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ERS Showcases the Best of Its Popular “Charts of Note” Series

The top “Editors’ Pick” among ERS' Charts of Note

This is the top “Editors’ Pick” among the Charts of Note – an USDA Economic Research Service series. ERS editors selected the 10 best from 244 graphs and maps posted in 2016. Charts are provided daily on the web–and via email by free subscription.

Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but they can also help put numbers into a clearer perspective.

That‘s why USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) each day presents a graph or map with brief accompanying text that tells a visual mini-story about food, farming or rural America. Delivered to PCs, smartphones and tablets via email as well as being posted on our website, these “Charts of Note” provide daily snapshots of ERS research and findings. They cover facts and data that are timely, informative and sometimes surprising. Read more »

Resolve to Build Healthy Soils on Rented Land

Five questions.

Five questions.

Do you rent out your land for agriculture? If you do, don’t forget about your farm when you’re making your New Year’s resolutions. Here are five questions from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that you need to ask the folks who rent your land: Do you build organic matter in the soil? Do you test the soil at least once every four years? Do you use no-till practices? Do you use cover crops? What can we do together to improve soil health on your land?

If you’re lucky, you have a renter like John Z. Beiler who rented acres of prime farmland in Port Royal, Pennsylvania. At the landowner’s encouragement John worked with NRCS to address gully erosion, test the farm’s soils, control noxious weeds and comply with highly erodible land and conservation plan requirements. Read more »

Welcome to the MyPlate New Year’s Challenge

The 5-week MyPlate New Year’s Challenge lets you earn points for making small changes that add up to big wins.  Find your #MyPlateMyWins at ChooseMyPlate.gov/MyWins.

The 5-week MyPlate New Year’s Challenge lets you earn points for making small changes that add up to big wins. Find your #MyPlateMyWins at ChooseMyPlate.gov/MyWins.

The MyPlate Team welcomes you to join us for a fun and competitive way to start the New Year—join our MyPlate New Year’s Challenge! The MyPlate Team is hosting a 5-week challenge, featuring a new food group each week along with physical activity. Join our New Year’s Challenge now by visiting our MyPlate New Year’s Challenge page or by searching for “MYPLATE” on SuperTracker’s Join Group page. It’s never too late to join, so make sure to share this opportunity with your friends, family, and coworkers!

The first food group featured in the Challenge is the Dairy Food Group. Dairy foods include all fluid milk products as well as foods made from milk that retain their calcium content, like cheese and yogurt. Calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage) is also part of the Dairy Group. Calcium is a mineral that helps us to build bones and teeth, and maintain bone mass. Choosing low-fat or fat-free dairy options helps lower your intake of saturated fat.  Read more »

Bringing Back Diversity in Eastern Forests for Landowners, Wildlife

Cerulean warblers spend part of the year in the Appalachian Mountains of North America as well as the Andes Mountains of South America. Photo by DJ McNeil.

Cerulean warblers spend part of the year in the Appalachian Mountains of North America as well as the Andes Mountains of South America. Photo by DJ McNeil.

What do biologists look for in a healthy forest? A diversity in the ages and composition of trees and occasional breaks in canopy to allow sunlight to reach understory plants. Healthy forests, just like healthy human populations, are sustained by a diversity of ages. Each group has a role to play in maintaining the whole community over the long term.

But healthy, diverse forests are on the decline across the eastern United States. A lack of natural and human-induced disturbances because of fire suppression and certain timber harvest methods have led the forested landscape to become largely homogenous. Read more »

Canoemobile inspires future conservation leaders!

As the traveling Forest Service representative, Teresa Butel helped facilitate the migration station by talking to students about different native bird species (Photo Credit: Julia Schwitzer, Wilderness Inquiry).

As the traveling Forest Service representative, Teresa Butel helped facilitate the migration station by talking to students about different native bird species (Photo Credit: Julia Schwitzer, Wilderness Inquiry).

A young girl looks fearfully at the large wooden canoe bobbing on the water. She steps into the canoe and it moves. She yelps, and is given a reassuring smile by her boat captain. She gets settled holding her paddle tightly, convinced with every movement that the canoe will capsize.

The canoe takes off as everyone starts to paddle in sync in order to glide across the water. She begins to relax and enjoy herself, soaking up the sun, blue sky and fresh air. Before she knows it, the canoe is coming to dock, and she’s imagining her next adventure on the water. Read more »

MyPlate, MyWins: Find Your Real Solutions for a Healthy New Year

MyPlate, MyWins Resolutions infographic

Turn your resolutions into real solutions with MyPlate, MyWins. (Click to enlarge)

Every January, Americans are bombarded with information about New Year’s resolutions. While many of us set our hopes high on January 1st, our commitment to our lofty resolutions tends to dwindle over time.  In fact, by June, less than half of us are still committed to accomplishing our New Year’s resolutions! One reason for this waning interest is that our resolutions often are unrealistic, incorporating extreme goals and expecting immediate perfection. We sabotage ourselves with these strategies. Instead, starting with small steps and celebrating milestones along the way are shown to be more helpful strategies in keeping resolutions. As you begin thinking about your resolutions for 2017, I encourage you to start with MyPlate, MyWins.

Let MyPlate, My Wins be a resource to help you turn your resolutions into real solutions for a healthy new year.

Real solutions are small, practical changes that add up to a healthier lifestyle over time. Real solutions do not have an end date; they are changes that can be incorporated into Americans’ lifestyles to help maintain a healthy eating style long term. USDA’s MyPlate, MyWins meets Americans where they are and helps to build healthier eating habits from there, rather than setting unrealistic goals at the start. MyPlate, My Wins allows Americans to personalize their goals and eating habits to fit their needs. Read more »