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August 2018

APHIS and Partners Sponsor Annual Honey Bee Survey Directed at Monitoring Bee Health

About one mouthful in three in our diets directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination. That makes bees critically valuable to humans’ existence. For this reason the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) documents issues affecting honey bee health through the annual National Honey Bee Survey (NHBS). The survey collects data on bee health to understand long term trends, factors that drive bee health, ways to safeguard bee populations in the United States. Bee pollination is responsible for $15+ billion in added crop value -- particularly for specialty crops such as almonds and other nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables. We need the economic benefits, as well as the nourishment, that bees provide to us through their role in pollination.

AMS Service Solutions Help Farmers and Handlers Make All the Right Moves

It takes a village to get those red ripe watermelon or sweet ears of corn to the neighborhood grocery store at the right time for consumers. Producers must decide when to plant and pick crops, package produce, find buyers and select the right shipper to transport products to market. Hundreds of people and thousands of decisions are needed to get the fruits and vegetables people love to stores at peak freshness. And to make sure everything gets done right, many producers and handlers rely on trusted resources from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

Vertical Farming for the Future

Imagine walking into your local grocery story on a frigid January day to pick up freshly harvested lettuce, fragrant basil, juicy sweet strawberries, and ripe red tomatoes – all of which were harvested at a local farm only hours before you’d arrived. You might be imagining buying that fresh produce from vertical farms where farmers can grow indoors year-round by controlling light, temperature, water, and oftentimes carbon dioxide levels as well. Generally, fresh produce grown in vertical farms travels only a few miles to reach grocery store shelves compared to conventional produce, which can travel thousands of miles by truck or plane.

e-Connectivity: A Foundation for Rural Prosperity

In small towns from Maine to California, access to reliable, high-speed internet is a foundation for rural prosperity. From quality health care to advanced education and precision ag technology at the local farm equipment dealer, e-connectivity is a lifeline to the modern economy. And, yet we know that a significant number of rural Americans are not connected.

How the Forest Service Restores Public Lands Now and in the Future

More than 80 million acres of national forests are at risk from insect infestations, the impacts of prolonged drought, and the too frequent devastation caused by catastrophic wildfire. And the USDA Forest Service has a responsibility to the American public to move quickly and cost-effectively to restore these damaged wildlands.

Employing Wheat's Bacterial Partners to Fight a Pathogen

Fusarium head blight is a devastating fungal disease affecting wheat and barley crops worldwide. According to the American Phytopathological Society, this disease has cost U.S. wheat and barley farmers more than $3 billion since 1990. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists, together with land managers and other scientists at research universities, are taking a variety of approaches to solving this problem. These include breeding resistant cultivars, using massive disease-forecasting models and applying fungicides during critical junctures in crop growth to prevent fusarium head blight. Recently, many scientists have also become interested in the idea of employing microbial species that already live on and inside crop plants to do the dirty work of controlling disease epidemics.

Weeds, Trees, and Property Lines and Good Neighbors

I once lived in a home where fighting lawn weeds seemed a never-ending task. This was a new housing development. Pickets tied with bits of pink ribbon still clearly showed where our property began and ended, and they were handy for helping me determine where I could put in my fence and where I could stop mowing and trimming.