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.

Website
http://www.usda.gov/
Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_Agriculture

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Making butter-like spreads healthier

A dollop of margarine or spread can go a long way to livening up a slice of toast, a piping hot ear of corn or other food. But that enhanced flavor can also come with a side helping of worry over consuming saturated fats, ...

Advances in predicting the locations of Great Basin wildfires

Scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the University of Montana have developed a way to forecast which of the Great Basin's more than 60 million acres have the highest ...

USDA-ARS releases genome of the voracious desert locust

The first high-quality genome of the desert locust—those voracious feeders of plague and devastation infamy and the most destructive migratory insect in the world—has been produced by U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural ...

Collecting a library of bee genomes

The USDA Agricultural Research Service is leading a project dubbed "Beenome100" to produce high-quality maps of the genomes of at least 100 bee species, capturing the diversity of bees in the United States, representing each ...

Winter honey bees show resistance to a common insecticide

Winter honey bees, compared to newly emerged summer bees, have a better ability to withstand the harmful effects of a widely-used insecticide in pest management, according to a recent study published in Apidologie.

Newly discovered protein in fungus bypasses plant defenses

A protein that allows the fungus which causes white mold stem rot in more than 600 plant species to overcome plant defenses has been identified by a team of U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service and ...

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