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 »
Cross-posted from the White House blog:
Pollinators are critical to the Nation’s economy, food security, and environmental health. Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year, and helps ensure that our diets include ample fruits, nuts, and vegetables. This tremendously valuable service is provided to society by honey bees, native bees and other insect pollinators, birds, and bats.
But pollinators are struggling. Last year, beekeepers reported losing about 40% of honey bee colonies, threatening the viability of their livelihoods and the essential pollination services their bees provide to agriculture. Monarch butterflies, too, are in jeopardy. The number of overwintering Monarchs in Mexico’s forests has declined by 90% or more over the past two decades, placing the iconic annual North American Monarch migration at risk. Read more »
Jo Santiago, a U.S. Forest Service Wildlife Biologist who educates the public on birds through live demonstrations, shows off a Red-tailed Hawk during the “Wings Across America” event. (Photo by Sean Kelley)
When it comes to the U.S. Forest Service, it’s not always about trees.
Sometimes it’s all about the birds, the dragonflies and the butterflies. Oh, and the bats. At least, that’s what it was all about during a ceremony last month recognizing some great contributions from U.S. Forest Service and partner organizations to the Wings Across the Americas program in the past year.
In a festive event held in Omaha, Nebraska, as part of the 80th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, U.S. Forest Service employees and agency partners received shout-outs for outstanding efforts supporting migratory species across the nation and beyond. Read more »
Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 saw the United States once again make significant gains in the international trade as USDA expanded opportunities for American producers overseas. In FY14 American farmers and ranchers exported a record $152.5 billion of food and agricultural goods to consumers worldwide, an $11.6 billion increase over FY13’s figures.
USDA plays a key role in fostering American agricultural exports by opening new markets for our producers and ensuring their products meet foreign requirements for import. As a result of these efforts, U.S. agricultural exports now drive overall U.S. economic growth by supporting nearly 1 million American jobs on and off the farm. These trade efforts also contribute to a strong rural economy, which is critical to the overall economic health of the United States. Read more »
Meat at a grocery store in Fairfax, Virginia. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
When trading commodities on the market, it is critical that buyers and sellers across the supply chain speak the same trade language. For meat products, large volume buyers – ranging from the federal government to schools, restaurants and hotels – reference the U.S. Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications (IMPS) when making their purchases.
For the first time, the IMPS and poultry and turkey trade descriptions, which are maintained by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), have been translated into Spanish. These documents are part of a continued effort to expand the use of meat specifications used in the United States, Canada and Mexico for trade. You can also find French translations of these documents through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Read more »
The beautiful poinsettia stands as a decoration on its own. NRCS photo by Analia Bertucci.
The poinsettia – academic types may call it by its binomial name, and biologists might refer to its species. But how many of us are guilty of calling it that red flower with the pointy leaves used to decorate during the holidays?
In the world of holiday shrubbery, the poinsettia has always taken a backseat to the Christmas tree. With its lights and ornaments, the tree has become the icon of the holiday in contrast to the poinsettia, which is usually placed in a nearby corner. Read more »