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Using the World's Oldest Apple Trees to Supply New Ones

Considering the many different types of apples we see at farmers markets and supermarkets, it may be hard to believe that apple trees are not as diverse as they should be. But it isn’t the fruit-bearing part of the apple tree that’s the problem, it’s the apple tree’s rootstock.

Most of today’s commercially produced apples are from trees that were bred in two parts—the fruit-bearing scion that makes up the higher branches and tree tops, and the rootstock that forms the roots and lower trunk.

USDA Supporting the National Native Seed Strategy

The use of native plant material in conservation, restoration and land management results in healthy ecosystems countering the effects of invasive plant species, altered wildfire regimes, extreme weather events and human-caused events. The National Seed Strategy for Rehabilitation and Restoration 2015-2020 (PDF, 12MB) promotes the use of native plant materials to restore plant communities and support healthy ecosystems. The National Seed Strategy, a collaboration between 12 federal agencies and over 300 non-federal partners associated with the Plant Conservation Alliance and led by the Bureau of Land Management, facilitates coordination among tribal, state, federal, local and private entities, including commercial growers.

Celebrating International School Meals Day 2017

Just like reading, writing and arithmetic, making healthy food choices is a learned behavior. And as with those vital academic skills, schools also play an important role in helping students build a healthy foundation for their lives through sound nutrition – not just here in the U.S. but in schools around the world.

International School Meals Day, held on March 9 this year, provides a wonderful opportunity to highlight that fact by raising awareness of nutritious school meals and their importance to the health of our kids. In fact, nearly every country provides some form of school meal for about 368 million children each school day worldwide, including more than 30 million children here in the U.S. through USDA’s National School Lunch Program. And International School Meals Day brings the world a little closer, helping kids understand the importance of healthy nutrition to a healthy future.

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Kelly Stange

Every month, USDA shares the story of a woman in agriculture who is leading the industry and helping other women succeed along the way. In honor of International Women’s Day, today we hear from Kelly Stange, an Agricultural Counselor for Germany, Austria, Hungary & Slovenia with USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service who started her career on a Missouri family dairy farm and working in University Extension.

To learn more and connect with other women leaders in agriculture across the country, we encourage you to visit https://newfarmers.usda.gov/women-in-ag. If there is a leading woman in agriculture you’d like to see on the blog, please send us your suggestions at AgWomenLead@usda.gov.

Celebrating School Breakfast Week: Giving Students a Great Start to Their School Day!

Did you skip breakfast today? Remember that feeling of discomfort and distraction as you counted down the time until lunch? Staring at the clock, the minutes just didn’t move fast enough. Now imagine yourself as a child, with a packed morning full of writing, thinking and learning in front of you – no way will you be at your best!

A Complete Redesign with You in Mind

We're excited to launch a complete redesign of USDA.gov featuring stronger visual storytelling components, a more modern user-experience with easy to find services and resources, and to top it off, a completely mobile-friendly design. 

Drought Conditions at Lowest Point since Autumn 2010

Nationally, we are seeing extreme to exceptional (D3 to D4) drought conditions fall to their lowest point in more than 6 years. Nowhere is that change more dramatic than in California. The current (February 21, 2017) Drought Monitor for California notes the disappearance of D3/D4 from California. At the California drought’s peak from August-October 2014, that percentage was nearly 82 percent. As recently as early-December 2016, coverage of D3/D4 in California stood at 43 percent.

U.S. Agricultural Production Systems of the Future: What Research is Needed Now?

Depending on where you live in the United States, the first thing that likely comes to mind for agriculture production systems are the large fields of corn, soybeans, wheat or cotton seen growing each summer. But spend a few minutes looking at CropScape, a color-coded map that charts where almost a hundred different types of U.S. crops are grown currently, and you begin to appreciate the diversity and regionality of production systems. This map shows that although there are U.S. regions where crop production is dominated by a few commodity crops, there are others where U.S. farmers are growing a wide array of fruit, vegetables, and other “specialty” crops. Agricultural Atlas maps produced by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service show similar diversity in livestock production, including land in pasture and range production.

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Kristina Fast

Every month, USDA shares the story of a woman in agriculture who is leading the industry and helping other women succeed along the way. This month, we hear from Kristina Fast, a civil servant with USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Minnesota. To learn more and connect with other women leaders in agriculture across the country, we encourage you to visit https://newfarmers.usda.gov/women-in-ag. If there is a leading woman in agriculture you’d like to see on the blog, please send us your suggestions at AgWomenLead@usda.gov.