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innovation

Trees and Shrubs Protect Crops and Generate Income for Farmers

Across the United States, farmers are taking innovative approaches to foster environmental stewardship and economic viability through a common conservation practice called the riparian forest buffer. Supporting production while enhancing conservation is an important goal of both US Department of Agriculture Secretary Perdue’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda (PDF, 196 KB) and of the USDA Forest Service. Agroforestry, the intentional integration of trees and crops and/or livestock to meet economic, conservation, and social goals, is one strategy that offers many innovative “productive conservation” options, including riparian buffers.

Data Say…Dairy Has Changed

When I was younger, I loved to watch a cartoon on TV called ‘The Jetsons,’ which showed life in a future world. People had flying, self-driven “cars” and robotic housekeepers. As a kid who loved her meat and potatoes, I distinctly remember one scene in which Judy Jetson served a steak dinner by getting a pill from a vending-type machine. Her father, George Jetson, savored the two small bites filled with flavor and nutrition. This meal satisfied him completely. I couldn’t then imagine that futuristic dinner scene being a reality, and I still don’t. But technology, science, and marketing have changed the way we produce our food and have altered the structure of farming. Data tell us so. Let’s look at milk as an example.

NIFA’s Contributions to America’s Agriculture Research and Innovation

National Innovation Day was February 16th this year. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) directly contributes to America’s agriculture research and innovation, ultimately benefiting our farmers, ranchers, and foresters. Through an integrated approach of research, education, and Cooperative Extension (extension) – and strong collaboration with our grantees, partners, stakeholders, other Federal agencies, and Congress – NIFA ensures that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice. Most of NIFA’s programs contribute to America’s agricultural research and innovation, including NIFA’s flagship competitive grants program, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), and the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant program.

Scientific Discoveries Impact Our Everyday Lives

Every day, some 2,000 ARS scientists go to work at over 90 research locations across the United States and abroad. Their job? To deliver scientific and innovative solutions to agricultural challenges affecting our Nation. As part of that job, ARS scientists frequently collaborate with research partners from universities, companies, organizations and even other countries.

REE Gives the Gift of Agricultural Research and Innovation in 2018

Like many of you, I bask in the excitement of the holidays—wrapping gifts, planning holiday dinners, and spending time with loved ones. However, this month also means the end of the year is near, ushering in a time of reflection and anticipation. In USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area, this time of year serves as neither a beginning nor an end. For us, it is a continuation of the scientific research needed to solve the agricultural challenges ahead.

Reflecting on One Year of Innovation at Rural Development

Last year, Secretary Perdue created the Rural Development Innovation Center, a team devoted to partnership development, regulatory reform, data analysis, and risk management. With a mission of coordinating resources and providing creative solutions for our rural customer, the Innovation Center is designed to hard wire innovation into our program delivery. In recognition of the Innovation Center’s first anniversary, I’d like to share a few reflections on a year of transformation in Rural Development through innovation.

Environmental Markets Help Improve Water Quality

Environmental trading markets are springing up across the nation with goals of facilitating the buying and selling of ecosystem services and helping more private landowners get conservation on the ground.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy joined Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in December 2014 to announce the state’s first trade under its nutrient trading program for stormwater.

Challenge Competition Brings Together Designers, Coders and Government for Innovation

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) teamed up with techies across the nation to strengthen the integrity and improve the user experience of the National School Lunch Program application.  On December 1, 2015, we launched a public “hackathon” contest – the E.A.T. (Electronic Application Transformation) School Lunch U.X. Challenge – to tap into this country’s greatest resource: its people.

Designers and coders have been working furiously to develop a forward-thinking, web-based application for the school meal programs that would revolutionize the way households apply for free and reduced price meals.  Nearly 50 individuals, teams and organizations submitted electronic application prototypes, and a panel of five expert judges took to the task of selecting the winners.