Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Posts tagged: Plant and Animal Health

Forest Service Offers Practical Advice for Using Insect-Killed Trees

A new manual released by the U.S. Forest Service offers solutions for using the millions of dead and dying urban trees infected by invasive insects in the eastern United States. 

The free publication, developed by the Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory and the University of Minnesota Duluth, offers insight into the wide variety of products and markets that are available, and practical advice for considering the many options. Uses for insect-killed wood include lumber, furniture, cabinetry, flooring and pellets for wood-burning energy facilities. Last year, commemorative ornaments were made from beetle-killed trees for the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree celebration.

: Since its discovery in 2002, the emerald ash borer has killed tens of millions of ash trees in 13 states. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

: Since its discovery in 2002, the emerald ash borer has killed tens of millions of ash trees in 13 states. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Read more »

Why I Became an Inspector in APHIS’ Animal Care Program

Animal Care inspector Bob Markmann conducts an inspection at a commercial dog breeding facility.

Animal Care inspector Bob Markmann conducts an inspection at a commercial dog breeding facility.

USDA/APHIS’ Animal Care program enforces the federal Animal Welfare Act, which sets standards for humane care and treatment that must be provided for certain animals that are exhibited to the public, bred for commercial sale, used in biomedical research, or transported commercially. Individuals/entities that operate facilities using animals in these ways must provide their animals with proper veterinary care, adequate housing, appropriate nutrition, etc. Read more »

USDA APHIS Celebrates 40 Years of Public Service

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is celebrating the agency’s 40th anniversary today.  While

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is celebrating the agency’s 40th anniversary today.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is celebrating the agency’s 40th anniversary today.  While APHIS’ program activities and responsibilities have grown and evolved since the Agency’s founding in 1972, the mission remains the same:  serving the public by protecting the health and value of American agriculture and natural resources. Read more »

Here Comes the Year of the Dragon: How to Honor the Asian New Year while Protecting American Agriculture

Okay, Times Square, you had your big New Year’s Eve bash.  Now it’s time to usher in the Asian Lunar New Year—the Year of the Dragon—which starts on January 23.  Many Asian Americans and their friends are looking forward to enjoying traditional foods, gifts, and parades during this holiday of great cultural significance.

If you’re in on the celebration, you may find it tempting to import tastes of Asia for the festivities.  You may be ordering online or bringing food back from a trip overseas.  USDA is eager to provide you with the information you need to ensure that these items won’t harm America’s agricultural and natural resources.  Some agricultural items from certain Asian countries could be carrying pests or diseases that could seriously damage America’s crops, livestock, forests, rangeland, or community landscapes.  Avoiding these items will help make the Year of the Dragon a prosperous and happy one. Read more »

Bringing Biotechnology to the Developing World

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 the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.


Two weeks ago, I led the U.S. delegation to Mexico for the FAO International Biotechnology Conference, where officials from across the world gathered to address the potential of agricultural biotechnologies for improving the livelihoods of small farmers in developing countries.  These “smallholders” constitute 75 percent of the world’s poor, and face a disproportionate share of the enormous pressures facing agricultural production systems.

The FAO warns that the combined effects of population growth, strong income growth, and urbanization will require a doubling of food production by 2050. That doubling of production will need to occur despite climate disruptions, critical water shortages in some parts of the globe, increased salinity of soil, the ever present pressure of pests and pathogens, and the necessity to reduce the energy and environmental footprints of agriculture practices.  Smallholders will need help to meet these challenges.

Conference delegates from developing countries acknowledged that biotechnology is a crucial tool and opportunity for alleviating hunger and poverty, while also spurring economic development and mitigating climate change.  However, the various applications of agricultural biotechnologies are not widely accessible for use in many developing countries, and have not yet substantially benefited small farmers and producers.  Three key elements are necessary to make agricultural biotechnology accessible to the developing world: increased investments, international cooperation, and effective and enabling national policies and regulatory frameworks.

The conference identified ways the United States and other nations can encourage developed and developing countries to support appropriate use of agricultural biotechnologies for improving food security and enhancing sustainable agriculture, especially in the context of growing climatic changes and a growing human population.  This includes:

  • Encourage increased commitment by governments to strengthen human and institutional capacities in biotechnologies in national and regional institutions.
  • Improve knowledge sharing and access to and application of biotechnologies.
  • Facilitate the exchange of information among and between scientists and policymakers worldwide.
  • Help scientists gain knowledge and technical expertise through developing new partnerships and exchange opportunities.
  • Develop partnerships and alliances with farmers and farmer organizations, the private sector, international and regional research institutions, foundations and other relevant organizations, to facilitate and enhance the coordination of research activities and strengthen mechanisms for dissemination of best practices and technologies.

President Obama has made global food security, nutrition enhancement, and poverty reduction important  priorities for this Administration.  Building capacity for the use of modern biotechnologies in developing countries, such as marker assisted selection, tissue culture propagation, and genetic engineering, would help meet these goals and solve a growing worldwide problem.

I believe in USDA’s commitment to solving these global problems while also working toward our goals of sustainable agriculture.  Both high crop yields and safe and sustainable practices are critically important and attainable.  As USDA’s Chief Scientist and director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, I am excited to see agricultural science and technology work in a way that will meet today’s global challenges, but do so in a way that works toward economic, environmental and social sustainability.

I have every confidence that the women and men in USDA and our partner institutions, who work daily to unlock the secrets of human, plant and animal health, can be equally responsive to the challenge of building a sustainable future for agriculture and forestry that includes access to biotechnology for smallholders and others.

Roger Beachy

Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture