A chicken infected with low pathogenic avian influenza. Photo courtesy of Dr. Nathaniel Tablante
The December 2014 to June 2015 avian influenza outbreak was the largest animal health emergency in U.S. history. The virus contributed to the death of more than 48 million birds, either due to infection with the virus or depopulation to prevent additional spread. The virus was introduced into the U.S. by wild migratory waterfowl and then spread from farm to farm in a number of ways. This included farms sharing equipment, vehicles moving between farms without being cleaned or disinfected, employees moving between infected and non-infected farms, rodents and small wild birds reported inside some poultry houses, and feed stored outside or without appropriate biosecurity measures. The virus spread was also assisted by instances of noncompliance with industry-recommended biosecurity practices.
Fortunately, avian influenza poses little threat to human health and food safety. Human infections with avian influenza are rare and most often occur after direct contact with an infected bird. Avian influenza does, however, adversely affect food availability and the economy. If a single bird became infected with the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus during the 2014-15 outbreak, every bird in the same commercial poultry house – which contains an average of 30,000 birds – was depopulated. Read more »
Since its creation more than 100 years ago, 4-H has expanded its focus from the field to the lab to keep pace with developments in agricultural techniques and technologies. Photo courtesy of 4-H.
National 4-H Week happens each October, a time when nearly six million youth celebrate their participation in 4-H. Every year, clubs around the country showcase the great things that 4-H offers young people and highlight the incredible things they do to make a positive impact in their communities.
The 4-H clover is one of the most recognized icons in the country, but it wasn’t always that way. Like most things, it grew – this case from three leaves.
The seeds of 4-H were planted at the start of the 20th century by several adults in different states who were concerned about young people. Clark County, Ohio, claims credit as being the birthplace of 4-H, although the initial groups were called “The Tomato Club” or the “Corn Club.” Read more »
Many NIFA-funded programs make it easier for low income families to access fresh, nutritious foods and stretch their food-buying dollars. (iStock image)
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) opened its doors on Oct. 1, 2009, created by the 2008 Farm Bill. NIFA begins its eighth year as USDA’s premier extramural agricultural science agency by examining its role in helping reduce hunger in the United States.
As a nation, we are making great strides in combating food insecurity—the limited access to adequate food due to a lack of money and other resources. A recent household food security report issued by USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) shows the lowest figures on record for food insecurity among children.
Funding and leadership from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) support many food and nutrition assistance programs that provide low-income households access to food, a healthful diet and nutrition education. Three such programs are the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI), Community Food Projects (CFP), and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). Read more »
Visitors to USDA’s Farmers Market on Sept. 30, 2016, weren’t playing Pokemon. They were helping with a behavioral economics field study about food choices. (Ken Melton, USDA)
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.
What were visitors to USDA’s Farmers Market on Friday, Sept. 30, doing with the iPads they were holding? They certainly weren’t playing Pokemon Go! Instead, they were participating in a behavioral economics study about food choices.
The USDA Farmers Market, managed by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and located just steps from the National Mall in downtown Washington, D.C., is a “living laboratory” for farmers markets around the country. It’s also a great place to learn about the factors that influence customers’ buying decisions. Read more »
Canola is the subject of a rural economic growth project in Western Oklahoma. USDA ARS image
Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs) play a unique role in USDA’s service to rural America. They link the research and educational outreach capacity of the nation’s public universities with communities, local decision makers, entrepreneurs, families, and farmers and ranchers to help address a wide range of development issues. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) provides core funding for RRDCs and integrated research, education, and extension activities.
By Rachel Welborn, project manager with the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University
How can rural communities compete in an ever-expanding global market?
Rural counties across the country are finding innovative ways to capitalize on their local strengths. Through a guided process, more than 400 counties in 38 states are discovering new ways to work together to grow their economies. Read more »
The Healthy Homes Partnership is helping flood victims in Louisiana recover and rebuild. USDA photo
(This guest blog describes how the Healthy Homes Partnership helped residents affected by recent flooding in Louisiana. Healthy Homes Partnership is an interagency program funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes and is housed at the University of Missouri – Extension. Because September is National Preparedness Month, it is a good time to think about emergency planning. Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make an Emergency Communication Plan for you and your family as you just don’t know when a disaster will strike your community.)
By Michael Goldschmidt, national director of Healthy Homes Partnership, University of Missouri Extension
In mid-August, residents of Southern Louisiana were deluged by about two feet of rain. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the resulting flooding caused at least 13 deaths and damaged more than 100,000 homes. Several federal agencies and partners sprang into action to help, including Healthy Homes Partnership (HHP). Read more »