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Why Should Young People Care About The Farm Bill?

As young people that grew up in urban areas, it’s easy to wonder why we, or our peers, should care about the Farm Bill. The truth of the matter is, the Farm Bill affects more than just farmers.

As Congress works to pass a new Farm Bill before the end of the year, it’s crucial to make our voices heard on this important topic.

From the rural youth looking to take over the family farm to the urban gardener looking to grow fresh produce on the rooftop of their apartment building; from aspiring beginning farmers to outdoorsmen; from farmers market lovers to grocery store regulars, the Farm Bill is everywhere.

Kake Forests Provide More than Just Trees

On a typical late summer day in Kake, Alaska, residents prepare for the day by layering heavy-duty rain gear, protective gloves and rubber boots over jeans and fleece. Most of these Alaskans will head to work supporting the local fishing industry. A select few, however, will be bundling up for a slightly different catch: wild organic blueberries.

The Undisputed Champ in Almond Exports Goes to Russia

With Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) earlier this year, there is a growing interest in doing business with the Russian food and agricultural sector. This week, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS) Michael Scuse leads a U.S. delegation of more than 20 U.S. companies and five state departments of agriculture on an agricultural trade mission to Moscow and St. Petersburg. The goal of the mission is to continue a concerted effort by the Obama Administration to expand export opportunities for U.S. businesses with nations around the world, including Russia.

One example of a successful U.S.-Russia agricultural partnership is the export of California almonds to Russia for use in the confectionery sector. Russia is the second largest confectionery market in the world, and demand for high quality ingredients such as U.S. nuts and dried fruits have been increasing. With that in mind, Under Secretary Scuse and the state department delegates visit the Red October Chocolate Factory in Moscow, where they will see how this Russian company uses U.S. almonds.

Innovation Helps Fuel Growth for Winter Farmers Markets

This is one of my favorite times of the year.  New and old traditions bring friends and family together to celebrate, cheer for their favorite football teams or just to share a hearty meal and some spirited conversations.  As the weather gets cooler, my family gravitates toward comfort foods and traditional family favorites, picking up fresh ingredients from our local winter farmers market. And, based on the growth in winter market listings this year, we’re not the only ones who have made this a part of our fall and winter traditions.

A New Tool for Breeding Better Wheat

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA's rich science and research portfolio.

An international team of scientists, including some from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, has identified the 90,000-plus genes that make up the wheat genome. This was a monumental task, considering that the wheat genome is five times the size of the human genome.

Why does this matter?  Wheat is one of the world’s “big three” crops, along with rice and corn, and unlocking its secrets will help researchers develop an overall picture of the plant's genetic makeup and broaden their understanding of how genetics and environment determine a crop’s health and viability. Why is one variety of wheat susceptible to drought or a particular disease, but not another? Why does one variety grow well in one type of soil, but not another? The genome map will help scientists find those answers by making it easier to link specific genes with important traits and develop genetic markers that can lead to breeding of new wheat varieties that produce higher yields and better tolerate drought, diseases and pests.

A Green Menace Threatens a Mohawk Community

For centuries, the Mohawk community of the Akwesasne (pronounced AHG - weh - SAUCE – knee) have created traditional basketry from the abundance of ash trees found along the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Thousand Islands area in New York.

But for the last three years, the trees and the matchless creativity of the Akwesasne have been threatened by a particularly harmful insect called the Emerald Ash Borer.

Year-End Statistics Critical to Farm Disaster and Insurance Programs for Producers

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA's rich science and research profile.

At the end of the year, some producers may be feeling survey fatigue from responding to numerous requests from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) for data about their farm operations.  All of the survey responses received during the year are important, as the resulting statistics serve farmers directly in many ways.  NASS’s end-of year surveys, for example, are critical for USDA to administer farm disaster and insurance programs, which are as important as ever with recent extreme weather conditions. And this is a great asset for farmers who can in turn use this information to make sound decisions for their businesses.

New Jersey School Gardens Offer More Than Just Produce

New Jersey Farm to School Network and Edible Jersey Magazine recently awarded their inaugural School Garden of the Year Award to three projects for innovative efforts to connect their school gardens to the cafeteria, curriculum, and community.  How fitting that schools in the Garden State are host to a number of exemplary school gardens!