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The Answer to Non-irrigated, Marginal Soil in Northeast Arkansas – Giant Miscanthus

Giant miscanthus in early stages of growth.  The sterile grass plant will grow to heights of 8-12 feet.  When harvested, giant miscanthus can be compacted into pellets for a durable, safe and environmentally friendly renewable energy source.

Giant miscanthus in early stages of growth. The sterile grass plant will grow to heights of 8-12 feet. When harvested, giant miscanthus can be compacted into pellets for a durable, safe and environmentally friendly renewable energy source.

There’s a lot that a farmer can grow in northeast Arkansas.  Most producers choose rice and cotton.  Some plant soybeans, corn and sorghum; row crops, mostly, according to Charles Glover, manager, Ritter Agribusiness.

Glover works with landowners, their tenants and producers who farm 40,000 acres between Jonesboro, Ark., and Memphis, Tenn., much of it in Poinsett County. Read more »

White House Rural Council Hosts Native American Food and Agriculture Roundtable Discussion

Cross posted from the White House blog:

Yesterday, the White House Rural Council hosted a Native American Food and Agriculture Roundtable Discussion, bringing together tribal leaders and experts on Native American agricultural economic development with Administration officials from the White House Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Council on Environmental Quality, and federal agency partners including the  Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Commerce, Treasury, and the Small Business Administration.

The White House Rural Council was established by an Executive Order of President Obama in June 2011.  The Rural Council, chaired by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, is dedicated to creating jobs and fostering economic development in Rural America.  This is an all hands on deck approach – to accomplish this goal of growing the rural economy, the President appointed 14 Cabinet Members to the Council.  In August 2011, the Council hosted the White House Native American Business Leaders Roundtable, which provided officials an opportunity to hear from Native American business leaders and policy experts about ways we can work together to improve economic conditions and create jobs in tribal communities. Read more »

Eggstra! Eggstra! Learn All About Them

Click to view the full version of our Certified Egg Facts infographic.

Click to view the full version of our Certified Egg Facts infographic.

Whether you prepare them for Easter dinner or as part of a Passover Seder Plate, eggs will certainly be the rave this weekend.  Coupled with egg dyeing, decorating, or hunting, it’s likely that you will find yourself searching for eggs in the super market. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) wants to pass along some information to help make your trip to the store a success.

When strolling down the dairy aisle, you will see that the egg displays are full of several brands, each garnering various grading shields and marketing claims.  Remembering a few key points will help you make an informed and egg-celent choice: Read more »

Secretary’s Column: USDA Science for Farmers and Ranchers

Each day, the work of USDA scientists and researchers touches the lives of every American: from the farm field to the kitchen table – from the air we breathe to the energy that powers our country.

No matter where you look, USDA science is on the cutting edge, helping improve American agriculture, providing insight into our health and nutrition, and protecting our natural resources.

For over 100 years, USDA scientists and research funding have supported the farmers and ranchers who produce a safe and abundant food supply for our families. This work has helped sustain an agricultural trade surplus since the 1960s and led to the record farm income we’re enjoying today. Read more »

Domestic Energy in 140 Characters or Less

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack responds to questions, with the assistance of Office of Communications Director of Web Communications Amanda Eamich, during the first Virtual Office hours live "Twitter" session held at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, April 4, 2012. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack responds to questions, with the assistance of Office of Communications Director of Web Communications Amanda Eamich, during the first Virtual Office hours live "Twitter" session held at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, April 4, 2012. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

In the fast paced technology world there are a lot of firsts coming at us all the time. But if you had told me that I’d be present for the first ever USDA Virtual Office Hours on April 5, 2012, in our 150th year, I assure you I never would have believed you. The event allowed USDA, a department  President Lincoln referred to as the People’s Department –– to reach hundreds of thousands of people, 140 characters at a time.  What really struck me was how many insightful questions came in about energy and USDA, and, in particular, one that was asked on our Facebook page shortly before the hour long chat.

Read more »

Apply to Make a Difference: Farmers Market Promotion Program Grants Available

The Greensgrow Farms mobile food delivery system.  With the help of an FMPP grant, Greensgrow Farms has used this truck to supply residents of the Camden/Philadelphia area with fresh, healthy, affordable foods. (Photo courtesy of Greensgrow Farms)

The Greensgrow Farms mobile food delivery system. With the help of an FMPP grant, Greensgrow Farms has used this truck to supply residents of the Camden/Philadelphia area with fresh, healthy, affordable foods. (Photo courtesy of Greensgrow Farms)

Every day, thousands of local farmers and ranchers work hard to ensure that their communities have access to a diverse range of fresh, healthy affordable foods.  While nutritious food is a cornerstone of society’s physical health, a vibrant community also includes sustainable economic opportunities.  By funding projects that support these goals, USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program continues to make a difference for farmers at the local level. Read more »