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Ag Research Extends Beyond Crop Fields into Forests

The word “agriculture” does not usually come to mind when one thinks of forests, but perhaps it’s time that it should.

“The forest products industry employs nearly 1 million people and contributes $254 billion to America’s economy through sales and payroll,” said Eric Norland, a national program leader at USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Students Helping to Shape School Lunches

What’s new with school lunch this year? In several school districts across the nation, this question is being answered by students themselves. Collaborations between school staff and students have resulted in school cafeterias that provide a welcoming environment for eating together, while offering healthy, appealing choices for their students. With the help of Team Nutrition Training Grant funds, many states have created these changes and developed ways to include kids in menu planning, taste tests, cafeteria makeovers and more.

Big Data Yields Big Opportunities in Agriculture

(NIFA is accepting proposals for conferences to identify opportunities and bottlenecks in generating, managing, and integrating data within the food and agricultural system. NIFA will also consider research proposals that apply or enhance big data activities and efforts. Applications submitted to the 2017 Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Foundational Program will be accepted through the deadlines as specified for specific program areas.)

We live in an age in which large volumes of information—“big data”—are generated and collected rapidly to add value to our daily lives. Industry has harnessed data to target advertising, tailor medical treatments, and even develop the technology and infrastructure that allows us to carry miniature computers in our pockets that will pause active functions to accept incoming phone calls.

Farm to School Grows with USDA Grants

Omar, the school garden club coordinator, instructs a group of seventh grade students to “pick an adult” and leads them to the greenhouse. The bright blue sky and expansive mountain range set a dramatic backdrop for the six raised beds and two greenhouses. Mona, a precocious 12 year-old student at Magdalena Middle School in New Mexico, wastes no time charging into the greenhouse and swiftly picking red leaf lettuce. She instructs me on proper harvest techniques while happily munching on Swiss chard, kale and lettuce straight from the garden – she clearly has no need for salad dressing.