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Category: Science

USDA Scientist’s Discoveries Boost Poultry Health

Dr. Hyun Lillehoj, ARS Research Molecular Biologist. ARS photo.

Dr. Hyun Lillehoj, ARS Research Molecular Biologist. ARS photo.

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.

When Hyun Lillehoj began her career as a scientist some 30 years ago, she never imagined that someday she’d receive a “thank you” in person from the President of the United States.

But that’s exactly what happened this past winter when Lillehoj was honored by President Barack Obama as winner of a Presidential Rank Award, one of several presented recently to honorees from various government agencies. Read more »

Family Farms Remain the Cornerstone of U.S. Agriculture

Small Family Farms as Percent of Total Farms, by State, 2012. NASS infographic.

Small Family Farms as Percent of Total Farms, by State, 2012. NASS infographic.

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.

As you can imagine, Census of Agriculture is a virtual data gold mine for an agricultural demographer. And as we celebrate U.S. agriculture this week, with the help of the Census data we can focus on the key element of our nation’s agriculture – family farms.

Of the 2.1 million farms in the United States in 2012, 97 percent were family-owned operations. Eighty-eight percent of all farms were small family farms. This group included farms such as retirement farms, farms with operators working part-time off-farm, as well as farms with less than $350,000 in gross cash farm income. Read more »

Tips for Starting an Organic Garden

Backyard organic gardening can be easier than you think – if you learn the basics. (Photo by Stephanie Engle)

Backyard organic gardening can be easier than you think – if you learn the basics. (Photo by Stephanie Engle)

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.

Even though there’s still snow on the ground over much of the country, it’s about time to start thinking about the logistics of planting your garden later this spring.  And while you’re thinking about it, why not consider going natural?

Whether you’re an avid gardener or just starting out, the idea of creating a garden using organic methods can seem overwhelming at first. But organic gardening is less daunting than you may think if you understand some basic principles; it’s about creating a more holistic, natural ecosystem and can be done right in your own backyard. Read more »

Ag Science on Wheels

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.

Carolyn Menne, an instructor with the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation (MAEF), quieted the kindergartners seated in the aisle of the outreach organization’s Mobile Science Laboratory, parked at the Beltsville Academy in Beltsville, Maryland.

She held up a purple Baltimore Ravens T-shirt, prompting some kids to cheer, while others looked on politely. (It turned out that they were Washington fans.) The shirt was one of about a dozen items Menne used to illustrate the connections between agriculture and the students’ daily lives—including popular sporting events they like to watch, such as a Ravens football game. Read more »

Black History Beyond February: REE’s Enduring Commitment to Communities of Color

USDA Deputy Under Secretary Ann Bartuska (center) tours the Mandela Foods Cooperative run in West Oakland by Mandela Marketplace Inc., a non-profit organization that has used USDA funding to help develop the community-owned grocery store, as well as community farm stands and a food distribution program. Mandela MarketPlace's projects have brought 500,000 pounds of fresh produce into low-income West Oakland.

USDA Deputy Under Secretary Ann Bartuska (center) tours the Mandela Foods Cooperative run in West Oakland by Mandela Marketplace Inc., a non-profit organization that has used USDA funding to help develop the community-owned grocery store, as well as community farm stands and a food distribution program. Mandela MarketPlace's projects have brought 500,000 pounds of fresh produce into low-income West Oakland.

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 recognizing February as Black History Month, President Obama called officials to “…reflect on our progress…” and “recommit to advancing what has been left undone.” At USDA, this topical charge is simply how we do business all year. We can’t adequately expand economic opportunity through innovation, promote sustainable agricultural production, or protect our natural resources without recognizing our past and tackling the challenges of today. Our Research, Education and Economics (REE) mission area’s engagement with the African-American community is not confined to a calendrical month; it is a thread in the institutional tapestry of broader dedication to service through agricultural research and education. Read more »

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 »