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Posts tagged: innovation

Migrating Monarchs

Children enjoying a Monarch Butterfly during a community event in Chicago

Children enjoy a Monarch Butterfly during a community event in Chicago. (Photo by Alexander Rivera for El Valor)

Last month, beautiful monarch butterflies floated across Chicago’s skyline as a part of their annual migration. During this year’s journey, they found more milkweed plants in several places along their paths because of an innovative program that connects urban communities with nature.

Area school kids, their families and teachers involved in an innovative project were thrilled: they had planted milkweeds in schoolyards and home gardens to attract more monarchs to the city … and it worked.  Many of the families are originally from Michoacan, Mexico, where the butterflies spend the winter. Read more »

Innovations in Reducing Food Loss and Waste at the Global Sustainability Summit

USDA encourages food waste entrepreneurs to exhibit at the Food Waste Innovation Zone during the Global Sustainability Summit in Denver, Colorado.  Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics will help kick off the Global Sustainability Summit in Denver, Colorado.  Organized by the Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Summit runs from August 19-21, 2015. 

The Summit will put the spotlight on food waste innovators, and USDA invites you to come showcase your innovation and meet fellow innovators, food-waste reduction advocates and senior-level executives from the nation’s leading food retailers and manufacturers.  You will also have a chance to compete in the Global Sustainability Summit Food Waste Start-Up Challenge event. Read more »

Second Morrill Act Redux: America’s 1890s Land Grant Universities Academic Excellence

1890s 125th logo

USDA joins everyone celebrating 125 years of the Second Morrill Act, which has provided educational opportunities for all.

Booker T. Washington.  George Washington Carver.  Educators par excellence.  Pioneers in food and agricultural scientific research. Dedicated their lives to helping “lift the veil of ignorance” by bringing knowledge to African-Americans and others with limited resources.

For 125 years, since passage of the Second Morrill Act on Aug. 30, 1890, which created a “broader education for the American people in the arts of peace, and especially in agriculture and mechanics arts,” the legacy of innovations has been sustained. Read more »

Rural Housing Service: Stewards of the American Dream and Leading the Way to a Modern USDA with Paperless Processing

Guaranteed Home Loan Program infographic

New home loan processing is saving customer and staff time, taxpayer money and lots of paper. (Click to enlarge)

This has been the year of innovation at USDA Rural Housing Service. We are working smarter, faster, more efficient and environmentally conscious than ever before.  After years of brainstorming, planning, reengineering, testing, and training, RHS has realized its vision: the Section 502 Guaranteed Single Family Home Loan Program now operates paperless, and we’re saving more than we ever imagined possible.

USDA’s Rural Development State field offices now transact business with private lenders via Web-based uploads and electronic signatures.  This means RHS and our private partners are no longer printing and sending hundreds of pages of paper back-and-forth every time a loan guarantee is used to help a rural American family buy their home. Read more »

USDA Continues to Modernize International Food Safety Program

Each year, America imports over 3.5 billion pounds of meat, poultry, and egg products. As our food supply becomes increasingly globalized, it is important to continually strengthen our regulatory programs to ensure that the food on your family’s table is safe. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the agency that verifies these products are safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged, whether they are produced in the U.S. or abroad.

Over time, we have taken a number of steps to ensure that domestic and international facilities are delivering only the safest possible product to store shelves. In the past year, FSIS created the Office of International Coordination (OIC) as part of our effort to strengthen our agency’s focus on international issues. This is the office I oversee. This week, to facilitate determinations of initial and ongoing equivalence, we launched our improved and web-based Self-Reporting Tool (SRT) to allow foreign countries to submit their equivalence responses and documentation through an efficient and secure online portal.  This new tool saves time previously spent sifting through paperwork and allows us to focus our efforts on upholding FSIS’ strong food safety standards. This consolidated web-based version is yet another advance made possible by the Public Health Information System (PHIS) that helps us collect, consolidate, and analyze equivalence and import data more efficiently. Read more »

One Year Later – USDA in the Brave New World of Open Data

It’s hard to believe that it has been a year since USDA embarked on its push to make its data available to you.  As you know, open data is free, public data that can be used to: launch commercial and nonprofit ventures; conduct research; make data-driven decisions; and help solve complex problems. It is our hope that USDA data fosters innovation, economic growth and improves American lives. While USDA continues to collect and make available USDA datasets to the public, we also are engaging stakeholders so that we can use that feedback to improve future data submissions.

One year later, USDA has published over 800 data sets on usda.gov/data and data.gov.  Considering the vast mission of the Department, we are proud of this accomplishment, specifically: Read more »