ICYMI: Food and Ag Science Will Shape Our Future #USDAResults - Chapter 11

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USDA Agriculture Research Service chemist Ulrich Bernier tests a permethrin treated uniform to see whether it prevents mosquitoes from biting.

Food and Ag Science Will Shape Our Future #USDAResults • Chapter 11


Throughout the month of November, USDA has underscored the tremendous impact research has in improving the life of America’s rural communities. Though many do not associate USDA with cutting-edge science or discovery, it is the world’s largest force in agricultural research.

This enormous potential for agricultural science was once again on display in this year’s Technology Transfer Report detailing USDA-funded research discoveries and innovations. The report highlights USDA scientific investments that have resulted in real-world commercial opportunities to support job creation, economic growth and improve the lives of all Americans and families around the world.

The report highlights 222 new inventions disclosed, 125 patent applications filed, 94 patents awarded and 424 active licenses to businesses working to meet a wide range challenges from food safety, plant, animal and human health, to renewable and bio-energy, climate adaptation and cultivation. Some interesting highlights from the 2015 report include:

  • A bio-refinery that turned a city landfill into an "energy park"
  • Computer chips made from wood fiber
  • Mosquito-resistant uniforms for U.S. military personnel
  • A new biological control agent to combat a major citrus disease
  • An on-line climate and weather tool to better manage farm pests and plant diseases
  • Cost-effective solar-powered irrigation pumps for remote communities
  • Flu eradication through genome editing in pigs
  • Bacteria repellant cooking pan surfaces
  • Robotic apple pickers
  • Affordable tornado-safe rooms
  • Virus-based fire ant control

To see the full report as well as look at previous USDA research and discoveries, visit our website.

USDA stands at the forefront of scientific research and development by remaining committed to research that empowers farmers. We invite you to catch up on Chapter XI on our Medium site and follow along on the USDA blog and by using #USDAResults.

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The week in pictures

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree being hoisted from a very long tractor trailer

You know Christmas is right around the corner when images of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree being hoisted from a very long tractor trailer show up on your social media apps and on TV. An ongoing American tradition since 1964, this year, the great tree called fondly by its fans “An Idaho Mountain Gem,” comes from the Payette National Forest near McCall, Idaho.


USDA Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Director Norah Deluhery eats lunch with kids

USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day, whether they realize it or not. Faith-based and community partners have been especially helpful in reaching our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.


Virginia farmers harvest their corn.

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service is conducting the December Agricultural Survey and the County Agricultural Production Survey for row crops to collect important data from producers about their harvest, yield and production.


USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) microbiologist Monifa Peterson demonstrates the addition of reagents for an E. coli non-O157:H7 analysis.

Scientists from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) work for one of the federal agencies that conducts research to help make the foods we eat safer. The department’s National Agricultural Library’s Food Safety Research Information Office (FSRIO) has launched a new “Meet the Experts” online video collection available on the NAL website.


The USDA FoodKeeper app provides information about how to store food safely.

The FSIS FoodKeeper app is an easy way for consumers to keep their food safe by providing valuable advice on storing foods and beverages to maximize freshness and minimize food waste. The app is available for Android and Apple devices.

On the USDA blog

Farm to School Efforts Positively Impact Tribal Communities
An ancient belief held by tribal communities is that the soil is cared for by Mother Earth, the nurturer and the protector of the land. This idea speaks to the importance of farm to school efforts in tribal communities. And many tribal communities are reconnecting children with their rich history and cultures by establishing farm to school programs.

SNAP Employment and Training (E&T): USDA Study Finds Skills, Credentials Critical to Helping SNAP Participants Find Jobs
The vast majority of jobs in the future will require some level of education beyond high school. Unfortunately, these jobs are out of reach for the majority of SNAP participants, who often lack the skills they need to compete in today’s job market. To combat this challenge, USDA offers the SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program.

Research in Energy Security Helps Lead to Food Security in West Africa
Research shows the majority of people in Africa depend on biomass to meet their energy needs and such high dependency makes families vulnerable to unexpected and sudden changes. A project funded through the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Cochran Fellowship Program on “Biofuels for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods,” hosted by the University of Missouri (MU) College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources International Programs, set out to address this very issue.

Helping Farmers Adapt to Extreme Weather and a Changing Climate
Changes in climate and more extreme weather are already increasing challenges for agriculture and natural resource managers nationally and globally. Many of these challenges are expected to continue into the future.

Nanostructured Biosensors Detect Pesticide, Help Preserve Environment
When does too much of a good thing become a bad thing? That’s the question Dr. Jonathan Claussen, assistant professor at Iowa State University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and his team of researchers aim to help farmers answer when it comes to pesticide use. Underuse can harm farmers’ crops, while overuse can result in runoff into the soil or waterways.

Southern Landowners Want to Help At-Risk Wildlife Species
Amid rising numbers of at-risk wildlife in the South, a new report from the American Forest Foundation (AFF) revealed private and family landowners in the South offer a solution to help at-risk wildlife species.

Find Your Town, a New Tool Promoting Small Towns from the White House Opportunity Project
Charming, historic, cozy, vibrant, quaint and fun. Small towns and rural places hold a special place in our vision of America. They offer residents a unique and often genial place to live. That is why we are helping to launch Findyour.town.

100 Strong: Rural Impact County Challenge Achieves Goal
In April, the White House Rural Council partnered with the National Association of Counties to announce the Rural Impact County Challenge, a call for at least 100 counties to pledge to create opportunity for children in rural areas. On October 25, we achieved this goal.

