Farmers have long looked to the clouds for signs of relief, but a new competition launched by USDA and Microsoft will tap the Internet cloud to help farmers and our food systems to adapt to climate change. The “Innovation Challenge” is asking software developers to create applications that will use more than 100 years of USDA data to explore how our food system can achieve better food resiliency.
Climate change will likely affect every aspect of the food system—whether it’s the ability to grow food, the reliability of food transportation and food safety efforts, or the dynamics of international trade in agricultural goods. Even so, we don’t yet fully know how to anticipate and mitigate any negative changes. Read more »
This report is pioneering the way beef is marketed by providing local price information for farmers, increasing transparency in the marketplace, and enabling institutions to properly assess the value of a small or mid-sized farm, which sells its commodities locally. Pictured here is Market News reporter Alex Wright with cattle in Vermont.
There’s no doubt about it – gears are turning in the world of local food production. From rural communities to large food retailers, local and regional food is a growing business across the country. In the USDA’s Market News division, developing market reports to keep up with the growing need for local food data is a priority for us.
Following Secretary Tom Vilsack’s lead to ramp up local and regional food efforts, USDA Market News – part of the Agricultural Marketing Service – issues a local beef report for the state of Vermont each month. Two Market News reporters from Pennsylvania ventured to the Green Mountain State to meet with existing customers and recruit new ones. Trekking all throughout the state, they visited a total of 10 farms, talked to numerous people about grass-fed beef, and learned about how Market News can better serve this sector of the industry. Read more »
At the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, leaders across the globe, in the public, non-governmental, and private sectors, committed to sharing and using data and to investing in the capacity to collect and analyze this data for sustainable development. Open data, particularly open data relevant to agriculture and nutrition, is a powerful tool for long-term sustainable development, improving the economic opportunities for farmers and contributing to the health of all consumers. Making open data work for agriculture and nutrition requires a shared agenda to increase the supply, quality, and interoperability of data, alongside action to build capacity for the use of data by all stakeholders.
The United States made several pledges at FfD including increasing support for global efforts to make agricultural and nutritionally relevant data available, accessible, and usable for unrestricted use worldwide. As a cornerstone of this support, the United States will expand and deepen its commitment to the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative. This commitment will encourage collaboration and cooperation among existing agriculture and open data activities, without duplication, and will bring together stakeholders to solve long-standing global problems with a priority toward improving global food security. Specifically, the United States will provide $4 million in support of the GODAN Secretariat, matching the contribution provided by the United Kingdom. Read more »
As local and regional food systems continue to expand, so does the need for reliable market data. USDA Market News now captures data on over 85 farmers markets in the U.S. Pictured here is the Des Moines Farmers Market, which draws an average of 20,000 visitors a weekend. Photo courtesy of Des Moines, Iowa Farmers Market.
Farmers markets are an important part of local and regional food systems. Nationwide, 150,000 farmers and ranchers are selling their products directly to consumers to meet the growing demand for local food. Many sell their products at farmers markets, which can be a catalyst for future growth.
According to USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, there are over 8,400 farmers markets across the country serving as community gathering places where America’s food producers are building successful businesses and bringing fresh, local food to their communities. As local and regional food systems continue to expand, so does the need for reliable market data. Read more »
SBIR grant recipients Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger with SBIR program coordinator Charles Cleland
For hundreds of years, agriculture has fostered a community of “makers” – people who have engineered the tools that ensure a steady, abundant supply of food and fiber under a wide variety of conditions. From the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, Mason jars in 1858, the gasoline tractor in 1892, to the current use of “big data” and genetic tools, the agriculture industry has made huge leaps and bounds in technology and engineering.
On June 12th and 13th, USDA joined other Federal agencies and a wide variety of public and private-sector organizations to celebrate the culture of “making” at the first-ever National Maker Faire. Held on the University of District Columbia campus in Washington, D.C., the National Maker Faire is part of a broad network of Maker Faires across the country that celebrate the spirit of curiosity, invention, and do-it-yourself determination. Read more »
Want to make better use of forest, park and trail datasets? Try a hackathon. A hackthon is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development and hardware development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects. Hackathons typically last between a day and a week. Some hackathons are intended simply for educational or social purposes, although in many cases the goal is to create usable software. This popular forum for collaborative innovation has become an important method for developing modern solutions for government interactions. This particular hackathon occurred on April 11-12 in Washington, D.C., and involved the USDA and the Department of Interior (DOI) for the myAmerica Developers Summit. The summit is an initiative supporting the National Travel and Tourism Strategy by improving access to information about federal lands and waters so it’s easier for people to discover and experience America’s natural and national treasures. Read more »