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Investing in Collaborative Conservation to Address Global Food Security Challenges

This blog was cross-posted on the Chicago Council’s Global Food for Thought blog.

Farmers, ranchers and foresters have long understood the need to care for our land and water. We depend on them for food, clothing and shelter – and they depend on our natural resources for their livelihoods. 

The conversation about global food security rightly focuses on the most pressing issues of access, nutritional value, food safety, and productivity. Conservation and resource use are intrinsically tied to each of these challenges, but are not always a focal point. Read more »

Arizona 4-H Director Earns Awards for Leadership in Nepal

Kirk Astroth, center, in Nepal

Kirk Astroth, center, traveled to Nepal to teach a train-the-trainer program that led to Nepal’s first 4-H national organization. Astroth, director of the Arizona 4-H Youth Development program, won both the Volunteer of the Month and Volunteer Spirit of the Year awards from Winrock International for his efforts. (Photo from the Kirk Astroth archives)

With more than 6.5 million American youth actively involved in 4-H, it’s not unusual to think of 4-H as an “All-American” tradition – and that’s OK, but there’s more to the story.  The fact is, it is estimated that more than 7 million youth in 80 countries around the world are 4-H’ers.  Now, thanks to the efforts of a man from Arizona, the mountainous Asian nation of Nepal has joined the 4-H family.

Kirk Astroth, director of the Arizona 4-H Youth Development program within University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, spent August and September 2014 in Nepal teaching local youth development professionals the finer points of creating a 4-H program and laying the groundwork for three members of the Nepal National Youth Federation to attend the 1st Global 4-H Summit in South Korea.  As a result, the group in January received official government recognition for the Nepal 4-H national organization. Read more »

USDA Marketing Order Provides Ingredients for Olive Industry’s Success

Man working on family farm

A commitment to consistency, marketing, and research. These factors help the nearly 1,000 family farms from California supply 95 percent of the ripe olives grown in the U.S. Photo courtesy of the California Olive Committee.

Each industry has its own recipe for success. For the ripe olive industry, the recipe for success includes many ingredients. This includes a commitment to consistency, marketing, and research. These factors help the nearly 1,000 family farms from California supply 95 percent of the ripe olives grown in the U.S.

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) provides the ripe olive industry many of the ingredients for its success. One of the ways we do this is by overseeing the federal marketing order for olives grown in California, which is administered locally by the California Olive Committee. Federal marketing orders and agreements are requested by various groups in the U.S. produce industry to help growers and handlers within a geographic region to overcome marketing barriers and increase awareness of the commodity. Industry groups get together to decide the tools needed to support the commercial and financial success of the businesses in the industry. Read more »

How MyPlate Inspired One California Student to Make a Difference on her College Campus

MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) host nutrition events for other students on their campus.

MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) host nutrition events for other students on their campus.

We love hearing success stories from our MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors! Over 3,450 students, representing all 50 states, have signed on to take part in the MyPlate On Campus initiative, USDA’s effort to promote healthy eating on college campuses nationwide through peer-to-peer education. Read below about how one group of passionate students is helping to spread the MyPlate message. Also, be sure to check out what MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors have been up to at Rutgers University and University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Guest post by Sitoya Mansell, MPH, CHES President, Residential Nutrition Wellness Program, and Gena Alltizer, President, CSUSB Nutrition Student Association

After becoming a MyPlate On Campus Ambassador in 2013, California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) student and Nutrition and Food Sciences major Sitoya Mansell was inspired to create a nutrition program for students on her campus.  Coming to college is a major transition for many students, and Sitoya saw the need to guide students in making healthy choices in their newly independent lives.  With the assistance of the DPD Director of Nutrition and Food Sciences and the Office of Residential Living, a nutrition education program called the Residential Nutrition Wellness Program (RNWP) was created for students living in campus housing and dormitories. Read more »

Earth Team Individuals Volunteer More than Just Time

Matthew Roberts received the National Earth Team Individual Award for volunteering more than 1,000 hours at the NRCS Wytheville Service Center. NRCS photo.

Matthew Roberts received the National Earth Team Individual Award for volunteering more than 1,000 hours at the NRCS Wytheville Service Center. NRCS photo.

We’ve all heard the old adage, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” For Matthew Roberts, the “who” was only a first step on a path that has led him to contribute more than 1,000 hours of volunteer service to the Wytheville, Virginia Service Center and his community.

Matt’s career coach thought the Earth Team program would be a great fit for the Wytheville Community College student and referred him to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Little did anyone know how good a fit that would turn out to be. Read more »

The Bayou State: Louisiana Agriculture Keeps Rising

It’s not surprising, but the Bayou State leads the nation in several aquaculture categories.  Be sure to check back next week for more fun facts from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

It’s not surprising, but the Bayou State leads the nation in several aquaculture categories. Be sure to check back next week for more fun facts from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

It seems that we have just wrapped up the most recent Census of Agriculture, and yet it’s been a year since those data came out. Since then we have also been able to fully wrap up follow-on surveys on irrigation and aquaculture. The latter is especially relevant to us here in Louisiana, as we had 500 aquaculture farms, which sold $90.6 million worth of aquaculture products, according to the 2013 Census of Aquaculture.

Crustaceans (crawfish, shrimp, and prawns) were produced on 566 farms in the U.S. in 2013.  Of these, 407 farms were In Louisiana.  In 2013, the U.S. crustacean sales totaled $84.9 million, with 42 percent of all of these sales coming from Louisiana. That year our aquaculture farmers sold $35.3 million worth of crustaceans.  U.S. farms producing mollusks, including snails, oysters and clams, totaled 756 with sales totaling $329 million.  Louisiana had 39 farms producing mollusks with a sales value of $13.4 million. Read more »