The National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation recently released animal germplasm from its collection for the first time, to researchers with the University of Missouri-Columbia. The Missouri scientists received semen samples from three Holstein bulls. Holsteins are the main breed of dairy cows raised in the United States. The researchers are trying to identify genes associated with milk production and specifically requested these samples from bulls born in 1957, 1964 and 1972.

A new study by Agricultural Research Service scientists in Beltsville, Md., may have some surprising news for consumers: Many single-serving sized food products provide more food than is advertised. However, this is not necessarily good news for many Americans.

People who eat at least three or more servings of whole-grain foods each day may lessen their chances of developing “metabolic syndrome,” according to a study funded by the Agricultural Research Service. Metabolic syndrome is a condition marked by a combination of abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, poor blood sugar control, low HDL “good” cholesterol and high blood fats. The constellation of health conditions increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

An organic crop rotation is at least as sustainable as no-till farming or chisel tillage in terms of nitrogen loss and corn yields, according to an Agricultural Research Service study.

How many kernels of wheat in a pound? Anywhere from 14,000 to 17,000.

It is reported that more than 87 percent of America's farmers own cell phones.

On average, agriculture uses about 43 percent of the state's available water.

Forty-five percent of American adults eat Asian foods at least once a month. Thai food is the fastest-growing segment of international cuisine. For a wine to compliment the textures and complex interplay of salt, sweet and sour flavors, a “quiet” reisling, sauvignon blanc or cabernet works well.

Alfalfa got its name from the Persian word for horsepower.

Farmers make about a nickel or less from each loaf of bread.

The 1.5 million Americans who are allergic to peanuts may someday have an allergen-free peanut they can enjoy.

A form of vitamin D, discovered in laboratory studies by an ARS researcher, may help fight cancer.

One apple tree can produce enough apples to fill 20 boxes every year.

Imagine having 144 guests for dinner. And breakfast. And lunch. For one whole year! And you have to dress them, too. A tall order for anyone. Anyone, that is, except one of California's farmers. They're so productive that each one produces enough food and fiber to feed and clothe 144 people around the world for a year. Farmers have become increasingly more productive since 1940, when each American farmer produced enough food to feed and clothe 19 people.

Raisins retain all the nutrition of the original grape, but weigh less than a fourth as much. This makes raisins the perfect food to pack in school lunches. In fact, raisins are so nutritious and so easy to carry, that Hannibal fed them to his troops while they were crossing the Alps.

Next time you're inclined to complain about your grocery bill, remember this: The same bag of groceries that costs $18.79 in the U.S., costs $74.23 in Japan. That bag includes 1 gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, 5 pounds of cheese, a 2-pound sirloin steak and 2 pounds of apples.

More ice cream is eaten during July and August than at any other time of the year.

Of every dollar spent on food, at home and away, farmers and ranchers earn only 19 cents, 12 cents less than in 1980.

In the last 35 years, agriculture's use of water has declined. During the same period, farmers boosted crop production in tonnage by 67 percent.

What's a wattle? It's two things. One is that red thing that hangs down on a turkey's neck. The other is a long, cylindrical tube of netting filled with rice straw that is staked down along roadways and construction sites to prevent soil erosion.

A one-time tillage will not cause great soil carbon loss, even though major damage is caused to soil structure.

That's the finding of Lloyd Owens, a soil scientist with the Agricultural Research Service in Coshocton, Ohio, after a study comparing soil carbon in the top foot of soil under a meadow with the carbon level in soil under cornfields with various levels of tillage. He found that it takes a few years of continual annual plowing before carbon losses become noticeable in fields previously unplowed for years.