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Solving the Fresh Produce Equation

The webinar series is an off-shoot of an ongoing AMS produce webinar series and the popular Produce Safety University (PSU), which helps school foodservice personnel identify and manage food safety risks associated with handling fresh produce. USDA photo courtesy of Lance Cheung.

The webinar series is an off-shoot of an ongoing AMS produce webinar series and the popular Produce Safety University (PSU), which helps school foodservice personnel identify and manage food safety risks associated with handling fresh produce. USDA photo courtesy of Lance Cheung.

Whether it’s solving a math problem or figuring out how to buy quality fresh apples, having the right tools and training will lead you to a positive solution. Managing fresh and fresh-cut produce purchases can seem like a complicated math problem for many schools, food banks and other large volume institutions. To help them figure out the right formula and address all of the variables, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) designed a webinar series to help these establishments successfully buy, receive and handle fresh and fresh-cut produce.

The webinar series is an off-shoot of an ongoing AMS produce webinar series and the popular Produce Safety University (PSU), which helps school foodservice personnel identify and manage food safety risks associated with handling fresh produce. While PSU was delivered using interactive, hands-on classes, the webinar series’ online format allows more people to expand their knowledge of all things produce. As a result, more and more large volume institutions will be able to satisfy their demand for fresh produce. Read more »

USDA and DHS Scientists Receive Top DHS Award for Animal Disease Research

Pictured left to right: First row—DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, Lavanya S. Ratnam (OCG, Washington DC), Teresa de los Santos and Luis Rodriguez (ARS PIADC), Robert M. Webb (OCG Washington DC), Michelle Colby (DHS, Washington DC) and  DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Second row—Lawrence Barrett, John Nielan, Christopher Schutta, Jeffrey Babcock and Michael Santillo (DHS PIADC). Photo by:  Barry Bahler/DHS

Pictured left to right: First row—DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, Lavanya S. Ratnam (OCG, Washington DC), Teresa de los Santos and Luis Rodriguez (ARS PIADC), Robert M. Webb (OCG Washington DC), Michelle Colby (DHS, Washington DC) and DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Second row—Lawrence Barrett, John Nielan, Christopher Schutta, Jeffrey Babcock and Michael Santillo (DHS PIADC). Photo by: Barry Bahler/DHS

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.

When people think about keeping our homeland safe, they don’t usually think about animal diseases that threaten our nation’s economy and food supply, but USDA scientists do. Years of dedicated research on foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is paying off.

A team of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) collaborators received the DHS Secretary’s Exceptional Service Gold Medal Award at a recent ceremony in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes outstanding leadership or service distinguished by achievements of national or international significance that improves our homeland security. The team successfully developed and licensed the world’s first molecular FMD vaccine for cattle—the most significant scientific accomplishment in FMD vaccine development in the past 50 years and the first FMD vaccine that can be manufactured in the United States. Read more »

Vanished Rabbit Reappears on Central California’s Dos Rios Ranch

The riparian brush rabbit is state and federally endangered, with all known populations in the northern San Joaquin Valley facing significant threat of extinction. Declines of brush rabbits have largely been attributed to loss of habitat. Photo courtesy USFWS Pacific Southwest Region.

The riparian brush rabbit is state and federally endangered, with all known populations in the northern San Joaquin Valley facing significant threat of extinction. Declines of brush rabbits have largely been attributed to loss of habitat. Photo courtesy USFWS Pacific Southwest Region.

Some exciting news recently came from a large wetlands restoration project now underway in Central California. River Partners, a nonprofit conservation organization, documented the first occurrence of a state and federally endangered rabbit on its habitat preserve at Dos Rios Ranch, a key piece of riverfront habitat located at the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers in Stanislaus County.

Thanks to a generous loan of wildlife cameras from a professor at the University of California, Davis, River Partners’ summer interns captured images of riparian brush rabbits at Dos Rios Ranch in July in remnant riparian habitat along the Tuolumne River. Riparian brush rabbits are a critically endangered subspecies of rabbit that was thought to be extinct following catastrophic flooding in 1997. Read more »

Ready, Set, Lights! U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Delivered, Decorated and Ready to Shine

Workers use a crane to lift an 88-foot spruce tree harvested from the Chippewa National Forest to its final resting place on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. The scaffolding surrounding the dome is part of a multi-year restoration project to repair deficiencies. (U.S. Forest Service/Mary LaPlant)

Workers use a crane to lift an 88-foot spruce tree harvested from the Chippewa National Forest to its final resting place on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. The scaffolding surrounding the dome is part of a multi-year restoration project to repair deficiencies. (U.S. Forest Service/Mary LaPlant)

After a 2,700-mile, 30-stop journey from Minnesota, the 88-foot white spruce tree harvested from the Chippewa National Forest is delivered, set up in Washington, D.C., decorated by Architect of the Capitol employees and ready for the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2.

Speaker of the House John Boehner will light the tree on the Capitol’s West Front, where it will remain lit from dusk until 11 p.m. daily through Jan. 1. The tree is a gift from the American people, hence the moniker “The People’s Tree.” Hundreds of people attend the lighting ceremony. Read more »

The Other Holiday Shopping: Grocery Shopping

During the holiday season, it seems that all we do is shop, shop, shop. While not paying attention when you purchase holiday gifts places your wallet at risk, not paying attention when you purchase groceries can place your health at risk.

If you don’t take certain safety steps while grocery shopping, you can risk food poisoning. Grocery shopping is where safe food handling should start, by following these recommendations you can make sure the food you bring home is safe. Read more »

From Scientist to Farmer, Today’s Agriculture Producers Come from All Walks of Life

Richard McGinley farms 950 acres fulltime in central Florida.  According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, more than half of Florida’s principal farm operators report primary occupations other than farming. NRCS photo.

Richard McGinley farms 950 acres fulltime in central Florida. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, more than half of Florida’s principal farm operators report primary occupations other than farming. NRCS photo.

In the past, full-time farmers were the norm and children of farmers followed in their parent’s footsteps. That’s not the case today. Now, data from the Census of Agriculture show more than half of Florida’s principal farm operators report primary occupations other than farming.

Richard McGinley is a good example of today’s Florida farmer. He spent his early years living the city life until his dad moved the family to Ocala, located in central Florida, to begin farming. But McGinley had other interests that took him far from farming. He established a career in the nuclear industry and even started his own consulting business. Read more »