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November 2013

From Data to Decisions: Using Data to Improve Public Access and Knowledge

There are many companies that are currently using USDA data. Mercaris is a new company filling in the gap in offerings with reliable market data and an online trading tool tailored to the organic and non-GMO production, processing, and retail industries. Their reports present current and archived market condition information to assist in pricing decisions. FarmLogs provides comprehensive farm management software-as-a-service to farmers managing farms ranging from small-scale to over 30k acres. Their platform supports a hybrid of government and farmer-generated data that is analyzed and incorporated into their decisionmaking tools.

USDA wants to continue to encourage additional innovations and solutions by providing the data and statistics necessary that will offer improved agricultural production, global food security, poverty, nutrition and human health, natural resources and environmental issues, rural development, local and regional food systems, and many other issues.

One Day of Gleaning Brings Joy to Thousands of Children

What started out with just a handful of FSA employees trying to do the right thing has turned into an annual event that spans six New Mexico counties.

Ten years ago John Perea, county executive director for Torrance County, N.M., started a project to glean pumpkins from farmers John and Dianne Aday.

“We started it as an effort to take pumpkins that were left in the field and still in good shape, and try to get them to needy children,” said Perea, who along with other FSA employees coordinates the event each year. “We try to find schools in areas which demographically have families that are lower income and in neighborhoods with a history of drug abuse and various social problems.”

Beginning Rancher Welcomes Assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service

Despite the ongoing drought in part of Texas, there are always people who want to get into the cattle raising business. A growing segment of these new beef producers are non-traditional small-tract landowners, such as Jorge Espinoza of Laredo.

Espinoza just purchased his first 50 acres, and he quickly learned that if he was to be successful, he needed expert advice.

Through word of mouth, Espinoza heard about USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency that works with farmers and landowners to implement conservation on private lands.

Be Prepared for Winter Driving in National Forests - Your Life Could Depend on it

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend tradition has long included the unofficial kick-off to ski season and a time when families head out to find their Christmas tree, and many times those events involve a trip to U.S. Forest Service lands.

Recreationists find some of the best downhill, cross-country and snowshoeing opportunities with 122 ski areas in 13 states using a total of 182,095 acres of Forest Service-managed land. Add to those opportunities snowmobiling and winter camping, which makes public lands a great family destination. With a permit, you can even find your perfect Christmas tree.

On The Road: Deputy Secretary Harden Tours Projects in Delaware and Pennsylvania

After a busy day at University of Delaware filled with a student roundtable and a visit to the UDairy Creamery, Deputy Secretary Harden awoke in Pennsylvania to tour the Conewago Watershed, a local flower farm and the YorKitchen incubator.

On a mild November Friday, Deputy Secretary Harden traveled through the scenic countryside of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her tour began with the Conewago Creek Watershed in Lancaster County, including visits to several trails, fencing, forested riparian buffers and stream crossings. Deputy Harden then stopped in at the Lebanon County Field Office to chat with staff from Natural Resources and Conservation Services and Rural Development. A winding trip through Lancaster County led to Cramer’s Posie Patch in Mount Joy, where she met with owners Ralph and Keith Cramer for a tour of their 47 acre wholesale fresh and dried flower farm. While the fresh cut flower season is over, the dried flowers from this year’s harvest depicted a time of vibrancy during the growing season. The dried and long-stem fresh flowers are sold to wholesale distributors for the creation of home décor arrangements and wreaths.

Don't Let No-Show Guests Jeopardize Food Safety This Thanksgiving!

You've invited the guests, decorated the table and prepared the food. Then the guests are delayed, call to cancel or don't show at all. Holiday meals and other celebrations require careful planning to ensure that everything goes as planned. When guests encounter emergencies and the meal must be delayed or cancelled, food must be handled "just right" to remain safe.

Every Thanksgiving, the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline receives inquiries from consumers who need help with these unplanned situations. Here are just a few.

¡No permita que invitados que no se presenten pongan en peligro la inocuidad alimentaria en el Día de Acción de Gracias!

Se han invitado familiares y amigos, decorado la mesa y preparado la comida. Entonces, los invitados están atrasados, llaman para cancelar o simplemente no se aparecen. Las cenas festivas y otras celebraciones requieren una planificación cuidadosa para asegurarse que todo resulte según planificado. Cuando los invitados afrontan emergencias y la comida debe ser retrasada o cancelada, ésta debe ser manejada “cuidadosamente” para continuar siendo inocua.

Cada Día de Acción de Gracias, La Línea Directa sobre Carnes y Aves del Departamento de Agricultura de los Estados Unidos de América recibe consultas de consumidores que necesitan ayuda con estas situaciones no planificadas. He aquí algunas de éstas.

Keeping it Close to Home: How USDA and Small Business Saturday Help Rural Businesses Thrive

By now, we’re all familiar with the uniquely American shopping frenzy known as “Black Friday.” Almost before the Thanksgiving leftovers are even in the fridge, Big Box stores throw open their doors, offering sales geared toward holiday shoppers wrangling for the best deals. Black Friday has become as much of a November tradition as pumpkin pie, but for the past few years, small businesses around the country have been offering an enticing alternative to the long lines and early wake-up calls that come with the craze. USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBCS) is pleased to join the White House, the Small Business Administration and 1,400 American communities in celebrating Small Business Saturday on November 30.

Small Business Saturday is all about buying local and shopping small. Shopping small for both holiday gifts and everyday items not only can save you money, it also offers you access to one-of-a-kind, locally-made products as an alternative to “cookie-cutter” gifts. Small Business Saturday is designed to support the businesses that drive commerce in small communities; businesses that account for 44 percent of the private sector payroll and create two out of every three new jobs in America.

NIFA Grant Brings Power of the Sun to Remote Arizona Community

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 portfolio.

A man in Arizona threw away an extension cord – and that’s a big deal for some folks who live about 100 miles west of Tucson.

The 48 families who live in the Pisinemo District of the Tohono O’odham Nation reside in an area so remote that some had to get their power by stringing extension cords to a neighbor’s house. Now, however, they have new solar panels to provide electricity for heating, cooling, and cooking.

Thanksgiving - Brought to You by the American Farmer

Thanksgiving is a time when Americans come together to celebrate a holiday that connects each and every one of us. During this truly American holiday, we all give thanks for the previous year’s blessings and look ahead to the future. While we may bring our own traditions and flavors to the table, Thanksgiving is a time for all of us to celebrate our country’s rich history.

It has always been a special holiday to me, but this past year I developed an even greater appreciation for all that goes in to producing the Thanksgiving meal. As Administrator of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), I spent the last six months visiting with American farmers and learning about their businesses. In my conversations with American farmers and ranchers, I am always impressed by their work ethic, ingenuity, and dedication to making sure their customers get the best products. It’s no wonder that our nation's farmers were responsible for producing nearly 7.5 trillion pounds of turkey in 2012—nearly half the world’s supply!—and are leaders when it comes to many other foods regularly featured in Thanksgiving meals.  In 2012, American farmers also produced 3.1 billion pounds of sweet corn and nearly 2.7 billion pounds of sweet potatoes.