How much do you know about this iconic plant that brightens lots of homes this time of year?
Happy Poinsettia Day!
Of the countless iconic holiday season images in American homes, perhaps the most popular and colorful of them started off as a humble bush from our neighbors to the south.
The poinsettia was introduced to this country in the late 1820s by Joel Poinsett, the first American ambassador to Mexico, but only started on the path to holiday season superstardom in the early 1900s. By 2013, poinsettias accounted for 23 percent of sales for flowering potted plants – to the tune of $146 million. Read more »
USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Ed Avalos speaking to Congressman Ron Barber and local stakeholders at the celebration of the opening of the contingency livestock inspection facility in Douglas, AZ.
Trade… Employee safety… U.S. Livestock Health… Every organization must work to balance its priorities, and these are just a few of the priorities that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has as part of its work at the livestock inspection facilities along the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
APHIS employees work at these facilities to inspect cattle to ensure they are free of ticks and diseases that could harm U.S. livestock. After violence prevented APHIS inspectors from traveling to several of the existing livestock inspection stations in Mexico, we recognized that we needed a contingency plan to ensure continued trade between the United States and Mexico. Read more »
Left to right: Coach John Galbraith, with students Tyler Witkowski, Kyle Weber, Emily Salkind, Caitlin Hodges, Nancy Kammerer, Bianca Peixoto, Julia Gillespie, Brian Maule, and Coach Chris Baxter.
While many tuned in to watch the World Cup to see which team would become the globe’s soccer champs, others watched a competition of a different kind: one that named the earth’s best identifiers of slices of earth.
College students from the United States competed with teams from nine other countries to see who could best interpret soil. America took first and second in the inaugural International Soil Judging Contest. And American contest Tyler Witkowski also won second place overall of 45 contestants.
“Soil and land judging at the high school and college level is a baseline entry for young people to study the land and learn to read the landscape so that they can better manage and protect it,” said Maxine Levin, with the National Soil Survey Center of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. NRCS is the United States’ premier private lands conservation agency, originally founded to conserve and map the nation’s soils. Levin helped prepare the contest and served as a judge. Read more »
A monarch butterfly, a honey bee and an alfalfa leafcutter bee gather nectar from a showy milkweed. Photo by John Anderson of Hedgerow Farms.
Every year, millions of tourists fly from central Mexico into the United States, first stopping in the deep American South and then continuing northward even into parts of southern Canada. How all of this is done without passports, customs agents or airplanes?
This is the annual journey made by monarch butterflies, one of the best-known and most beloved butterflies in North America.
The fact that the annual migration of these distinctive black and orange butterflies spans three countries and thousands of miles makes it an important and prolific pollinator over this large area. Read more »
Logs from the U.S. being shipped overseas are unloaded near the Port of New Orleans in New Orleans, LA on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013. USDA photo by Anson Eaglin.
2013 was a record year for America agricultural exports, with $141 billion in sales and an additional $180 billion in related business activity. We expect even greater things in 2014, when international sales of U.S. farm and food products are expected to reach $149.5 billion. Taken as a whole, these numbers are impressive – but they impress me even more when I think about all the American companies who made this happen.
Many of these companies are based in rural communities, and they employ more than a million U.S. workers to produce products that are valued throughout the world. It’s amazing to think about those individuals, from small towns across America, who produce everything from cheese to pet food to distillers dried grains. It makes me proud of the work USDA is doing to connect these rural producers to international markets. Read more »
Asher Hobson in Rome, who six years later would become the first head of the Foreign Agricultural Service.
The modern Foreign Service is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, as is the American Foreign Service Association. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge signed the Foreign Service Act into law, combining the United States diplomatic and consular services to create the United States Foreign Service. By that time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had already been posting employees overseas for 42 years.
Thanks to President Coolidge’s curiosity, we possess a rare snapshot of USDA international activities in 1924. On December 22 of that year, Coolidge, in his characteristically laconic style, sent a one-line letter to Secretary of Agriculture Howard Gore: “I shall appreciate it if you will send me as soon as possible a list of the representatives the Department may have abroad, their posts and just what they are doing.” Surviving copies of urgent correspondence in the National Archives in College Park testify to the flurry of activity that ensued over the next two weeks as a data call went out to all USDA field offices. Read more »