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Research And Science

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.

New and Beginning Farmers: The Future of American Agriculture

A snapshot of the next generation of young men and women realizing their dreams of becoming full- or part-time farmers reveals challenging opportunities. Some young farmers, like Hank Huffman – a 25-year-old farmer from rural eastern North Carolina – have gleaned great experiences from the generations of farmers before them. Hank, bolstered by the experience and wisdom imparted to him by his father, grandfather, and great grandfather, is now making his mark on the field of agriculture. He is a fourth-generation farmer growing corn and soybeans, and producing poultry and cattle on 130 acres. Born and bred on the pride and encouragement of the Future Farmers of America, better known as the National FFA Organization, he is living his “American Dream.”

Automation Helps Solve Specialty Crop Challenges

With support from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Multistate Research Fund, researchers at 17 land-grant universities are working together to develop automated systems that work well for labor-intensive specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery plants. A multi-state collaborative approach lifts the burden of research and development from a single specialty crop sector and spurs major advances.

Value-Added Ag Products Help Home Cooks and Bakers Experiment in the Kitchen

In recent months, people around the world have found new ways to spend time at home. Many Americans have picked up hobbies like arts and crafts, working out, and – of course – cooking and baking. You may not know that many popular recipes feature value-added products. A value-added product is one that has had a change in its original physical state or form – such as milling wheat into flour and making fruit into jam. The method of production (organic, for example) and the way it is marketed can also enhance value. According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, 33,523 farms produced value-added products in 2017, totaling $4.04 billion in sales.

The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and Automation Explored

U.S. specialty crop producers face a variety of challenges that require a diverse set of solutions. From labor shortages and rising production costs that threatened the health of Florida’s strawberry industry to water supply challenges that stymied North Dakota’s vegetable yields, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) has helped producers bring to life innovative ideas in automation.

Enjoy Those Strawberries Longer: PhylloLux Innovation Leads the Way

We’ve all enjoyed some delicious strawberries this summer, but a short-shelf life can limit that enjoyment. One of the biggest challenges in U.S. strawberry production is managing diseases and pests. The fungal pathogen Botrytis cinerea results in gray mold, or the unappetizing gray fuzz that can quickly appear on strawberries all too soon after we get them home. Growers typically apply fungicides on a weekly basis to control gray mold as well as other fungal diseases.