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Unique Collaboration Strategy Brings Trail Users Together in Georgia National Forests

Trail users of all types take part in a Trails 101 course offered through CoTrails in January 2012 on the Anna Ruby Falls trail.  One of the goals of CoTrails is to educate and engage a robust volunteer force to assist with trail maintenance and planning efforts.  Photo credit: USDA Forest Service/Judy Toppins

Trail users of all types take part in a Trails 101 course offered through CoTrails in January 2012 on the Anna Ruby Falls trail. One of the goals of CoTrails is to educate and engage a robust volunteer force to assist with trail maintenance and planning efforts. Photo credit: USDA Forest Service/Judy Toppins

The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests in Georgia receive 2.2 million visitors each year, and their primary activity is use of 850 miles of designated system trails. But it’s not only hikers that take advantage of the recreation opportunities which these trails provide. Cyclists, hunters, anglers, off-highway vehicle enthusiasts and horseback riders all recreate on national forest trails– and they don’t always see eye-to-eye. Read more »

The United States is China’s Soybean Supplier of Choice

Last week was a momentous one for U.S.-China agricultural relations. In addition to the productive meetings that took place in Washington and Des Moines, I was honored to witness the signing of an agreement between the U.S. soybean industry and Chinese buyers who agreed to purchase more than 8.6 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans in the coming year. That’s about $4.3 billion worth of soybeans, or 317 million bushels.

The signing of that purchase agreement represents another very important milestone in the U.S.-China trade relationship, a relationship that continues to grow and flourish – in large part thanks to agricultural trade.  Last fiscal year, for the first time ever, China was the number one market for U.S. food and agricultural exports. And it was also the top market, by far, for U.S. soybeans. In fact, China purchased nearly 60 percent of the U.S. soybeans sold internationally last year. Read more »

Eight Former Secretaries of Agriculture Speaking at USDA’s 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum

A historic gathering of former Secretaries of Agriculture will commemorate USDA’s celebration of the Department’s 150th anniversary and founding in 1862.  On February 23 at the 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will moderate a plenary panel of eight former Secretaries of Agriculture invited to speak on “Agriculture: Visions of the Future” at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va. Read more »

Organics Take A Major Step Forward with U.S.-EU Partnership

EU Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Cioloş (left) Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced that the United States and the European Union formed a partnership that will recognize the two organic programs as equivalent and allow access to each other's markets. The announcement was made at the BioFach World Organic Fair in Nuremberg, Germany on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. Photo courtesy of the European Commission.

EU Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Cioloş (left) Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced that the United States and the European Union formed a partnership that will recognize the two organic programs as equivalent and allow access to each other's markets. The announcement was made at the BioFach World Organic Fair in Nuremberg, Germany on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. Photo courtesy of the European Commission.

Travis Forgues is an organic dairy farmer in the town of Alburgh in northwest Vermont, almost at the Canadian border and surrounded on three sides by Lake Champlain. Like many of the other dairy farmers in northern Vermont, Travis is a realist. He went to college. He tried city life. But he was born into farming, and that’s how he wanted to raise his own family. So Travis went to his dad and had a talk about organic farming, and he convinced his father, and then many others, to convert their land from conventional agricultural practices to organic. As Travis saw it, organics was a growing niche within American agriculture, and consumer demand for organically produced dairy was taking off. Better still, consumers were willing to pay more for organic products. Today, as a result of Travis’ work, nearly 130 dairy farmers across New England have signed on to the “New England Pastures” organic dairy cooperative for Organic Valley. Read more »

We Can’t Wait: Bringing New Investments to Rural Communities by Leveraging Existing Programs

Cross posted from the White House blog:

Since the formation of the White House Rural Council in June 2011, we have had a unique opportunity to provide recommendations on how to grow the economy and create jobs in rural America.

The feedback we’re providing to the White House, based on our travels throughout the countryside, has helped us find creative ways to move the country forward without relying on Congress to act because rural Americans can’t wait. Read more »

Making Science Real through STEM Education

Students in the Schmahl Science Workshop and the Greene Scholars Program recently discussed their research projects with Deputy Under Secretary Ann Bartuska, pictured here (center) with Gloria Whitaker-Daniels (left), and Belinda Lowe-Schmahl (right)” (Photo Credit:  Belinda Lowe-Schmahl)

Students in the Schmahl Science Workshop and the Greene Scholars Program recently discussed their research projects with Deputy Under Secretary Ann Bartuska, pictured here (center) with Gloria Whitaker-Daniels (left), and Belinda Lowe-Schmahl (right)” (Photo Credit: Belinda Lowe-Schmahl)

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 the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Developing a rapid, inexpensive biosensor to detect salmonella on vegetables; expanding understanding of the antimicrobial properties of nutmeg; finding a non-invasive method to test for glucose levels.  Read more »