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Category: Science

China Emerging as a Key Market for Agricultural Products

China’s imports of agricultural products have surged in recent years, with the United States a key supplier. A recent ERS report examines China’s emergence as a major agricultural importer.

China’s imports of agricultural products have surged in recent years, with the United States a key supplier. A recent ERS report examines China’s emergence as a major agricultural importer.

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.

China is often noted for its dominant export presence in the world market. The ubiquitous “Made in China” label, found on everything from pens to smart phones has made China’s export prowess acutely visible and at times overshadowed the other side of the country’s trade relationship with the world. But in recent years, China’s potential as a significant market has drawn increasing attention.

A new Economic Research Service (ERS) report examines China’s emergence as a major importer of agricultural products over the past decade. Between 2000 and 2013, China’s agricultural imports grew from US$ 10 billion to about US$ 123 billion. The surge in imports has been driven by rising incomes and changing consumer preferences as well as growing demand for industrial raw materials. While bulk commodities such as soybeans and cotton remain predominant in China’s agricultural imports, consumer preferences and increased purchasing power have broadened the scope of these imports. As a result, imports of processed and consumer-oriented products like meats, dairy, wine, and nuts are increasingly showing up in Chinese markets. Read more »

1890′s Land-Grant Universities: Providing Access and Enhancing Opportunities

Professor Edward Jones discusses an alfalfa nutrition experiment with Delaware State University students (left to right) Tony Carney, Latisha Corey, and Karen Meyer. (USDA photo by Scott Bauer)

Professor Edward Jones discusses an alfalfa nutrition experiment with Delaware State University students (left to right) Tony Carney, Latisha Corey, and Karen Meyer. (USDA photo by Scott Bauer)

February is traditionally a month of celebration for our nation’s 1890 land-grant universities (LGUs) in commemoration of Black History Month. These institutions are historically-black universities that were established in 1890 under the Second Morrill Act.  Now, as the month draws to an end, the 1890 LGUs are setting their sights on August 30, which marks the 125th anniversary of the Congressional action that created a network of historically black colleges and universities dedicated to providing educational opportunity for all through innovative scientific research and community-minded Extension programs.

“One of the ways we can best honor black history is by providing a proper foundation to support future achievement. Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and Extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future,” said Cathie Woteki, USDA’s Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics. Read more »

New Ag Statistics Showcase Importance of U.S. Agriculture

Troy Joshua, Environmental, Economics, and Demographics Branch Chief at the National Agricultural Statistics Service briefs results from the Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production report at the 2015 Agricultural Outlook Forum. The report is part of the agency’s new Current Agricultural Industrial Reports program which provides a glimpse into the processing of agricultural products including fuels, cooking oils, flour, and fabric. Photo by USDA/NASS.

Troy Joshua, Environmental, Economics, and Demographics Branch Chief at the National Agricultural Statistics Service briefs results from the Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production report at the 2015 Agricultural Outlook Forum. The report is part of the agency’s new Current Agricultural Industrial Reports program which provides a glimpse into the processing of agricultural products including fuels, cooking oils, flour, and fabric. Photo by USDA/NASS.

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 profile.

At the recent Agricultural Outlook Forum I had the pleasure of speaking with hundreds of people regarding a new program I’m very excited about: the Current Agricultural Industrial Reports (CAIR). Here at NASS, we publish hundreds of reports every year on inventory, production, and values of U.S. agriculture products. The CAIR program takes us a step beyond. CAIR provides a glimpse into the processing of agricultural products such as fuels, cooking oils, flour, and fabric.

Data from the CAIR program are important to U.S. economic policy. Better data means better markets analysis, better strategic planning, better forecasting, and more well-informed business decisions and policies. That impacts every citizen. Read more »

Frost on the Chickens

Robert Frost (1874-1963), one of the most popular and respected American poets of the twentieth century, was also a chicken farmer and egg producer in New Hampshire. Photo by Fred Palumbo, 1941, Library of Congress.

Robert Frost (1874-1963), one of the most popular and respected American poets of the twentieth century, was also a chicken farmer and egg producer in New Hampshire. Photo by Fred Palumbo, 1941, Library of Congress.

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 profile.

A phone call to USDA’s National Agricultural Library (NAL) seeking the original magazines with Robert Frost’s first published prose has now given rise to the library’s newest online exhibit. But why did a Frost aficionado call an agricultural library looking for these?

Because, before Robert Frost became ROBERT FROST, he was a chicken farmer with 300 white Wyandotte hens from 1900 to 1909 in Derry, New Hampshire. However, Frost wasn’t ever really a good fit for farming—he had serious hay fever, for one—and coops and eggs were a long way from four Pulitzer prizes for poetry. Read more »

Cutting Edge Genetics Research for Wildlife and Fish Conservation

Kellie Carim, eDNA coordinator for the Genomics Center, collects and processes samples. (Photos by Michael Schwartz (left) and Katie Zarn, U.S. Forest Service)

Kellie Carim, eDNA coordinator for the Genomics Center, collects and processes samples. (Photos by Michael Schwartz (left) and Katie Zarn, U.S. Forest Service)

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 profile.

The U.S. Forest Service has a long history as a leader in conservation genetics, and this recently took an exciting step forward with the launch of the National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation.

The Forest Service’s wildlife genetics lab, which has been central to the Rocky Mountain Research Station’s conservation genetics program since 1998, has been reorganized and renamed to better reflect the scope of its work nationwide. The Center is a leading edge facility for advanced genomics research, nationally recognized, and works extensively with states, tribes, universities and private groups to address the management issues of over 60 fish and wildlife species. Read more »

Bill Gates, Computerized Plant Breeding and Contending with Hunger

Bill Gates learns to pollinate wheat from Cornell University assistant professor Jessica Rutkoski, while ARS geneticist Edward Buckler looks on. Photo credit: Robert Barker, Cornell University.

Bill Gates learns to pollinate wheat from Cornell University assistant professor Jessica Rutkoski, while ARS geneticist Edward Buckler looks on. Photo credit: Robert Barker, Cornell University.

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 profile.

Bill Gates, once simply of Microsoft fame, is now as famous for his dedication to reducing hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa and other goals that drive the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  He recently visited Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Plant, Soil and Nutrition Research Unit in Ithaca, NY, to learn what two geneticists are doing to improve crop breeding decisions that could be used in that part of the world.

At the research unit, ARS geneticist Edward Buckler is turning the encyclopedic amount of genetic information he has developed about corn into helping the crop yield the kind of improvements in Africa that have been made in North America. Varieties bred for North American climates simply do not work in Africa where they currently produce only about one-fifth the harvest they do in this country. Millions of hungry and extremely poor people can’t afford the hundred years it would take for conventional breeding that was once the path taken in the United States. Read more »