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Category: International

Improving Forest Practices One Beehive at a Time in Ghana

Two men talking near the Coastal Sustainable Landscapes Project Apiary sign

U.S. Forest Service assistance on beehive construction and honey production can conserve tree cover while providing alternative sources of income and food for local households. (Photo credit Mr. Richard Adupong)

All over the world, deforestation and forest degradation are under the microscope because together they comprise the second greatest driver of climate change. If you focus on the country of Ghana, you’ll find one of the highest deforestation rates in Africa.

In fact, the country has lost nearly 90 percent of its original forests. The losses are due to a variety of factors including wood extraction and agricultural expansion. The remaining forests are home to forest elephants, Diana monkeys and many types of rare, endemic amphibians—and many rural communities that often struggle to support their families. Read more »

Agricultural Production in Brazil: Adapting to a Resilient Climate

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Fruit and Vegetable Programs Market News Chief of the International Reports Section Dr. Luis Palmer (second from right with blue shirt) touring the market with MIOA members. Photo by Francisco Stuckert, CONAB

The Market Information for the Organization of the Americas (MIOA) members also toured the local wholesale market, Centrais de Abastecimento do Distrito Federal S.A (CEASA-DF) in Brasilia, Brazil. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Fruit and Vegetable Programs Market News Chief of the International Reports Section Dr. Luis Palmer (second from right with blue shirt) tours the market with MIOA members. Photo by Francisco Stuckert, CONAB

Over the last 25 years, the American farmer has become increasingly aware of the impact of South American agricultural output on the global supply of grains and oilseeds.  For example, in recent years Brazil has risen to the number one position as an exporter of soybeans.  Further, the combined output of Brazil and its neighbors, Argentina and Paraguay, is challenging the United States’ position as the world’s leading supplier of corn.

Brazil is unique in that it has a relatively stable agricultural output trend due to improving production techniques, and in most years, abundant rainfall for production of various crops.  The climate and cropping patterns are behind the increases in agricultural production, which were made possible by the shift of production into regions less prone to drought.  There is also the potential for expansion into untapped lands, although infrastructure and land ownership issues are a limiting factor.  Meantime, thanks to ample rainfall and land resources enjoyed by producers, Brazil has the potential to become an agricultural powerhouse for years to come. Read more »

Organic Sound and Sensible Resources: Understanding Rules, Certification, and Inspections

A tractor on a farm

Farmers and producers debunk common myths around organic certification in a new Sound & Sensible video resource.

Last month, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program (NOP) announced new resources resulting from our Sound and Sensible Initiative, which is making organic certification more accessible, affordable, and attainable. Today, we are introducing more guides, videos, and other tools – all produced by our partners in the organic community. These resources help farms and businesses understand the USDA organic standards, certification process, and inspections in more depth. Read more »

Introducing USDA Results, a Year-Long Storytelling Effort of the Obama Administration’s Work on Behalf of Those Living, Working and Raising Families in Rural America

Today, USDA is launching USDA Results, a progressive, year-long, multimedia storytelling effort showcasing the Administration’s work on behalf of those living, working and raising families in rural America. Each month, USDA will release a new chapter of the story at medium.com/usda-results. We encourage you to check out January’s chapter, Celebrating America’s Farmers and Ranchers: Supporting the Producers Who Ensure a Safe, Affordable, Nutritious American Food Supply, and follow along throughout 2016.

When I began my service as Secretary of Agriculture in 2009, I took the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nickname of the ‘People’s Department’—first coined by President Abraham Lincoln—to heart.

President Lincoln knew the importance of agriculture to national prosperity—particularly at a time when about half of all Americans lived on the farm. He understood the critical responsibility of USDA and government to serve and support American agriculture and the rural communities who have, since the founding of our country, helped to drive innovation and economic growth on a national scale.   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 »

Building the Bench for Agriculture in 2015 and Beyond

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden with The Women in Agriculture and Public Service delegates from sub-Saharan Africa after the round table discussion held at the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra, Ghana

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden with The Women in Agriculture and Public Service delegates from sub-Saharan Africa after the round table discussion held at the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra, Ghana, on Nov. 15, 2015. USDA photo.

No matter where you’re from, no matter what you look like, no matter your background, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is here for you. It has been an exciting year at USDA, filled with growth and opportunity.  This year, I have traveled the country and the world to meet with farmers, ranchers and agriculture leaders who love the land and want to help the next generation succeed.

As 2015 comes to a close, I would like to share the top five things USDA has done this year to build a more diverse future for agriculture: Read more »