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Posts tagged: AMS

Cover Crops: Agriculture’s Hero

Testing can provide the vital information needed when deciding what cover crop seed to purchase. Pictured here is AMS Botanist Elizabeth Tatum identifying a weed seed. (AMS photo)

Testing can provide the vital information needed when deciding what cover crop seed to purchase. Pictured here is AMS Botanist Elizabeth Tatum identifying a weed seed. (AMS photo)

Cover crops are the real heroes in the world of agriculture. Their job starts after a field is harvested and ends just before the next season’s crop is planted. Expectations for cover crops are high because if they don’t produce, the next crop may suffer.

After crops are harvested each year, planting fields are left bare. Runoff from rainwater, wind, and other forms of erosion devastate planting fields by stripping essential nutrients from the soil – nutrients needed for the next growing season. In addition to the loss of vital nutrients, the exposed fields are prime real estate for noxious-weed seeds intent on stealing what is left of the field’s nutrients. Replacing the lost nutrients and removing the weedy invaders costs millions of dollars each year for farmers. Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Dr. Jewel Hairston

Dr. Jewel Hairston is Dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University (VSU). As Dean, she leads in developing the strategic vision and plan for the college and develops and fosters partnership with other universities, as well as local, state and federal agencies and organizations across Virginia to offer competitive educational programs to students and diverse stakeholders.

Dr. Jewel Hairston is Dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University (VSU). As Dean, she leads in developing the strategic vision and plan for the college and develops and fosters partnership with other universities, as well as local, state and federal agencies and organizations across Virginia to offer competitive educational programs to students and diverse stakeholders.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are taking a moment to talk with prominent women in agriculture about their lives, their ideas about leadership, and how their day gets off to a good start.

Dr. Jewel Hairston is currently the Dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University. As Dean, she leads in developing the strategic vision and plan for the college and develops and fosters partnership with other universities, as well as local, state and federal agencies and organizations across the state of Virginia to offer competitive educational programs to students and diverse stakeholders. Read more »

Taking a Bite out of the Local Apple in the Windy City

The Chicago Public Schools System has incorporated locally-grown produce into school menus, providing students with fresh, healthy food. (Administrator Anne Alonzo, 4th from right) USDA Photo Courtesy of Peter Wood.

The Chicago Public Schools System has incorporated locally-grown produce into school menus, providing students with fresh, healthy food. (Administrator Anne Alonzo, 4th from right) USDA Photo Courtesy of Peter Wood.

March is National Nutrition Month, and local food plays an important role in providing Americans with fresh, healthy fuel for their bodies. From farmers to financiers to schools and hospitals, there is a lot of passion for sharing good food by supporting strong local and regional food systems. I experienced this firsthand during my trip to Chicago, Ill., where I spoke at last week’s Good Food Festival & Conference.

The trip came on the heels of a recent announcement that USDA is making $97 million available to expand access to healthy food and support rural economies.  Grants from my agency — the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – make up over $90 million of that funding.  AMS was a sponsor and exhibitor at the trade show, where we shared information with stakeholders about the many resources we have to support local and regional food systems. Through our Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (comprised of the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program), AMS supports producers, local food entrepreneurs, and rural and urban communities across the country. Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Lindsey Lusher Shute

Lindsey and Ben Shute and their two daughters on the family’s 70 acre vegetable farm. Photo Credit: Joshua Simpson Photography.

Lindsey and Ben Shute and their two daughters on the family’s 70 acre vegetable farm. Photo Credit: Joshua Simpson Photography.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting a different leading woman in agriculture each week.  This week, we profile Lindsey Lusher Shute, founder and Executive Director of the National Young Farmers Coalition.

Lindsey is dedicated to advocating for beginning farmers and helping them overcome hurdles as they start their own farm businesses. In addition to leading the National Young Farmers Coalition, Lindsey and her husband, Ben, are raising two daughters while managing Hearty Roots Community Farm in New York’s Hudson Valley. Lindsey was also selected as a White House Champion of Change and participated in the White House women’s dialogue this past fall.

Lindsey talked about how she juggles her kids, her reading list and her farm; and how she sees women leading the charge among the upcoming generation of farmers. Read more »

Strengthening Produce Businesses, One Program at a Time

The packinghouse at West Coast Tomato LLC packinghouse in Palmetto, Fla. is nearly completely automated. Almost all of the tomatoes are sized and sorted mechanically. Thanks to meeting USDA audit requirements, the high-volume packer can confidently sell its tomatoes to restaurants, grocery stores, and re-packing companies. USDA Photo by Hakim Fobia.

The packinghouse at West Coast Tomato LLC packinghouse in Palmetto, Fla. is nearly completely automated. Almost all of the tomatoes are sized and sorted mechanically. Thanks to meeting USDA audit requirements, the high-volume packer can confidently sell its tomatoes to restaurants, grocery stores, and re-packing companies. USDA Photo by Hakim Fobia.

Successful businesses all seem to have a common bond – a commitment to quality, consistency, and integrity. During a recent trip with my colleagues, I saw firsthand the many ways that companies are turning to my agency – the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – to provide these factors to pave their path to success.

Our first stop was the packinghouse at West Coast Tomato LLC in Palmetto, Fla. Thanks to meeting USDA audit requirements, the high-volume packer can confidently sell its tomatoes to restaurants, grocery stores, and re-packing companies. The fascinating thing about West Coast Tomato LLC is that the facility is nearly completely automated. Almost all of the tomatoes are sized and sorted mechanically. “Our use of technology has significantly decreased our re-packing,” says plant director John Darling. “As a result, we’re better equipped to meet buyer requirements.” Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Minnie Lou Bradley

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting a different leading woman in agriculture each week. This week is cattlewoman Minnie Lou Bradley.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting a different leading woman in agriculture each week. This week is cattlewoman Minnie Lou Bradley.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting a different leading woman in agriculture each week. Last week, we kicked off the series with Agriculture Marketing Service Administrator Anne Alonzo. This week, we caught up with cattlewoman Minnie Lou Bradley.

Minnie Lou Bradley, now a sprightly 83, always had a passion for agriculture. Growing up in southwestern Oklahoma, Minnie was the first woman to major in animal husbandry from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater in 1949.  In 1955, Minnie Lou Bradley moved to the Texas Panhandle to found Bradley 3 Ranch with her husband Billy. For decades, Minnie’s vision has catapulted Bradley 3 Ranch into a leader and award-winning ranch for land management and genetic beef breeding. Minnie herself has lassoed a herd of accolades, including being the first female President of the American Angus Association, an inductee into the Saddle and Sirloin Portrait Gallery and has received recognition as one of the nation’s top 50 U.S. Beef Industry Leaders by BEEF magazine. Read more »