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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Treating stable flies in pastures

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are developing strategies to help livestock producers control stable flies, the most damaging arthropod pests of cattle in the United States.

dateJan 02, 2013 in Other
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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 ...

dateJan 25, 2013 in Ecology
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Drainage ditches can help clean up field runoff

Vegetated drainage ditches can help capture pesticide and nutrient loads in field runoff, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists report. These ditches—as common in the country as the fields they drain—give farmers ...

dateJan 04, 2013 in Environment
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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 ...

dateFeb 06, 2013 in Ecology
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Combating USDA's top-ranked invasive insect

First detected in the United States a decade ago, the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is now in at least 39 states, is wreaking havoc in homes and gardens, and is a major economic threat to orchard fruits, garden vegetables ...

dateJan 07, 2013 in Ecology
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