USDA employees, Paul Youngstrum and Eric McTaggart, examine a cover crop radish. NRCS photo by Jody Christiansen.
Corn and soybean farmers across the nation saw an increase in yields last year thanks in part to soil health-building cover crops.
More than 1,900 farmers responded last winter to a survey about cover crops conducted by the USDA’s North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and the Conservation Technology Information Center. The results to the survey were released in late fall.
Farmers who planted corn in a field following a cover crop had a 3.1 percent increase in yield compared to side-by-side fields with no cover crops. Likewise, soybean yields increased 4.3 percent following cover crops, according to the survey. Read more »
The graphic above illustrates how proposed new federal standards could help reduce poultry-related Salmonella illnesses by an estimated 50,000 each year. Click to enlarge.
It’s no secret that Americans eat a lot of chicken and turkey. In fact, USDA estimates that a single American will eat 102 pounds of poultry in 2015. It is USDA’s job to ensure the meat and poultry products we enjoy are also safe to eat, and that means adapting federal food safety regulations to meet changes in production technology, scientific understanding of foodborne illness, and consumer demand.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 1 million Americans contract foodborne Salmonella poisoning each year, and 200,000 of those illnesses can be attributed to poultry. Today, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service proposed new food safety standards that would reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter, another common cause of foodborne illness, on ground chicken and turkey, as well as chicken legs, breasts and wings, which represent the majority of poultry items that Americans purchase and feed their families. Read more »
Innovation, biotechnology and big data are changing the way we produce, distribute and even consume food. From using innovative approaches to improve food safety to sharing market data to assist producers in reaching larger markets, big data and new technologies continue to change the face of agriculture. USDA strives to meet these evolving challenges and will be discussing these issues through the lens of agriculture at the 2015 Agricultural Outlook Forum on Feb. 19-20 in Arlington, Virginia.
Big data isn’t just massive amounts of numbers and codes for scientists, researchers and marketers. That information, when interpreted and applied, can help people understand – and change – the world around them. We are discussing how data helps producers of agricultural commodities in adapting their strategies to meet changing consumer demands, marketing practices and technologies. Read more »
USDA’s new unseasoned chicken strip provides school chefs with versatile and healthy options.
School lunches have evolved since many of our childhood days to keep pace with new dietary guidelines and school meal patterns, but one food has been an enduring component: chicken. The popular protein graces the center of the plate in a variety of forms and flavors, and the new USDA Foods unseasoned chicken strip provides school nutrition professionals with a versatile and healthy option to add to their recipes. USDA develops new products for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) based on feedback from states and school districts. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how chicken flies the coop from farms to a pilot program to cafeterias across the country.
Did you know that on any given day, USDA Foods comprise 15 to 20 percent of the value of food served on the lunch line, or that the School Year 2015 Foods Available List contains more than 200 options? For more than 70 years, USDA has provided states with 100 percent American grown food for school lunches to support the dual mission of strengthening our nutrition safety net and supporting American agriculture. The unseasoned, non-breaded chicken strip is just the latest contribution to a long history of providing nutritious foods for school meals. Read more »
New “USDA Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) Calculator for Healthcare Professionals” app allows users to keep track of nutrient calculations and recommendations based on the DRI values.
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.
The USDA National Agricultural Library’s (NAL) Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) today launched its mobile application, or “app,” which calculates Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs). The “USDA Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) Calculator for Healthcare Professionals” app allows users to keep track of nutrient calculations and recommendations that are based on the DRI values in a more convenient and user-friendly format. Through this new app, healthcare professionals can save time in the nutrition care process for patients and clients, while having access to credible nutrition guidance.
The National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine first developed the DRIs in the mid-1990s. DRIs are recommended amounts of each nutrient a healthy person should consume to prevent deficiency or harmful health effects. Initially presented in tables, this information allows healthcare professionals to use the DRIs to assess and plan diets for groups or individuals. For example, if you are a female between 19 and 50, your registered dietitian or doctor may recommend that you increase your dairy consumption to meet the 1,000mg/day calcium recommendation outlined in the DRIs. The DRIs are also used in policy-making such as setting calorie and sodium guidelines for healthy school lunches. Read more »
Andy and Melissa Dunham, seen here with daughter Leonora, own and operate Grinnell Heritage Farm in Grinnell, Iowa. NRCS photo by Ron Nichols.
Some people are born to farm. Others grow to love it. In Melissa Dunham’s case, she fell in love with a farmer — and now she loves both the farmer and the farm.
“I was happily employed in the Twin Cities, but then I fell in love with this wonderful man who told me he was an organic vegetable farmer,” Melissa said. “I thought, ‘Sure, why not?’ We got married within seven months.”
It was an unexpected career and life change. “Everybody thought I was nuts moving down here to central Iowa to be a farmer,” she said. But now she’s growing food she believes in — and in a way that will leave the land in better condition for the generations to follow. Read more »