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‘Ag in Action’ Lab on Wheels Brings the Farm to Alabama Schools

Many partners, including NRCS, helped create the Ag in Action, a traveling environmental education tool in Alabama. NRCS photo.

Many partners, including NRCS, helped create the Ag in Action, a traveling environmental education tool in Alabama. NRCS photo.

A new 26-foot learning lab on wheels enables Alabama’s elementary and middle school students to experience farming through hands-on activities and audio visual technology. The “Ag in Action” lab is the first of its kind in Alabama and one of only four in the nation.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency partnered with seven soil and water conservation districts and other groups to create this education tool.

“Ag in Action is an amazing way to bring agriculture to life and teach students about agriculture,” said the lab’s coordinator, Sarah Butterworth. “Using the lab, students will learn where their food and fiber grows and how it is produced.” Read more »

Absence Makes the Market Grow Fonder

USDA Market News reporter Holly Mozal teaches a Cochran Fellowship group from Haiti about our Market News database.  We capture data for everything from cotton, fruits, vegetables and specialty crops, livestock, meats, poultry, eggs, grain and hay, to milk and dairy, and tobacco.

USDA Market News reporter Holly Mozal teaches a Cochran Fellowship group from Haiti about our Market News database. We capture data for everything from cotton, fruits, vegetables and specialty crops, livestock, meats, poultry, eggs, grain and hay, to milk and dairy, and tobacco.

At some point in our lives, we all wonder what it would be like if we didn’t exist.  How would things be different?  Last month, American farmers and businesses experienced what it was like to live without USDA Market News.  While the markets continued to operate, we received several phone calls and heard stories of how so many small and mid-sized producers struggled without the valuable information we provide.

In the 100-year history of Market News, this was only the second time that the data reports were not available.  The reports give farmers, producers and other agricultural businesses the information they need to evaluate market conditions, identify trends, make purchasing decisions, monitor price patterns, evaluate transportation equipment needs and accurately assess movement.  The information, gathered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and provided for free,  captures data for everything from cotton, fruits, vegetables and specialty crops, livestock, meats, poultry, eggs, grain and hay, to milk and dairy, and tobacco. Read more »

Rehabilitated Bear Cubs Return Home to the Wild

Earlier this year (see July 31 blog), the USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services National Wildlife Research Center’s (NWRC) field station in Millville, Utah, agreed to house two orphaned black bear cubs as part of a collaborative rehabilitation effort with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (Division).

The bears did well in captivity gaining enough weight to be re-released into the wild in early November. The young bears arrived at the facility weighing approximately 30 pounds and left weighing over 120 pounds. The two young male bears were fed bear chow (similar to dog food), fish, nuts, and fresh fruits and vegetables donated from a local grocery store and farmers. In addition to being well-fed, the bears had plenty of enrichment opportunities in their pen including a tire swing, climbing trees and logs, and a mini swimming pool. Read more »

Forest Service Encourages Youth to Play Outdoors

Children gather around Regional Forester Randy Moore’s desk as he signed a proclamation endorsing the California Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. The Pacific Southwest Region supports the Children’s Bill of Rights, which encourages children to experience outdoor activities. (U.S. Forest Service/Mario Chocooj)

Children gather around Regional Forester Randy Moore’s desk as he signed a proclamation endorsing the California Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. The Pacific Southwest Region supports the Children’s Bill of Rights, which encourages children to experience outdoor activities. (U.S. Forest Service/Mario Chocooj)

Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Randy Moore believes that every child should have the opportunity to go camping, take a hike and explore nature. And with the stroke of a pen, he signed in late September a proclamation endorsing the California Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights as a group of children gathered to watch.

Moore wanted to publicly show the Pacific Southwest Region’s support for the statewide initiative, which was created to encourage children to experience outdoor activities and promote active, healthy lifestyles.

“You all represent the future,” said Moore to the children huddled around his desk. “It is important for us to have you learn about the outdoors, and we want you to enjoy being outdoors.” Read more »

Successful Launch of the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative

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.

Exciting times are ahead for the future of global agriculture, development, and health.  On October 31, the US delegation returned from successfully launching the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative at the Open Government Partnership Summit in London. GODAN, a partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom governments, focuses on opening agricultural and nutrition data. Working with over 50 partners, GODAN expects to keep the momentum rolling, welcoming additional partners to join the initiative before the first GODAN partner meeting. Read more »

Providing Opportunity Yields Long-Term Insight

Over the years, Oscar Vizcarra’s vineyard and family farm has become a thriving business.  Vizcarra brought his insight and experience to the table as a member of USDA’s Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Industry Committee. Photo courtesy Vizcarra Vineyards.

Over the years, Oscar Vizcarra’s vineyard and family farm has become a thriving business. Vizcarra brought his insight and experience to the table as a member of USDA’s Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Industry Committee. Photo courtesy Vizcarra Vineyards.

Growing up on a family farm in New Mexico, I experienced the joys of producing your own food and sharing it with others. For many, the opportunity to own a farm or work in the agriculture industry is a dream come true, one that they can achieve if given the right opportunity.

In my position here at USDA, I take great pride in the work we do to help producers like Oscar Vizcarra—who now has almost 5,000 people come to apple picking and other events at his farm on a regular basis—realize their dreams.  One of the ways that we will create similar opportunities for the entire agriculture industry is by passing common sense immigration reform, and addressing critical labor issues that are needed to help the industry continue to thrive. Read more »