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Last Modified: 03/21/2012
  • A mother and son shop for veggies and flowers—both specialty crops—at a local farmers market. Over half the foods we eat are considered specialty crops. Support for this vital sector of agriculture relies on the stability provided through a comprehensive Farm Bill. Photo by Melinda Shelton. “Specialty crops”—the label may sound like exotic foods or something reserved for a special occasion, but this area of agriculture represents more than half the foods we eat on a daily basis.  Defined as fruits and veggies, tree nuts, herbs, dried fruit, decorative plants and flowers, these crops are...
  • September is National Preparedness Month, and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service reminds you to plan ahead in order to keep your food safe just in case you encounter hurricanes, flooding, fires, power outages or other emergencies that threaten storage conditions. On any given day, maintaining the proper temperature and sanitation of food storage areas should prevent bacterial growth and keep your food safe to eat.  However, severe weather and other emergencies can compromise these conditions. Knowing what to do during emergencies can minimize the need to throw away food and the risk of...
  • Banks of light-emitting diodes (LED) illuminate plants in greenhouses. Purdue University researchers discovered that LEDs can provide a more beneficial light spectrum to greenhouse plants than conventional lighting while using 75 percent less electricity. Courtesy of Celina Gomez. This post is part of the Science Today feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio. For about 2,000 years – since Roman emperor Tiberius demanded fresh cucumbers for lunch year ‘round – farmers have been looking for better...
  • National Public Lands Day is the nation's largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. Here, volunteers perform trail maintenance. U.S. Forest Service Photo. The crisp fall air provides an invigorating environment for outdoor activity.  What better time to visit and volunteer on our national forests and grasslands than on Sept. 28, for the 20th annual National Public Lands Day and second annual National Tribal Lands Day. This is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands sponsored by the National Environmental Education Foundation. This year’s theme is: “...
  • El Rincon Farm’s high tunnel and crops of lentils, corn, Chimayó chile and other crops in Chimayó, N.M. Photo from NRCS. Everything that siblings Adán and Pilar Trujillo do on their Chimayó, New Mexico, farm connects with the community. Their lettuce and chile peppers feed students at local schools. And they sell their rhubarb, rainbow chard and red Russian kale at the community market just down the road in Española. Conservation work helps the brother-and-sister duo make this possible. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is honoring contributions made by Hispanic Americans...
  • Rural America faces tremendous uncertainty today. Congress has not yet passed a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, and the current extension of 2008 Farm Bill programs will soon expire. Additionally, thus far, no budget has been provided by Congress to continue funding the Federal government past September 30. Amid this uncertainty, USDA remains focused on our mission and on our work to revitalize the rural economy.  We have delivered record investments under President Obama’s leadership, and we will continue working to do so.   In a time of reduced resources, we’ve also taken a wide range of new,...
  • Sierra Hellstrom, Nature High Summer Camp director, explains to student about the core sample taken from an aspen tree. In a few short years, high school students at Nature High Summer Camp on the Manti-LaSal National Forest in Utah may become newly minted natural resource professionals who make a difference in the world of natural resources. The 30 high-school students from Utah met as strangers on a Monday morning, but left Saturday as good friends who connected with nature in a way they had never before experienced. “It’s amazing to see the changes in the students over the course of a...
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Small Business Connections is designed to provide small businesses and small farmer-owned cooperatives with the exposure and insight to help increase contracting participation with the federal government.  USDA’s continued commitment to broadening this access to contract opportunities stimulates small business ownership and economic growth, creates jobs, and results in improving the quality of life across America. In support of the Obama Administration’s efforts to put Americans back to work and create an economy built to last, on Sept. 24 in Macon,...
  • The Pinchot legacy continues for future generations with programs offered at Grey Towers. Credit: US Forest Service, Grey Towers NHS A beautiful, blue stone mansion with its slate roof and turrets, known as Grey Towers, in Milford, Pa. has been a sanctuary for visitors from around the world to learn about conservation and natural resources. Fifty years ago on Sept. 24, 1963, President John F. Kennedy dedicated the Grey Towers National Historic Site and the Pinchot Institute for Conservation Studies as a “living memorial” to America’s first forester and two-term Pennsylvania governor, Gifford...
  • A new academic year is here for millions of students and teachers across the country, and in spirit of the many back to school nights and open houses taking place, I’m encouraging you to explore USDA’s International Year of Statistics Virtual Open House. The International Year of Statistics, sponsored by more than 2,000 organizations – including the USDA – is a worldwide event to help teach everyone about the powerful and far-reaching effects of statistics. When people hear the word “statistics,” they often think of sports statistics or the course they took and struggled to pass. While you...

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