control portion sizes and the ingredients in your food. Find a healthy recipe to make at home or attend a cooking class at your local mall or community college. For healthy recipe ideas, visit the FNCS Recipe Box. Read more »