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Research And Science

Bringing Technology to Specialty Crops

Each day we use technologies to solve problems and accomplish tasks that once would have taken much longer. Whether facial recognition software, a smart thermostat, or a robotic vacuum, technology has changed the way we live and work. Farmers are also using technology to make production of specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts, more efficient. These crops make up one third of U.S. crop production sales and one sixth of U.S. agricultural sales.

NIFA Impact: Research on Regulatory Policy Impacting Low-Moisture Food Safety

Nut products. Spices. Pet food. Breakfast cereals. Although most consumers would not expect these foods to contain harmful bacteria, all have been linked to nationwide outbreaks and recalls due to the presence of salmonella, which is the most frequently reported cause of food-related illness in the U.S. To better regulate the way foods are grown, harvested, and processed, the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act focuses on preventing food contamination rather than responding to foodborne-illness events.

Wrapping up Picnic Month

Summer is in full swing and, for many, that means it's time for a picnic. Whether you stay in your backyard or head to your favorite lookout spot, a picnic is always a good idea. If you didn’t feast outdoors in July during National Picnic Month, there’s still time to enjoy a great meal with nice weather and peaceful scenery.

Pollinators at a Crossroads

Bees and other pollinators, including birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, wasps, beetles, and small mammals, play a critical role in our food production system. A healthy pollinator population is vital to producing marketable commodities. More than 100 U.S. grown crops rely on pollinators. The added revenue to crop production from pollinators is valued at $18 billion. Pollinators also support healthy ecosystems needed for clean air, stable soils, and a diverse wildlife. That’s why USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) partners with the Land-Grant University System, U.S. government laboratories, and private and non-profit organizations to support research, education, and extension programs advancing pollinator health.

Protecting Pollinators from A New Threat – First-Ever U.S. Sightings of Asian Giant Hornet

It’s not the first time that European honey bees and other pollinators in the United States have encountered invasive pests, with the parasitic Varroa mite being the most noteworthy. For years, researchers and beekeepers have wondered what the next invasive pest of concern would be. Perhaps Tropilaelaps mites, a parasitic mite that feeds on bee brood? Or an Asian honey bee, which is known to outcompete our European honey bees? Ultimately, it was the Asian giant hornet, making a confirmed appearance in Washington state during winter of 2019.

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.

Florida Lab is on the Front Lines in Battle Against Invasive Species

Despite diligent inspection efforts, invasive species still enter our country, overrunning great areas and causing substantial damage. These non-native, exotic plant species threaten agriculture, forestry, and ecosystems by reducing crop yields, degrading water quality, and threatening biodiversity in altered habitats.

At the Heart of The Buckeye State

Ever wonder where Ohio’s nickname came from? Ohio is commonly referred to as “The Buckeye State” due to the prevalence of the Ohio Buckeye, named Ohio’s official state tree in the 1950s. According to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the name refers to the tree’s nuts and their resemblance to the eye of a deer. But don’t eat these nuts! NRCS warns that all parts of the Ohio Buckeye are toxic to humans and livestock. Luckily there are many other things we can eat that come out of this great state.