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Science Today for Solutions Tomorrow

As USDA’s Chief Scientist I oversee a team of world class scientists, economists, statisticians, and support staff working to solve some of the biggest challenges facing us all – a changing climate, uncertain energy sources, rising childhood obesity rates, food insecurity around the globe – and making sure our solutions are safe and sustainable.

In 2010, one of my first initiatives as Chief Scientist was to ask this group of food, agricultural, and natural resource science professionals to develop an Action Plan for USDA Science.  The Action Plan provides an in depth analysis of these challenges and identifies the roles of USDA’s science agencies in addressing them. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 7/23/12

Data obtained from preliminary National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) weekly crop progress and condition tables.

Data obtained from preliminary National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) weekly crop progress and condition tables. (Click to enlarge image)

Visit for the latest information regarding USDA’s Drought Disaster response and assistance.

During the last week, much-needed rain developed across the northern and eastern Corn Belt and continued in the Southeast, stabilizing or even improving crop and pasture conditions.  In the Midwest, some of the heaviest rain (locally 2 to 4 inches) fell from southern and eastern Wisconsin into Ohio.  Substantial rain (at least 2 inches) also extended into the northern Mid-Atlantic States.  Meanwhile, a second consecutive week of widespread Southeastern showers further revived pastures and aided immature summer crops.  Weekly totals in excess of 4 inches were noted in the central Gulf Coast region and parts of the interior Southeast. Read more »

USDA Employees in Wisconsin Grill Year-Round to End Hunger

What do bratwurst and USDA have in common? The ability to mobilize community members to donate to Feds Feed Families!

On sizzling hot summer days in Madison, Wisconsin, employees of the Agricultural Research Service’s Dairy Forage Research Center fire up their grills with hot dogs, hamburgers, veggie burgers, and of course, brats (short for bratwurst, a German sausage that is especially popular in Wisconsin)  to incentivize donors to keep giving to feed hungry families.

This creative idea was sparked by Jane Marita, a plant molecular geneticist, who wanted to add some energy and excitement to the 2011 Feds Feed Families Campaign. By offering her co-workers free brats in exchange for food pantry donations, Marita noticed a marked increase in donations which resulted in a tremendous total of 2,800 pounds of food collected by the research center in 2011. Read more »

Technology Transfer to Private Sector Focus of USDA Event

On August 7, 2012, USDA-APHIS National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) experts and representatives from other Federal research laboratories in northern Colorado will host a free, 1-day technology transfer fair for individuals interested in learning more about northern Colorado’s Federal research laboratories, their expertise, and potential products, tools and techniques available for transfer to the private sector.  The event will be held from 9:00am-4:30pm MST at the Drake Centre in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Northern Colorado is home to many Federal research laboratories.  In addition to supporting their various agency missions, these labs generate business opportunities for the private sector through their basic and applied research that leads to the development of new products, tools, and techniques.  These synergistic relationships with the private sector not only improve the quality and impact of our research, but also promote growth for our nation’s economy. Read more »

USDA Rural Development and Habitat for Humanity Partner to Help a Kentucky Mom Build and Finance Her First Home

Participating in the ground breaking are (from left) Mary Shearer (Executive Director of Kentucky Habitat for Humanity); Chase Crigler (field representative for U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell); prospective homeowner Suzanna Hoskins and her three children; State Director Tom Fern; State Senator Don Blevins and Melissa Patrick (Morehead State University).

History was made in a small rural Kentucky community last week as ground was broken on a new home in Morehead. This project marks the first time that USDA Rural Development and Habitat for Humanity have collaborated to help a formerly homeless single mother take her first steps toward becoming a first-time homeowner. Read more »

USDA Community Facilities Funds Promote Student Fitness in South Dakota

The South Dakota  Bon Homme School District #04-2 Mission Statement – “To ensure that our students have the resources to succeed in a changing world.”  Hard work is continually being done with the focus placed on learning and commitment of excellence to serve the students who are our future leaders, their parents and the communities.  The District is made up of communities and rural areas of Springfield, Tabor, Tyndall, and the Bon Homme Hutterite Colony.

South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks participated in a dedication ceremony for the Fitness Center project at Bon Homme School District #04-2.  The Fitness Center will be made available to all students and staff with weight, exercise, and cardio vascular equipment.  USDA Rural Development is providing a Community Facilities grant of $33,000 to be leveraged with an applicant contribution through the Hoch Foundation of $247,000 for the project. Read more »