It’s hard to believe that it has been a year since USDA embarked on its push to make its data available to you. As you know, open data is free, public data that can be used to: launch commercial and nonprofit ventures; conduct research; make data-driven decisions; and help solve complex problems. It is our hope that USDA data fosters innovation, economic growth and improves American lives. While USDA continues to collect and make available USDA datasets to the public, we also are engaging stakeholders so that we can use that feedback to improve future data submissions.
One year later, USDA has published over 800 data sets on usda.gov/data and data.gov. Considering the vast mission of the Department, we are proud of this accomplishment, specifically: Read more »
Dr. Daniel Pfeffermann, current President of the International Association of Survey Statisticians, discussed the implications big data might have for the production of official statistics at the recent Morris Hansen Lecture, an annual, open-to the-public education and outreach event held at USDA’s Jefferson Auditorium in Washington D.C. Pfeffermann stressed that big data may improve the timeliness of statistics while reducing response burden, but only if big data can be properly assessed, analyzed and interpreted to provide high quality, accurate information that is truly of value to users. USDA/NASS Photo by Dan Beckler.
Unless you live completely off the grid, you likely have heard of, and contribute to, “big data,” the often-used catch phrase describing massive (and ever-increasing) volumes of information stored digitally on computers, servers and clouds.
From advertisers using data mined from customer interactions; to government agencies making data public so developers can create beneficial mobile apps; to farmers applying statistical data to determine their production and marketing practices, a wide-variety of people and industries use big data. Read more »
City Harvest rescues excess food using a fleet of 19 refrigerated trucks, three cargo bikes, over 150 full-time employees, and more than 8,000 volunteers. In fiscal year 2015, they will collect 50 million pounds of food, greater than the total amount of food collected in its first 14 years combined. Seventy-five percent of this total will be comprised of nutrient dense foods, including fresh produce, meat and dairy. Photo courtesy of City Harvest.
Beginning in August, food banks across the country competed to see who could sign up the most food donors to the U.S. Food Waste Challenge. From among the 200 food banks in the Feeding America network, the champion is City Harvest in New York City, which won by signing up 114 donors to the Challenge. City Harvest will have a private meeting with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and will be awarded six suite tickets to attend either an NBA or NHL game at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The tickets were donated by Monumental Sports and Entertainment (MSE), owner of the Washington Capitals, Mystics, Wizards, and Verizon Center. Since 2011, MSE has recovered and donated 7,377 pounds of wholesome unsold food from its events to D.C. Central Kitchen, which translates to approximately 5,600 meals.
“We appreciate City Harvest’s longstanding commitment to food rescue and congratulate them for signing up the most food donors to the U.S. Food Waste Challenge,” said Secretary Vilsack. “The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on earth, but too much of this food goes to waste. Organizations like City Harvest get this food to people who need it while reducing the amount of food that ends up in our country’s landfills.” Read more »
The Federal Center South in Seattle makes extensive use of wood. (Federal Center South – Building 1202; ZGA Architects; photo Benjamin Benschneider, WoodWorks 2014 Commercial Wood Design Award). Used with permission.
It’s a good time for building with wood products. More architects and contractors are returning to this renewable, sturdy, all-purpose material after decades of what some might consider an undue reliance on concrete and steel.
In furthering that message, I was pleased to join WoodWorks, a nonprofit organization supported by a $1 million grant from the U.S. Forest Service, to host more than 350 architects and builders this year at the Wood Solutions Fair in the District of Columbia.
The fair promoted the use of wood in commercial buildings in helping maintain sustainable forest management, addressing wildfires, droughts, extreme storms and insect epidemics. Wood buildings store tremendous amounts of carbon and reduce the fossil energy needed for construction over alternatives like concrete, steel and aluminum. Read more »
Researchers at USDA Agricultural Research Service help reduce food waste by developing new ways to extend food shelf life and by creating new food products, biobased plastics, and animal feed from food waste. USDA photo by Stephen Ausmus.
Less than 2 years ago, the USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, with the goal of reducing food waste in the United States. We set an ambitious goal of having at least 400 businesses, schools, and/or organizations join the challenge by letting us know what they are doing to reduce food waste in their operations. USDA also committed to finding ways in which its 33 agencies and offices could help reduce food waste through policy, partnerships, and research.
As of today, we have surpassed our membership goal by signing up 1,313 participants in the U.S. Food Waste Challenge.
The number and diversity of participants joining the challenge are indicative of a growing movement to reduce food waste that is spreading across the country. Read more »
Shortly after taking office, I joined other Cabinet officials on a visit to rural Southwest Alaska. We met with Alaska Native leaders and heard firsthand the difficulties facing Native Americans living in small communities in remote, rural areas. Since that time, this administration has worked each day to provide Native Americans with improved housing, better educational opportunities, clean water and sanitation, and the opportunity to create good jobs. Across government, and here at USDA, we’ve made progress.
This past week, I joined President Obama and members of the Cabinet at the sixth White House Tribal Nations Conference here in Washington, DC. In addition to serving as the Chair of the White House Rural Council, I am also a member of the White House Council on Native American Affairs, chaired by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. Our priorities in Indian Country include promoting sustainable economic development; supporting greater access to and control over healthcare; improving the effectiveness and efficiency of tribal justice systems; expanding and improving educational opportunities for Native American youth; and protecting and supporting the sustainable management of Native lands, environments and natural resources. Read more »