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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Beneficial mold packaged in bioplastic

(Phys.org)—Aflatoxins are highly toxic carcinogens produced by several species of Aspergillus fungi. But not all Aspergillus produce aflatoxin. Some, in fact, are considered beneficial. One such strain, dubbed K49, is now ...

dateOct 19, 2012 in Biotechnology
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Minimizing mining damage with manure

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research confirms that the time-tested practice of amending crop soils with manure also can help restore soils on damaged post-mining landscapes.

dateOct 26, 2012 in Environment
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Stopping flies before they mature

An insect growth regulator is one of the latest technologies U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are adding to their arsenal to help fight house flies that spread bacteria to food.

dateNov 26, 2012 in Plants & Animals
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