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 »
Making sure children have nutritious meals and keep their bodies moving all year long is one of USDA’s most important missions. Our Summer Food Service Program plays an important role in ensuring that all children get healthy meals during the summertime. We’re proud to say that in 2012, our partners helped to serve 144 million summer meals at 38,800 sites across the country. That translates to 2.3 million children served on a typical summer day.
But there is still a lot of work to be done. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of kids who rely on free and reduced price meals during the school year participate in the summer program. So this year we’ve set out to serve 5 million more summer meals. We need your help to meet that goal. Read more »
Join @USDANutrition for a Twitter chat on Summer Meals tomorrow at 3pmET. Use #summermeals to participate.
Want to help feed kids when school gets out? The USDA is hosting a “Help Serve #SummerMeals This Year” Twitter Town Hall this Friday, April 12, 2013 at 3:00 pm EST to inform and inspire organizations across the country to become a summer meal site when school lets out this year. The Twitter Town Hall will feature USDA Undersecretary Kevin Concannon as well as partner organizations including the Food Research and Action Center, D.C. Hunger Solutions, New York City Coalition Against Hunger, and Food Bank of the Rockies. Summer meal sites can be almost anywhere including parks, recreation centers, schools, libraries, places of worship, hospitals, and even mobile food trucks. If you have questions like: Read more »
Interest in the MyPlate Facebook page grew rapidly with more than 1,000 followers on the first day. Facebook page by Sasha Bard, MS, RD.
MyPlate is using the power of Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter to make it easier for consumers to find simple science-based and practical guidance in many forms to help consumers eat healthier and live healthier. These social media platforms reach broad audiences and can now direct users to the wealth of consumer-friendly content supporting the MyPlate icon.
“Through social media, USDA can reach people where they need to make food decisions – on-the-go, in stores, at restaurants, and at home — and provide timely tips and information that can be shared with family and friends.” – Dr. Robert Post, Associate Executive Director of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Read more »
Ask Secretary Vilsack questions about emerging opportunities in agriculture using the hashtag #AskUSDA
Last week we asked why young Americans should care about the Farm Bill by inviting you to use social media to help tell the story about what is at stake in your lives and communities. The response has been overwhelming! We read tweets from aspiring young scientists about the importance of the Farm Bill to their career. We received messages from business owners looking for ways to keep their family farms in the family for future generations. In fact, we were so struck by your feedback online, we thought that the best person to answer your questions and address your concerns would be Secretary Vilsack himself! Read more »