USDA is taking a multi-faceted approach to supporting the American sheep and lamb industry, working with researchers and market analysts to identify strategies and goals.
The U.S. sheep and lamb industry has been shrinking for decades as the numbers of sheep and producers have declined since World War II. Consolidation of the sheep packing industry, higher feed and energy costs, continuous loses to predation, and lower consumption, coupled with competition from imports of lamb cuts, have taken their toll on U.S. producers. In response to industry needs, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has been working with the American Lamb Board (ALB) and the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) on initiatives aimed at ensuring the long-term viability of the industry. Read more »
Feral swine are not native to the United States. They are a cross between feral domestic swine introduced by Spanish explorers in the 1500s and the Eurasian boar. (Dana Johnson, USDA-APHIS)
Feral swine have been called the “rototillers” of nature. Their longs snouts and tusks allow them to rip and root their way across America in search of food. Unfortunately, the path they leave behind impacts ranchers, farmers, land managers, conservationists, and suburbanites alike. April, Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month, is a great time to learn about this serious threat to both plant and animal health. Read more »
High School welding students gained hands-on fabrication experience while contributing to the collaborative state-wide effort to manage an invasive species.
USDA Wildlife Services (WS) employees in New Mexico have been fabricating the traps and tools for their jobs for many years. As feral swine management work began in the state, naturally we began to build our own traps and gates to contain this invasive and damaging mammal. Read more »
“Clear, direct and easy to understand” may not be the first words most Americans associate with government publications and documents, but that is changing. Thanks to the Plain Writing Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2010, all federal agencies must now put their readers first when writing new documents or revising old ones. That means before putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, we must first think hard about how our language connects with customers and helps them get the most from USDA’s services and programs.
Secretary Vilsack has asked us at USDA to improve our writing to better serve the public. He believes we cannot carry out our mission effectively if we cannot communicate clearly with those whom we serve. He has made plain writing a cornerstone of his efforts to transform USDA’s culture. Now all of us—even our lawyers—are making our writing easier for the public to read and understand.
This is good news for the American people whose lives are affected every day by USDA’s leadership on issues from agriculture, to nutrition, trade, and energy. The public uses the information in our documents to build strong rural communities, to protect the environment, and to produce our safe and abundant food supply. Read more »
Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History Research Scientist and Manger in the Feather Identification Lab Dr. Carla Dove, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Wildlife Biologists Keel Price and George Graves look over a sample of the birds in the Smithsonian collection on Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2013. USDA photo by Anson Eaglin.
In March, I enjoyed welcoming home two USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service employees from 18-week tours of duty in Afghanistan. There they devoted long days using their wildlife expertise to reduce aircraft hazards to American and coalition aircraft at Bagram Airbase and Kandahar Airfield. It was my honor to help recognize them for their service from November 2012 to March 2013. Read more »
Asian longhorned beetle and "egg site." Credit: R. Anson Eaglin, USDA-APHIS
This past March, almost 11 years after being found in New Jersey, federal and state agriculture officials are finally able to say that the state’s long-running battle against the non-native Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) is over.
New Jersey is the second state to declare itself free from the invasive tree-killing insect. The beetle was successfully eradicated from Illinois in 2008, and the ALB-regulated area of Islip, New York, also achieved eradication in 2011. So, getting rid of this “hungry pest” is possible. That’s good news, because, depending on where you live, 70 percent of your community’s tree canopy could be lost to ALB. Read more »