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America’s Diverse Family Farms

Family Farms table infographic

America’s Diverse Family Farms report categorizes farms based on annual revenue, operator’s primary occupation, and the family/nonfamily ownership of the farm.

Describing the structure of the U.S. farm sector is challenging because farms vary widely in size and other characteristics.  Are they largely family businesses, or corporate operations?  U.S. farms range from very small retirement and residential holdings to businesses with sales in the millions of dollars.

To better understand U.S. agriculture, USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) recently released America’s Diverse Family Farms.  The report categorizes farms into homogenous groupings based on the annual revenue of the farm, primary occupation of the principal operator, and family/nonfamily ownership of the farm. Read more »

Deck the Halls with Holiday Data

Christmas Trees infographic

U.S. Christmas tree growers harvested and sold 20 million trees last year, up 55 percent in 5 years.

From the smell of fresh pine, to the vibrant colors of poinsettias, the holiday season is the perfect time of year to spotlight America’s horticulture growers through the just released 2014 Census of Horticultural Specialties report. I’ve experienced firsthand how unique and amazing this industry is by working nationwide with producers and stakeholders as USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics (NASS) nursery and floriculture commodity specialist.

For example, did you know farmers can invest more than 8 years growing a Christmas tree for harvest? While there are not many producers dedicated to this work, according to our latest report industry sales grew. In 2014, there were 3,386 Christmas tree producers in the United States. That year there were a total of 20 million cut Christmas trees sold, valued at $367 million in sales. This was a significant increase from the last report in 2009, when only 13 million trees were cut and sold for a total of $250 million. Read more »

The Chugach Children’s Forest is Transforming Lives for Future Generations

Chugach Children’s Forest alumni and their mentors taking a selfie with U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell

Chugach Children’s Forest alumni and their mentors take a selfie with U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. (Photo credit/Chugach Children’s Forest)

“If you were to tell me three years ago that in two years, I would be camping a couple feet away from a glacier and kayaking next to icebergs, I would tell you that you are out of your mind,” said Isabel Azpilcueta.

But life takes us in unexpected directions, and that is exactly what Isabel – a Chugach Children’s Forest alumni – found herself doing during a Habitat Restoration Kayaking Expedition on the Chugach National Forest, in Alaska. Read more »

Oh Maple Syrup, How I Love Thee. Let me Count the Ways.

MDAR Maple ALB Poster

Poster created by the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture to promote maple syrup and stop Asian longhorned beetle.

Okay, yes it’s Maple Syrup Day, an unofficial holiday, but the day allows us to celebrate and recognize this often underrated commodity. So in honor of this lovely product, here are some interesting tidbits that you may not know.

I use maple syrup on many things; not just pancakes, waffles and French toast, but also in recipes like soups and casseroles, to sweeten granola or oatmeal, even coffee. I’ve used it on ice cream and even snow, on salads and in salad dressings. My own step-father is known to take a shot of maple syrup every now-and-then. It is delightful on its own. Maple syrup can also be used to make maple cream, maple sugar, and maple candy. Read more »

Saving Our Forest Heritage in a Vault

Whitebark pine at Crater Lake National Park

Whitebark pine at Crater Lake National Park.

Trees are often referred to as the lungs of the earth, providing not only the oxygen we need to breathe but a filter to clean our air and water. Trees from forested lands provide timber for our homes, food for people and wildlife, protection from weather extremes and, in urban and rural settings, beautify cities and landscapes alike.

As the largest steward of forested lands in the nation, the U.S. Forest Service works to protect and enhance forest resources not only on National Forests, but on all the Nation’s forests. Our agency puts a lot of effort into safeguarding trees where they grow, but trees are increasingly at risk from fire, changes in climate, insects, diseases and development. Read more »

Where Passion Meets Purpose: The Snow Survey

Hydrologist Randy Julander

Hydrologist Randy Julander has been managing Utah’s snow survey program for the past 24 years.

“To say I enjoy my job is an understatement,” said Hydrologist Randy Julander. “Monday is my favorite day of the week, because I get to go back to work.”

As the Snow Survey Data Collection Officer in Utah, Julander’s job is a mix of science, adventure and artistry. He weaves information from data. “Data are just numbers on a page; but information – now that’s something meaningful, something that informs decision makers,” he explained. Read more »