A mother and son shop for veggies and flowers—both specialty crops—at a local farmers market. Over half the foods we eat are considered specialty crops. Support for this vital sector of agriculture relies on the stability provided through a comprehensive Farm Bill. Photo by Melinda Shelton.
“Specialty crops”—the label may sound like exotic foods or something reserved for a special occasion, but this area of agriculture represents more than half the foods we eat on a daily basis. Defined as fruits and veggies, tree nuts, herbs, dried fruit, decorative plants and flowers, these crops are not only a key component of a healthy diet—they are also key to sustaining U.S. farms and agriculture. Read more »
Natural resource conservation is paramount to the ongoing strength of our nation. Healthy soil contributes to agricultural productivity. Healthy forests clean our water and air. Vibrant waterways are critical for our health, for transportation and for trade. Investments into conservation spur job growth and community development, particularly in rural areas.
This is an uncertain time for USDA conservation activities. Congress has not yet passed a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that would continue to invest in conservation efforts, while providing rural America with certainty regarding many other important programs.
As we continue urging Congress to provide a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, USDA this week took several new steps to strengthen conservation across the country. Read more »
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Bioenergy Memorandum of Understanding is signed by wood energy partners (left - right) Biomass Thermal Energy Council, Executive Director Joseph Seymour; Alliance for Green Heat, President John Ackerly; USDA Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden; Pellet Fuels Institute Executive, Director Jennifer Hedrick; Biomass Power Association, President and CEO Bob Cleaves, at the USDA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2013. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
Earlier this week, USDA, U.S. Forest Service and partners took a major step to improve forest management, create rural jobs, prevent wildfires, and expand promising renewable energy opportunities.
Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden joined leaders from the Alliance for Green Heat, the Biomass Power Association, the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, and the Pellet Fuels Institute here in Washington for the announcement of a new partnership agreement. Acting as master of ceremonies for the signing event was Acting USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Doug O’Brien. Through the Rural Energy for America program and other programs, Rural Development has been a leader in promoting deployment of wood-to-energy projects. Read more »
Troy Joshua (left) visited Matty Matarazzo’s (right) farm. Matarazzo owns and operates the Four Sisters Winery in Belvidere, N.J.
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.
2013 is the International Year of Statistics. As part of this global event, every month this year USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will profile careers of individuals who are making significant contributions to improve agricultural statistics in the United States.
Growing up in the rural community of St. James, Louisiana, I always had a passion for agriculture. In 1992, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Business from Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and earned a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Washington State University two years later.
For my master’s thesis, I created an economic model analyzing the profitability of the Washington state asparagus industry. To get the data for my thesis, I created and mailed questionnaires, editing and analyzing all of the responses. This experience sparked my interest in the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), and I joined the agency’s California Field Office in 1994. Read more »
Dave and Bethany trying to absorb the magnitude of a giant Sequoia.
For me, Take your Daughters and Sons to Work Day has a different meaning as an employee of the U.S. Forest Service. With a passion for our nation’s natural resources and the great outdoors, I want Bethany Atkins, my daughter, to have the opportunity to explore America’s treasured public lands more often than visiting me at work one day a year. So we embarked on a summer family journey to explore some nearby national forests and parks. I am proud to share part of her journal from this experience and I encourage others to find a national forest or grassland near you to explore.
The grey winters of Portland, Ore., often prompt me to look simultaneously forward and backward. I look forward to what adventures I might plan for the lengthy days of the summer. I will always look back on recent trip to visit the oldest, the biggest and the tallest trees on earth; a trip my pun-friendly family quickly dubbed “The Tree-fecta.” Read more »
A smokejumper exits a plane. (US Forest Service photo)
This blog is part of a series from the U.S. Forest Service on its wildland firefighting program to increase awareness about when and how the agency suppresses fires, to provide insights into the lives of those fighting fires, and to explain some of the cutting-edge research underway on fire behavior. Check back to the USDA Blog during the 2013 wildfire season for new information. Additional resources are available at www.fs.fed.us/wildlandfire/.
Imagine jumping from a plane into a fire, with enough provisions to last for several days. That’s what highly trained Forest Service smokejumpers do to provide quick initial attack on wildland fires.
The attack is a well-choreographed scenario. Aircraft can hold anywhere from eight to 16 jumpers, a ‘spotter’ who stays with the plane, the pilot and provisions to make the jumpers self-sufficient for 72 hours. The spotter is responsible for the safe release of the jumpers. Once the jumpers have landed, the aircraft will circle around and drop their cargo by parachute from just above treetop height. The spotter also is responsible for communicating essential information about the wind, fire activity and the terrain to the jumpers, the pilot and to dispatch centers. Read more »