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Category: Science

Rural America’s Pace of Recovery

In the aftermath of the 2007-09 recession, the economic picture in rural areas has been mixed, according to a recent Economic Research Service report.

In the aftermath of the 2007-09 recession, the economic picture in rural areas has been mixed, according to a recent Economic Research Service report.

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.

In the recession of 2007-09 and its aftermath, some areas of the United States fared better than others. In rural America as a whole, the pace of economic recovery has been slow, with attendant impacts on rural residents. Each year, USDA’s Economic Research Service provides a snapshot of the rural economy in a brief report, Rural America at a Glance.

The 2014 report shows that in several major respects, recent trends in rural America parallel those in the Nation generally. Read more »

Directions to a Prosperous Rural America

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.

If you’re like me, the holidays are a time to pack our bags and set off to visit family members and loved ones.  When my family goes on a road trip — with what seems like half the country doing the same thing — the driver is always asked helpful questions like, “Do you know where you’re going?” or “Are we there yet?” At USDA, we’re often revisiting the same questions and potential solutions as we develop plans to strengthen the rural economy.

Tackling the problems rural America faces is not unlike a family road trip.  Directions are needed to help steer USDA programs supporting rural America toward our goals:  “Do you know where you’re going?”  As it turns out, the answer to this question is an enthusiastic, “Yes!” Read more »

Exploration and Agriculture: Connecting the Next Generation with Science to Grow the Future

Deputy Secretary Harden and 4-H'ers observe plant growing experiments at the NASA Space Life Science Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Deputy Secretary Harden and 4-H'ers observe plant growing experiments at the NASA Space Life Science Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Last week, we entered a bold new era of exploration and discovery as NASA launched the Orion spacecraft, a major step testing the possibility of going to Mars.

As NASA contemplates sending human missions to Mars, one question we must answer is: what will the astronauts eat and what foods will assist future missions? NASA and USDA are working together to develop plants that can grow, thrive, and produce in new environments – signaling opportunities for fresh, nutrition-rich food for astronauts on long duration space flights. Read more »

The Grass is Cleaner on the Other Side

Research suggests that sorghum can be beneficial as both a fuel source and as a sinkhole for greenhouse gas. (iStock image)

Research suggests that sorghum can be beneficial as both a fuel source and as a sinkhole for greenhouse gas. (iStock image)

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.

Liquid fuel, charcoal, and electric power are all possible byproducts of biomass feedstocks. But what if there was a feedstock that not only produced bioenergy, but acted as a greenhouse gas “sink” as well? According to Texas A&M’s AgriLife Research, there is: bioenergy sorghum.

Each region contains locally generated biomass feedstocks, ranging from grains to animal byproducts. Sorghum is a group of grasses with about 30 species, which can be used in a variety of bioenergy production processes, like starch-to-ethanol, sugar-to-ethanol, and plants-to-bioenergy. Read more »

Surveys Help with Land Rental Negotiation

Shiela Corley is a statistician now, but her farming roots are deep. Corley's family has been farming for generations now and even today, her parents run a farm in her native Kentucky. Photo Credit: Shiela Corley

Shiela Corley is a statistician now, but her farming roots are deep. Corley's family has been farming for generations now and even today, her parents run a farm in her native Kentucky. Photo Credit: Shiela Corley

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.

Farmland is one of the biggest assets in U.S. agriculture.  According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, American farmers own more than half of all U.S. farmland—however, more than 350 million acres are rented or leased.  This means that hundreds of thousands of farmers are affected by rising farmland values and have to negotiate their land rental agreements regularly.

That’s where data comes in. Every year, we reach out to thousands of farmers across the nation to determine accurate estimates for farmland values. After all, to negotiate a fair deal, it helps to know the actual value of the land you already rent or hope to rent in the future. That’s also how we at USDA and other key policymakers know that U.S. farmland values have been increasing pretty steadily over the past decade. Read more »

REE Shows Children in Rural America How Ag Science Rocks

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.

You may be surprised by the answers you get when you ask a group of middle schoolers, “What do you like about science?”

Recently, 30 twelve and thirteen year-olds from the Coleman and TL Weston Middle schools in Greenville, Mississippi summed up their answers up with one brief sentence: “I like learning new things about the world around me.” Read more »