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A New Year with New Data

This time of year, I can’t help but think about cycles – everything coming full circle – from agriculture (planting through harvest) to the holiday season marking the end of one year and the start of the next. Here at USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), we are at an exciting time in the five-year cycle of the Census of Agriculture program, which includes the Census of Agriculture itself – NASS’ largest data collection effort that is sent to every known farm and ranch in the country – as well as several smaller but important special studies. Not only are we just nine weeks away from releasing the results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture on February 21, we are also about to conduct two special studies: the Census of Aquaculture and the Irrigation and Water Management Survey.

Fighting Fire with Fuel Treatments: A Shared Stewardship Approach

Fire season is now about two months longer than it was in the 1970s. Before summer even begins, forests are primed for large fires that spread rapidly in trees that are dehydrated from drought, compromised from fighting off bugs, and often competing for space in overly dense forests.

The Name, the Pin, and the Bee

She leans over her dead subject and deftly pushes a pin through its body, securing it to the foam below. To be clear, this is not about a morgue or a serial killer. This is about taxonomy, or the science of identifying, classifying, and naming organisms. The woman in question is a scientist, and her pinned subject is a bee.

Stand Up Your Holiday Feast with a Tasty Rib Roast

December is filled with holiday observances and family gatherings, many highlighted by a seasonal feast. While the centerpiece for these feasts is as diverse as our nation, beef is a popular choice, particularly the standing rib roast, a traditional favorite. Last holiday season, the standing rib roast accounted for one fourth of all beef roasts marketed in retail outlets.

Your Holiday How-To: Keeping Hot Foods HOT and Cold Foods COLD!

The holidays are here, which means plenty of gatherings with family, friends and food! These get-togethers are usually fun-filled with catching up, laughter and occasional dancing, so don’t let foodborne illness crash your party. One of the best ways to keep foodborne illness off the guest list is to keep your food items at the proper temperatures while you enjoy your party.

‘Noble’ Christmas Tree Illumines Capitol Hill

With a brief countdown and the flick of a switch, the towering U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, on the West Lawn of Capitol Hill, lit up the dark. Visitors from all across America, who stood in near freezing temperatures beneath the majestic pine, cheered as the tree’s thousands of lights glistened the ornaments made especially for it.

Customer Service, Partnership Support A Healthier Start in Life

Getting out into our nation’s communities and witnessing the impact federal nutrition programs have on lives leaves a lasting impression. On a recent trip to Vermont, I saw firsthand how USDA supports America's nutrition safety net, helping a new generation of Americans get a healthier start in life. Thanks to programs like WIC, participating mothers and their children can look forward to a brighter future.

I’m Not Going to Turn Another Clod

Plunging his shovel into a wheat field covered in soybean residue, Gary Hula hefts up a mound of crumbly soil with a grin. The county is under moderate drought and it’s just above freezing outside, but the soil in his shovel is full of moisture and riddled with worm holes—sure signs of healthy soil.