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October 2020

ARS Research Innovates to Reduce Food Loss and Waste: An Interview with Gene Lester

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is USDA’s chief scientific in-house research agency. More than 2,000 scientists at 90 research centers in the U.S. and abroad work to investigate solutions to agricultural challenges from farm to table. What are USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists doing to help reduce food loss and waste? This interview features insights from Gene Lester, ARS, National Program Leader for Product Quality and New Uses, and Biorefining/Bioproducts.

USDA’s Cutting-Edge Methods Help Deliver a Victory Against Asian Giant Hornet

After weeks of searching, Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) entomologists–—using a radio tag provided by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and a trap developed by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service–— have located and eradicated the first Asian giant hornet (AGH) nest ever found in the United States. For months, WSDA had been trying to find the nest they knew must exist near Blaine, WA, because of AGH detections in the area. But finding the nest proved extremely challenging since the hornets build nests in forested areas, typically in an underground cavity.

Eat with Confidence

The Pesticide Data Program (PDP), part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), recently published its 2019 PDP Annual Summary (PDF, 10 MB). This yearly report found that nearly 99 percent of almost 10,000 samples of fresh, frozen and processed foods had pesticide residues below levels set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Most of these samples were of fruits and vegetables. This means you can eat with the confidence that your food is safe and nutritious for you and your family.

Harvesting Trees in the Right Place at the Right Time

Timber sales are an important part of the work to reduce wildfire risk on your national forests and grasslands. However, many of the policies governing how forest products are harvested and sold are decades old, and forest conditions, climate, forest products markets and our workforce have changed.

APHIS Wildlife Biologists Aid Squirrel Recovery on the Delmarva

Many claim that 2020 has been a year of chaos and calamity, but for one rare squirrel, it might be a year of hope and new beginnings. The Delmarva Fox Squirrel (DFS) is a subspecies of fox squirrel found on the eastern shore of Maryland, Southern Delaware and Virginia. This pudgy, slow squirrel with its signature size and silvery-white coat has become a conservation success story in Maryland. Habitat loss along with other additive factors landed them on the Federal endangered species list in 1967. Protection and management efforts benefited DFS and in 2015, populations reached stable limits and they were officially delisted in Maryland. In parts of Delaware, DFS populations were not as prolific and numbers began to dwindle over time leaving only a few small populations.

USDA’s Two Statistical Agencies Produce Quality, Trusted Information

Every five years, the United Nations designates October 20 as World Statistics Day to celebrate the importance of official statistics. USDA has two principal federal statistical agencies, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and the Economic Research Service (ERS). These two agencies provide vast amounts of information that help us better understand our food system, rural communities, the environment, and the farmers who feed our families.

How Much Science is in Your Shopping Cart?

Do you use Roma tomatoes for your homemade marinara sauce? Do you like hops in your beer and good flavor in your fried catfish? Do you enjoy strawberries, and do you wish there was a natural mosquito repellant on the market? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you can thank scientists from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) for increasing the quality of these – and more – items in your shopping cart.