United States Department of Agriculture

The United States Department of Agriculture (informally the Agriculture Department or USDA) is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food. It aims to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers, promote agricultural trade and production, work to assure food safety, protect natural resources, foster rural communities and end hunger in the United States and abroad. The head of the department is the Secretary of Agriculture, who is a member of the Cabinet. The current Secretary is Tom Vilsack. Early in its history, the economy of the United States was largely agrarian. Officials in the federal government had long sought new and improved varieties of seeds, plants and animals for importation to the United States. In 1837 Henry Leavitt Ellsworth, a Yale-educated attorney interested in improving agriculture, became Commissioner of Patents, a position within the Department of State. He soon began collecting and distributing new varieties of seeds and plants through members of the Congress and agricultural societies.

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Chemical trickery explored to help contain potato pest

If left unchecked, the pale cyst nematode burrows into potato roots to feed, obstructing nutrients and causing stunted growth, wilted leaves and other symptoms that can eventually kill the plant. Now USDA and cooperating ...

Mar 18, 2013
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Understanding microbes blowing in the wind

With help from a wind tunnel and the latest DNA technology, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are shedding light on the travel patterns of microbes in soils carried off by strong winds. The work has implications ...

Feb 06, 2013
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Corn cobs eyed for bioenergy production

Corn crop residues are often left on harvested fields to protect soil quality, but they could become an important raw material in cellulosic ethanol production. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research indicates that ...

Jan 31, 2013
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With hot air treatment, bacteria fly the coop

Poultry producers can reduce bacterial cross-contamination in poultry cages by treating the cages with forced air that's been heated to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a study by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ...

Jan 28, 2013
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Fighting back against citrus greening

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in Fort Pierce, Fla. are helping citrus growers and juice processors address the threat posed by Huanglongbing (HLB), a disease that is costing the citrus industry millions ...

Jan 25, 2013
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