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Category: Technology and Broadband

#USDARoadTrip: USDA Innovates to Meet Your Needs

A person holding a digital map on a smart phone

Digital maps available for your smart phone help visitors find their way around U.S. Forest Service forests and grasslands.

USDA is in the solutions business. And now more than ever, we’re committed to working beside farmers, ranchers, rural businesses and partners to find innovative and collaborative solutions that meet the ever-evolving interests of the American people.

This week, as part of our USDA summer road trip, we’ll take you through a few of our signature advancements from recent years that help us to better serve your needs, including a series of mobile and web based applications that allow you to interact with USDA programs and services your way. Read more »

Second Morrill Act Redux: America’s 1890s Land Grant Universities Academic Excellence

1890s 125th logo

USDA joins everyone celebrating 125 years of the Second Morrill Act, which has provided educational opportunities for all.

Booker T. Washington.  George Washington Carver.  Educators par excellence.  Pioneers in food and agricultural scientific research. Dedicated their lives to helping “lift the veil of ignorance” by bringing knowledge to African-Americans and others with limited resources.

For 125 years, since passage of the Second Morrill Act on Aug. 30, 1890, which created a “broader education for the American people in the arts of peace, and especially in agriculture and mechanics arts,” the legacy of innovations has been sustained. Read more »

Financing for Development Conference Boosts Support for Open Data

At the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, leaders across the globe, in the public, non-governmental, and private sectors, committed to sharing and using data and to investing in the capacity to collect and analyze this data for sustainable development. Open data, particularly open data relevant to agriculture and nutrition, is a powerful tool for long-term sustainable development, improving the economic opportunities for farmers and contributing to the health of all consumers.  Making open data work for agriculture and nutrition requires a shared agenda to increase the supply, quality, and interoperability of data, alongside action to build capacity for the use of data by all stakeholders.

The United States made several pledges at FfD including increasing support for global efforts to make agricultural and nutritionally relevant data available, accessible, and usable for unrestricted use worldwide.  As a cornerstone of this support, the United States will expand and deepen its commitment to the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative. This commitment will encourage collaboration and cooperation among existing agriculture and open data activities, without duplication, and will bring together stakeholders to solve long-standing global problems with a priority toward improving global food security. Specifically, the United States will provide $4 million in support of the GODAN Secretariat, matching the contribution provided by the United Kingdom. Read more »

#USDARoadTrip: Investments in Rural Utilities

A technician installing cables at Pine Net Telephone and internet stations

A technician installs cables at Pine Net Telephone and internet stations. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

Here at USDA, we know utilities mean more than just flipping a switch or turning on a faucet. Access to crucial rural infrastructure helps boost trade opportunities for rural businesses, create jobs, and strengthen our nation’s economy as a whole. That’s why we’re making smart investments to lay the groundwork for long-term prosperity in communities across the country and to provide the foundation needed for rural economies to thrive.

By spurring smart and sustainable infrastructure growth and by helping rural communities manage utility costs, we’re opening the door to a world of opportunities for rural businesses everywhere. Updated water and water treatment systems, increased renewable energy sources, and access to affordable, reliable electric systems and broadband all work to improve the quality of life for our nation’s rural residents, and open possibilities to connect to the global economy. Read more »

Big Data for Small Producers – USDA Market News Now Covers 85 Farmers Markets

The Des Moines Farmers Market

As local and regional food systems continue to expand, so does the need for reliable market data. USDA Market News now captures data on over 85 farmers markets in the U.S. Pictured here is the Des Moines Farmers Market, which draws an average of 20,000 visitors a weekend. Photo courtesy of Des Moines, Iowa Farmers Market.

Farmers markets are an important part of local and regional food systems.  Nationwide, 150,000 farmers and ranchers are selling their products directly to consumers to meet the growing demand for local food.  Many sell their products at farmers markets, which can be a catalyst for future growth. 

According to USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, there are over 8,400 farmers markets across the country serving as community gathering places where America’s food producers are building successful businesses and bringing fresh, local food to their communities.  As local and regional food systems continue to expand, so does the need for reliable market data. Read more »

FNS Requests Feedback to Strengthen Program Integrity, Improve Technology

SNAP EBT cards

FNS is looking for ways to increase competition in the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is committed to supporting struggling families and helping the most vulnerable Americans put food on the table.  Today, over 60 percent of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants are children, elderly, or have disabilities.   The WIC program – officially known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – plays a vital role in the health of low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants and young children during critical periods of growth and development.

So it’s no surprise that we’re dedicated to ensuring participants have efficient access to programs essential to their health and well-being.  To this end, FNS is looking for ways to increase competition in the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system, the process by which most benefits are redeemed.  All SNAP state and local agencies and some WIC agencies conduct EBT using magnetic stripe cards similar to debit or credit cards.  By FY 2021, all WIC agencies will be required to use EBT. Read more »