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USDA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Enter into Agreement to Improve Drought Weather Forecasting

President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa, on Monday, August 13, 2012 to view the drought stricken crops. The federal government has already taken some steps to ease farmers whose crops are growing poorly this summer, and the administration plans to spend close to $200 million on livestock, officials announced earlier in the day. The Department of Defense is encouraging vendors to buy meat to ease the crisis. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.

President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa, on Monday, August 13, 2012 to view the drought stricken crops. The federal government has already taken some steps to ease farmers whose crops are growing poorly this summer, and the administration plans to spend close to $200 million on livestock, officials announced earlier in the day. The Department of Defense is encouraging vendors to buy meat to ease the crisis. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.

USDA and other federal agencies continue to work to address the long term effects of last summer’s historic drought.

In the wake of a series of regional drought conferences with farmers, ranchers, business owners and other stakeholders, USDA is entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Commerce, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to improve sharing of data and expertise, monitoring networks, and drought forecasting efforts.  The MOU is a direct outcome of the regional conferences. Read more »

What’s Next for Agriculture? Secretary Vilsack Wants to Hear from You!

Ask Secretary Vilsack questions about emerging opportunities in agriculture using the hashtag #AskUSDA

Ask Secretary Vilsack questions about emerging opportunities in agriculture using the hashtag #AskUSDA

Last week we asked why young Americans should care about the Farm Bill by inviting you to use social media to help tell the story about what is at stake in your lives and communities. The response has been overwhelming! We read tweets from aspiring young scientists about the importance of the Farm Bill to their career. We received messages from business owners looking for ways to keep their family farms in the family for future generations. In fact, we were so struck by your feedback online, we thought that the best person to answer your questions and address your concerns would be Secretary Vilsack himself! Read more »

Rescue Dogs Sniff for Salamanders to Save Rare Species and Help People

Meet Frehley, a Border Collie rescued from the Seattle Animal Shelter who climbed the Jemez Mountains, clambering over rocks to track rare salamanders. Photo credit: Center for Conservation Biology.

Meet Frehley, a Border Collie rescued from the Seattle Animal Shelter who climbed the Jemez Mountains, clambering over rocks to track rare salamanders. Photo credit: Center for Conservation Biology.

Shelter dogs that are often rejected are getting a new lease on life. Plus they’re helping wildlife and people!  These conservation canines climbed the Jemez Mountains, clambering over rocks, running from smell to smell, to track where rare Jemez salamanders, a species found nowhere else in the world, are living in New Mexico. Read more »

Agriculture is Smart for Smart Growth

USDA Rural Development’s Business and Loan Guarantee Program supported new construction for an expanded Brattleboro Food Coop in Brattleboro, Vermont. The original plan for two stories was expanded to four thanks to an innovative partnership with the Windsor Housing Trust to develop mixed-income apartments.

USDA Rural Development’s Business and Loan Guarantee Program supported new construction for an expanded Brattleboro Food Coop in Brattleboro, Vermont. The original plan for two stories was expanded to four thanks to an innovative partnership with the Windsor Housing Trust to develop mixed-income apartments.

“Smart Growth” is a term we hear more and more often.  It is the idea that as communities plan for the future, they consider the highest and best use of every resource – land, infrastructure, organizations and people.    From housing to transportation to energy to food; community developers and planners are asking how Smart Growth principles can be applied to ensure a sustainable and dynamic future for their communities and their residents. Read more »

Forest Service International Programs lauded by Secretary of State

During the recent annual Comprehensive Partnership meeting in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Indonesian Foreign Minister Natalegawa applauded recent initiatives supported by the U.S. Forest Service’s International Programs, including forest governance, environmental impact assessment, climate change mitigation, and the sustainable management of forests.

International Programs draws on the expertise of the entire agency to promote sustainable forest management overseas and to bring important technologies and innovations back to the U.S.  Through International Programs, the Forest Service advocates for U.S. interests abroad by engaging with numerous governmental and non-governmental partners to share best practices on a range of conservation issues.

The U.S. Comprehensive Partnership is a long-term commitment between the United States and Indonesia to broaden, deepen and elevate bilateral relations. Officials from both countries consult regularly on issues such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, climate change and the spread of communicable diseases. Read more »

U.S. Food Shopping Out of Sync with Nutritional Advice

A new report by the Economic Research Service reveals  that between 1998 and 2006, U.S. households spent an average of just 0.5 percent of their food budgets on vegetables, excluding  potatoes, compared with the USDA-recommended  7 percent. (Photo: Thinkstock)

A new report by the Economic Research Service reveals that between 1998 and 2006, U.S. households spent an average of just 0.5 percent of their food budgets on vegetables, excluding potatoes, compared with the USDA-recommended 7 percent. (Photo: Thinkstock)

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.

Many of our diets aren’t what they should be. Americans eat fewer fruits and vegetables than Federal nutrition guidance recommends, and we over-consume fats, added sugars, and refined grains. Health professionals warn us that the less-healthful food choices are showing up on our waistlines and in our health, contributing to increasing cases of overweight and obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Knowing how far we stray from good dietary patterns, and whether the diets of certain segments of the population are more misaligned, can help in designing more effective programs and consumer education. Read more »