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One Year Later – USDA in the Brave New World of Open Data

It’s hard to believe that it has been a year since USDA embarked on its push to make its data available to you.  As you know, open data is free, public data that can be used to: launch commercial and nonprofit ventures; conduct research; make data-driven decisions; and help solve complex problems. It is our hope that USDA data fosters innovation, economic growth and improves American lives. While USDA continues to collect and make available USDA datasets to the public, we also are engaging stakeholders so that we can use that feedback to improve future data submissions.

One year later, USDA has published over 800 data sets on usda.gov/data and data.gov.  Considering the vast mission of the Department, we are proud of this accomplishment, specifically: Read more »

When Exotic Fish are Away, Hawaiian Waterbirds Will Stay

Invertebrates are an important food source for native waterbirds, including endangered ae‘o (Hawaiian Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus knudseni) chicks. (U.S. Forest Service/Rich MacKenzie)

Invertebrates are an important food source for native waterbirds, including endangered ae‘o (Hawaiian Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus knudseni) chicks. (U.S. Forest Service/Rich MacKenzie)

Coastal wetlands the world over are known for harboring an impressive array of plants and animals. In the Pacific Islands, wetlands not only provide habitat for many unique species, including some threatened and endangered waterbirds, but also support communities of people who rely on these special places for food and other essentials.

Human development, agriculture, and rising seas are encroaching upon these wetland ecosystems and causing visible and profound changes. Another threat, less obvious to the casual observer, lurks beneath the water’s surface: non-native fish. Researchers with the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station’s Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry are studying the threats posed by exotic fish species and working with partners to battle the gilled invaders. Read more »

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 »