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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 »

Our Unwavering Efforts in Facilitating Bilateral Trade

USDA Undersecretary Edward Avalos visits an inspection site at the Chilean airport where commodities are evaluated before shipment to overseas markets.  Here, he inspects fruit bound for U.S. market to ensure they are free from damaging pests.

USDA Undersecretary Edward Avalos visits an inspection site at the Chilean airport where commodities are evaluated before shipment to overseas markets. Here, he inspects fruit bound for U.S. market to ensure they are free from damaging pests.

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting with US Department of Agriculture counterparts in both Chile and Peru. My travel to South America was an opportunity to discuss our most recent trade successes and how we can further build on this great relationship and momentum. 

In Chile, I met with the Chilean Minister of Agriculture, Carlos Furche and Chilean Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG) officials to discuss bilateral animal and plant health trade issues. US Ambassador to Chile, Michael Hammer, was also in attendance. To better understand their domestic processes and procedures for imports, I participated in a tour of a grocery store selling U.S. products including U.S. beef and visited a feedlot and a dairy farm as well as other agricultural sites near Santiago. This year Chile granted market access to U.S. live cattle and renewed domestic access to U.S. bovine embryos, more easily allowing Chile’s farmers to improve the national beef and dairy herds with genetics supplied from the U.S. The last time I visited Chile was five years ago, so it was great to refresh the cooperative and collaborative working relationship between USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and SAG. Read more »

Baby, it’s cold outside. Time to stock up on firewood.

Sections of a tree that’s been cut down showing a lot of damage from ALB, such as tunneling at the ends, exit holes and egg sites.

Sections of a tree that’s been cut down showing a lot of damage from ALB, such as tunneling at the ends, exit holes and egg sites.

 It’s fall in North America.  It’s the time of year that marks the transition from summer into winter.  It’s when the night time comes earlier and the weather cools considerably.  It’s also the time of year when most of us start to turn on our heat or start to acquire firewood. 

There are a lot of us that use firewood as a heat source.  According to U.S. Census data 2.4 million homes across the country are heated by wood.  This number does not include homes that use firewood as secondary heating or those of us that use it when we’re camping or even just to sit around in the yard.  Whether or not you use wood to heat your home or build a campfire, firewood is used by millions of Americans.  Read more »

‘Tis the Season to Talk Turkey

A turkey with vegetables

Thanksgiving is all about whole turkeys, which were produced and processed earlier in the year, outside of the HPAI outbreak. This means whole turkeys will be readily available and prices will largely be unchanged from last year. Photo courtesy Dan Tentler.

The Thanksgiving season is upon us, time for family homecomings, parades, and football games. More importantly, time for the annual turkey feast. As the marketing season hits full stride, the question on everyone’s lips this year is…will there be a shortage of turkeys? The simple answer is: no.

To fully answer the question though, we have to go back to late March when commercial turkey flocks in the Upper Midwestern production region were overtaken by rapid outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). HPAI, while harmless to humans, is devastating to turkeys and within a few short weeks over 7.5 million commercial turkeys succumbed to the disease.  While the total loss represented just over three percent of the total number of birds raised in the U.S. in 2014, the short time period during which losses occurred left the industry scrambling to cover their business needs. Read more »

Stewardship, Antibiotics and Veterinary Medical Ethics – A Call for Action

Veterinarian inspecting cattle

Veterinarian inspects cattle. Photo credit: R. Anson Eaglin, USDA, APHIS

Stewardship is an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. And as World Antibiotics Awareness Week comes to a close today, it’s important to note that the Veterinary Medicine profession too has a role to play in the use of antibiotics for animal health. This profession has ethical responsibilities as well as a vital role managing the use of antibiotics in food animal production that requires veterinary medical scientific training and knowledge.

Stewardship is a matter of principle; all veterinarians are expected to adhere to a progressive code of ethical conduct known as the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics (PVME). The PVME comprises the following Principles published and constantly under review by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Read more »

Fall Migration Underway – Make Sure to Protect Your Poultry with Good Biosecurity Practices

Chickens grazing on a pasture

Chickens grazing on a pasture.

Earlier this year, we experienced this country’s largest outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, affecting more than 200 commercial and backyard poultry flocks.  While there have been no new cases since mid-June, we ask that all poultry owners stay alert and be vigilant.  This virus can be carried by wild waterfowl (who do not get sick from it).  The fall migration is underway, so these migratory ducks, geese and other birds have the potential to bring the virus with them anywhere in the country.  It doesn’t mean they will – but they could.   So if you own or handle poultry, it is essential to follow good biosecurity practices at all times.

What is biosecurity?  Biosecurity means taking some simple steps to keep your birds away from germs AND germs away from your birds.   If you follow good biosecurity, you will help ensure your birds remain healthy.  As part of good biosecurity, you should prevent contact between your birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through the state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number: 1-866-536-7593. Read more »