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Focus on Soil Health Drives Innovation, Moisture Preservation for an Oregon Farmer

David Brewer is a fifth-generation farmer who manages the Emerson Dell Farm, which was founded in 1883. NRCS photo by Ron Nichols.

David Brewer is a fifth-generation farmer who manages the Emerson Dell Farm, which was founded in 1883. NRCS photo by Ron Nichols.

Without irrigation, it’s hard to imagine growing a cash crop in an environment that receives less than 12 inches of precipitation annually. Welcome to the world of grain farmers in central and eastern Oregon.

David Brewer is one of those farmers. But rather than looking to the sky for help, he’s looking to the soil — improving its health in an effort to retain and preserve every drop of precipitation that happens to fall on his farm.

Brewer is a fifth-generation farmer who manages the Emerson Dell Farm, which was founded in 1883, and now includes more than 2,000 acres of cropland and 800 acres of pasture — just southeast of The Dalles, Oregon. Read more »

GODAN Partnership Continues to Flourish in the Netherlands

Jaime Adams, Senior Advisor for International Affairs, participates in GODAN strategic planning discussions.

Jaime Adams, Senior Advisor for International Affairs, participates in GODAN strategic planning discussions.

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.

Good day, or “Goede dag as they say in Dutch.  And a good several days we experienced in the Netherlands at the 3rd Annual meeting of the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) partnership.  Although the tulips had not yet blossomed, the excitement about the accomplishments and vision for the GODAN partnership were in full bloom among all attendees.

I recently accompanied Dr. Cathie Woteki, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, to the GODAN meeting hosted by the Government of the Netherlands, along with Wageningen University.  This was the first GODAN partner meeting organized by CABI who has been selected to lead the effort on the GODAN executive secretariat. Read more »

Super Bowl “Super Kid” Promotes Exercise, Healthy Eating

Meet Bobby, a “Super Kid” who champions nutritious food choices and physical activity for America’s school children. Photo courtesy of Fuel Up to Play 60.

Meet Bobby, a “Super Kid” who champions nutritious food choices and physical activity for America’s school children. Photo courtesy of Fuel Up to Play 60.

Minutes before the National Football League (NFL) teams of Super Bowl XLIX took the field, a middle school student from Orlando, Fla., had the honor of handing the game ball to an NFL official for the kickoff. But Bobby did much more than hand off that football. As this year’s NFL Play 60 “Super Kid,” the 12-year-old boy helped to inspire students across America to exercise daily and eat healthier foods.

He accomplished this feat through his relentless work with the Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) program, an outreach and education initiative founded by the National Dairy Council and the NFL, in collaboration with USDA. The program encourages youth in nearly 73,000 schools, representing almost 36 million students, to consume nutrient-rich foods—low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruit, vegetables and whole grains—and achieve 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Read more »

Local Food Systems: What Do We Know About National Trends?

Farms with intermediated sales of local foods are located largely in urban counties. Source: USDA Economic Research Service, data from Census of Agriculture, 2012; Agricultural Marketing Service, 2014.

Farms with intermediated sales of local foods are located largely in urban counties.

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.

American consumers are enjoying increasingly more opportunities to buy food directly from farmers and to patronize grocery stores and restaurants that offer local foods. Policymakers have taken notice, and as part of Congress’s FY14 Appropriations Bill, the House Agriculture Committee asked the Economic Research Service (ERS) to report on the scope of local and regional food systems and recent national trends. The result – Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: Report to Congress – details the latest economic information on local food producers and consumers, and reviews policies supporting local food systems.

The ERS report poses questions like how rapidly direct-to-consumer farm sales are growing, some characteristics of local-food farms, and the level of organic farm participation in local food sales. It addresses consumer issues such as willingness to pay premium prices for some local foods, and how local food prices compare with those at retail outlets. Read more »

‘Five Faces of the Farm Bill’ Series and New Multimedia Channel Bring the Farm Bill to Life

Today, we begin a month-long effort to highlight the one-year anniversary of the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill, by launching a new multimedia channel packed with compelling stories, stunning photography and even a personal note from Secretary Vilsack to USDA’s friends, partners and staff; “It is because of you that this has been called ‘the most successful Farm Bill implementation.’”

Signed into law on Feb. 7, 2014 by President Obama, the Farm Bill has allowed USDA to continue record accomplishments on behalf of the American people, while providing new opportunities and creating jobs across rural America. Read more »

Farm Bill Program Helps Improve Water Quality in the Delaware River Watershed

Deputy Under Secretary Ann Mills announces Farm Bill funding support to improve water quality in the Delaware River Basin. NRCS photo.

Deputy Under Secretary Ann Mills announces Farm Bill funding support to improve water quality in the Delaware River Basin. NRCS photo.

The Delaware River watershed is one of our nation’s most treasured resources. It is home to more than 7 million people and the water supply for more than 15 million in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. An historic new Farm Bill program at USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will help farmers and local leaders make investments to keep the watershed healthy and vibrant for years to come.

Secretary Vilsack recently announced the recipients of the 2014 Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) awards.  This new program will invest $1.2 billion over five years in innovative, partner-driven strategies to protect air and water quality, make more efficient use of water resources, restore habitat and protect open spaces.  This year’s RCPP awards nation-wide total more than $370 million dollars. Counting the dollar-for-dollar partner match, almost three quarters of a billion dollars will be invested in private land conservation through the RCPP. Read more »