Hacking Away at Common Agricultural Issues
Hackathons aim to solve real problems and USDA, along with the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and the California State Fair, hosted a competitive one this past July.

Distance Learning and Telemedicine projects
Some of the best stories about successful rural health projects are often from those who offer medical services, or those who benefit from those services.


Reflection and Appreciation from the Agriculture Secretary

The Agriculture Secretary expresses his appreciation for his family, friends, colleagues, staff, and the position he has served over the last eight years. (Rod Bain and Secretary Tom Vilsack)

Read about us in the news

Vilsack, citing love for fellow workers, unveils portrait at USDA (Agri Pulse)
Tom Vilsack, the 30th agriculture secretary, today unveiled his portrait which will be hung among his predecessors on the walls of USDA's headquarters in Washington. During an emotional ceremony, attended by several lawmakers and former ag secretaries, Vilsack teared up as he came to the end of his speech and thanked his wife, Christie Vilsack, for her support over the past eight years. Vilsack isn't leaving his post yet, but the ceremony turned into a goodbye speech after the former Iowa governor was lauded by people like Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers of America.

Vilsack Sees Hope in Latest Farm Income Forecast (Hoosier Ag Today)
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the Farm Income and Financial Forecasts for 2016 shows the health of the overall farm economy is strong in the face of challenging markets. Released by the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service, the report shows final income for 2016 is expected to decline after dropping in 2015 following record highs between 2012 and 2014. Net cash farm income is forecast at $90.1 billion and net farm income at $66.9 billion for 2016. Net cash farm income is expected to fall by 14.6 percent in 2016, while net farm income is forecast to decline by 17.2 percent.

USDA announces 3 Food LINC partnerships (Farm Futures)
USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Lillian Salerno announced three new public-private partnerships that will create economic opportunities in Elgin, Texas; Fresno, Calif.; and Chicago. The Food LINC partnerships will help community leaders and private philanthropic partners develop regional food supply chains that drive job growth and increase farm income while helping to meet consumer demand for regionally produced food.

USDA NIFA awards $6.7 million in agroecosystem research grants (Farm Futures)
USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced 18 grants totaling more than $6.7 million for research to discover how components of the agroecosystem from soil, water and sun to plants, animals and people, interact with and affect food production. These awards are made through NIFA's Bioenergy and Natural Resources Program, Agroecosystem priority area of the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). "Population growth, along with environmental factors, including the growing threat of climate change, are putting increasing demand on the land, water and other resources that produce our food," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "These investments will help us understand how we can farm more effectively and sustainably to feed the growing global population."

Vilsack: The Importance of the Affordable Care Act for Rural America (Scottsbluff Herald)
National Rural Health Day brings attention to the unique challenges and opportunities for health and well-being in rural communities. As we recognize these challenges and celebrate the gains we have made in improving health in rural America, I want to remind individuals and families in rural areas that the healthcare Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment period is happening now, and affordable healthcare coverage is available on HealthCare.gov.

USDA Investments Make Hundreds of Inventions (NBC 13)
Every year, the USDA invests money into research and science of agriculture. In 2015, investments made 222 inventions, 94 patents, and 125 new patent applications. That's according to the USDA Annual Report on technology transfer, which includes ag related discoveries, inventions and processes made by USDA researchers, universities, and small businesses.

USDA expands working-lands conservation opportunities through CRP (High Plains Journal)
Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Deputy Undersecretary Alexis Taylor announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will offer a new Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands practice specifically tailored for small-scale livestock grazing operations. Small livestock operations with 100 or fewer head of grazing dairy cows (or the equivalent) can submit applications to enroll up to 200 acres of grasslands per farm. USDA’s goal is to enroll up to 200,000 acres.

Q&A With Tom Vilsack: We Should Expect More of Our Government (Daily Yonder)
Vilsack is accustomed to being the voice of rural America for the Obama administration. In this case, he stepped in to promote a signature program of the administration, but one that USDA has no direct authority for. Vilsack has been the administration’s designated “rural guy,” though he would never put it in such terms. He’s the only Cabinet member who has served the entirety of President Obama’s term, and he’s the head of the department with the largest rural portfolio, though there are many rural programs within other departments.

Vilsack awards $45 million in grants for agricultural producers, small rural businesses (High Plains Journal)
Agriculture Secretary On Oct. 27 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA is providing more than $45 million to help farmers, ranchers, small businesses and entrepreneurs nationwide develop new product lines. USDA is investing in 325 projects through the Value-Added Producer Grant program.

Vilsack says farm income is okay over five years (Norfolk Daily News)
The head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the last eight years says he and his staff have left the department in better shape than they found it. Speaking last week at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters Convention in Kansas City, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said there’s a tendency to focus on one year at a time in terms of farm income, but that it is – in his words – instructive to think the way farmers think.

Vilsack on “Total Savings” Through Obamacare (Brownfield Ag News)
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says there are more than 2-and-a-Half million uninsured people in rural America who are potentially eligible for market place coverage under Obamacare (Affordable Care Act). He says that’s one way to bring expanding premium costs down, if more people sign up at “health care dot gov” Enrollment is underway for 2017.

883 patent applications filed ✔ 405 patents issued ✔ 1,151 new inventions disclosures ✔ #USDAResults →


A little Monday a.m. cheer: Secretary Vilsack chooses a holiday tree with his grandson Cassin + family in beautiful Pike National Forest. 🎄


A dazzling gem from Idaho arrives on Capitol Hill http://ow.ly/y6dJ306IQJz


.@usda Sec. Tom Vilsack. Thank you for your outstanding efforts for rural America & your support of NIFA & LGUs. ^SR