At USDA, we know that local and regional food systems are an important part of America’s diverse agriculture sector. Local and regional food is a multi-billion dollar market opportunity for America’s farmers, ranchers and food businesses. From the produce vendor at one of the nation’s 8,100 farmers markets to the operating 220 food hubs across America to the robust farm to school activities in each state, the expanding market opportunity for local and regional food continues to gain momentum
USDA stands ready to aid and assist America’s farmers and ranchers who want to participate in this growing sector. We’ve been coordinating our work via the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative. However, our ability to continue supporting the local and regional food marketplace is at stake without the passage of a Food, Farms and Job Bill. Read more »
At USDA, we remain committed to sharing with all Americans the need for a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill to keep up momentum in American agriculture, grow the rural economy and create jobs. And today, we launched Instagram, @USDAgov, to highlight photos and videos from around the country that bring into your home the dynamic beauty of rural America and the hard work of people who live there.
But that’s not all – we want to hear from you! Read more »
Last week’s cover of TIME magazine featured a story about the rapid rate of decline of honeybee populations across the globe. The article focuses on the question of the price we’ll pay if we don’t figure out what is killing the honeybee. A daunting thought when you think about the fact that one-third of all food and beverages are made possible through pollination and pollinators are valued at $15 billion annually.
This morning, Jim Jones from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), author Hannah Nordhaus and I joined TIME journalist Bryan Walsh on Twitter to discuss the topic and what is being done and what needs to be done. If you happened to miss the Twitter chat, you can follow what was said by searching #TIMEbees. Read more »
"Don Phillips, NASS interviewer, uses iPad for data collection for the September Agricultural Survey."
To recognize the contribution that research in agriculture makes in our daily lives, we’re focusing this month’s Science Tuesday blogs on the successes that USDA science agencies have achieved for us all.
How do we know where we’re going unless we know where we’re starting from? That question is the starting point for the world of ag statistics. The numbers point that way, and it takes hundreds of surveys every year, filled out by people working in and depending upon U.S. agriculture, to get those numbers. You may not have considered that collecting statistics was a key part of developing the products you use on a daily basis. So, today we’re highlighting some of our greatest research stories about statistics because “Ag Research Counts” every day, for every American. Tomorrow is the beginning of our trivia contest on Facebook from ‘Science Tuesday’ blogs we’re featuring this month. You can also learn more cool facts in our conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #AgResearchCounts. Here are this week’s blogs featuring NASS research that impacts each of us every day: Read more »
The current vegetation index across the United States. NASS uses satellite images like these to look at weekly crop progress.
When it comes to growing crops, weather is a constantly changing variable. These past few years, grain farmers have been on a veritable weather roller coaster. The floods of 2011 were followed by perfect spring planting conditions in 2012. Conditions deteriorated rapidly, resulting in one of the worst droughts in at least 25 years. This year, the weather has thrown yet another knuckleball at farmers, idling field work and reducing plantings to the slowest pace since 1984 in many areas. Read more »
“Clear, direct and easy to understand” may not be the first words most Americans associate with government publications and documents, but that is changing. Thanks to the Plain Writing Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2010, all federal agencies must now put their readers first when writing new documents or revising old ones. That means before putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, we must first think hard about how our language connects with customers and helps them get the most from USDA’s services and programs.
Secretary Vilsack has asked us at USDA to improve our writing to better serve the public. He believes we cannot carry out our mission effectively if we cannot communicate clearly with those whom we serve. He has made plain writing a cornerstone of his efforts to transform USDA’s culture. Now all of us—even our lawyers—are making our writing easier for the public to read and understand.
This is good news for the American people whose lives are affected every day by USDA’s leadership on issues from agriculture, to nutrition, trade, and energy. The public uses the information in our documents to build strong rural communities, to protect the environment, and to produce our safe and abundant food supply. Read more »