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: Washington State

USDA Celebrates Mothers, Farmers, and Industry Leaders

Kelly McKnight on horse

“Marketing orders keep farmers talking,” said Kelly McKnight. “Of course we have to think of our individual businesses, but it is essential we work together as well.” Photo courtesy of the Washington Potato Committee.

In honor of Mother’s Day, USDA thanks the nearly 100 wonderful women growers and handlers for dedicating their time and service to their respective industries through our federal fruit and vegetable marketing order committees and boards.  We spoke to a few about being a farmer, mother, and marketing order industry leader.

Kelly McKnight, of the Washington Potato Committee, is a mother of four and a fifth- generation farmer.  McKnight learned the ins and outs of marketing orders from her neighboring potato farmers, alongside an extended network of fellow farmers’ daughters recruited to the committee.  Although the industry is small, McKnight credits the marketing order presence and members for keeping it strong. The committee serves as a network of support, mentorship, and resources, and further builds relationships with related organizations. Read more »

USDA Celebrates the Public Service of 12 Unsung Heroes

USDA colleagues and teams honored at Unsung Hero Award Ceremony

As part of Public Service Recognition Week, outstanding USDA colleagues and teams from around the country were honored at the Department’s 31st Annual Unsung Hero Award Ceremony in Washington, DC. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

Every day, USDA employees are hard at work providing safe, nutritious food for our families and children; conserving our land and natural resources; supporting our nation’s farmers and ranchers; expanding market opportunities for American agriculture at home and abroad; and investing in our rural economies.  Recently, Secretary Vilsack penned a moving essay as to why he dedicates his life to public service at the USDA.

Nearly 100,000 USDA employees serve our country with pride and dedication. As part of Public Service Recognition Week, I joined the Organization of Professional Employees at the Department of Agriculture to honor 12 outstanding colleagues and teams from around the country in our 31st Annual Unsung Hero Award Ceremony.  I invite you to congratulate these extraordinary public servants for their dedication to their jobs and their communities. Read more »

Women Leaders in Agriculture Look to the Future

Sonja Jimenez, Director of Promotion and Economics Division, Agricultural Marketing Service offers advice and support during a Flash Mentoring event at the observance of Women’s Equality Day at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, DC, Tuesday, August 26, 2014. USDA Photo by Bob Nichols.

Sonja Jimenez, Director of Promotion and Economics Division, Agricultural Marketing Service offers advice and support during a Flash Mentoring event at the observance of Women’s Equality Day at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, DC, Tuesday, August 26, 2014. USDA Photo by Bob Nichols.

Judy Olson, Donna Reifschneider, Vanessa Kummer, and Pam Johnson all share something in common— they are the women of “firsts”.

As the first female presidents of some of the major commodity organizations, these women broke new ground in agricultural leadership.  But it wasn’t easy being the only female leaders in a male dominated industry. Ask these four women to talk about their experiences and you will hear similar stories—they all hoped for a deeper network and the opportunity to learn from others. Today, they are all working to ensure that the next generation is right behind them—that they will be the “first but not last”. For them, leadership means being actively engaged with their industries and communities to ensure that women are valued and recognized as equal partners on farms, in businesses and in the board room, and that they share their experiences and expertise to support other women who hope to share their voice and leadership talents. Read more »

In the West, Preparing for Uncertain Water Supply

The April 1 Snowpack Map shows the dramatic, early reduction in snowpack across the West.

The April 1 Snowpack Map shows the dramatic, early reduction in snowpack across the West.

“Well, this shouldn’t take long,” Dr. David Garen said as I sat down to interview him about April snowpack conditions. “March was warm and dry. Spring came early and the snowpack is already melting across most of the West. The End.”

Garen is a hydrologist with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Among other duties, he creates forecast maps and helps write the West-wide forecast summary for the Snow Survey Program.

“This year we had record low snowpack up and down the West Coast,” said Garen. “But even in the areas that had normal snowpack, it’s melting earlier than usual.” Historically, April 1st is when the snowpack peaks. This year has been different. Read more »

#WomeninAg in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska

Participants network at the fourth annual Women in Agriculture – Women, Farms & Food Conference. This year’s theme was “Put Your Best Foot Forward.”

Participants network at the fourth annual Women in Agriculture – Women, Farms & Food Conference. This year’s theme was “Put Your Best Foot Forward.”

Throughout March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been highlighting inspiring women in agriculture as part of National Women’s History Month.

Recently, I participated in the fourth annual Women in Agriculture – Women, Farms & Food Conference. This year’s theme was “Put Your Best Foot Forward.” During the one-day virtual gathering,  more than 650 women across Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington State were linked via satellite in 28 locations.   This enabled women from all walks of life and every sector of the agriculture supply chain to empower one another. Read more »

Automated Weeder Separates Friend from Foe

New technology being developed by the University of California – Davis is putting precision weed control onto farm equipment, which will eliminate the need for much of today’s manual labor.  (iStock image)

New technology being developed by the University of California – Davis is putting precision weed control onto farm equipment, which will eliminate the need for much of today’s manual labor. (iStock image)

This is not your granddad’s weed whacker.

It is, in fact, a weed control system that farmers have only dreamed of – a high-speed machine that can not only distinguish weeds from the value crop, but can eliminate those weeds as carefully as a backyard gardener working by hand.

David Slaughter, of the University of California – Davis’ Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and his team are developing new technologies that can accurately detect, locate, and kill weeds without damaging the cash crop.  Their robotic cultivator is being developed as part of a $2.7 million Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Read more »