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Bird Flu Is a Reminder For Back Yard Poultry Owners to Protect Their Birds By Practicing Good Biosecurity

Dr. Wood on set with Healthy Harry taping new biosecurity videos.

Dr. Wood on set with Healthy Harry taping new biosecurity videos.

Since December 2014, there have been several highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) confirmations in migratory wild birds, back yard flocks, captive wild birds and commercial poultry in several states along the Pacific, Mississippi and Central Flyways.  These HPAI virus strains can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick.  In fact, if back yard poultry flocks are exposed to these particular HPAI virus strains, they are highly contagious and cause bird death.  We are expecting that there will be more HPAI confirmations this spring as the bird migrations continue, so if you own or handle poultry, now is a great time to check your biosecurity practices.  You should follow good biosecurity at all times to help protect the birds’ health.  Your actions can make a difference!  Learn more here:  http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov

As part of good biosecurity, you should prevent contact between your birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through the state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number: 1-866-536-7593.  You also should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.   You are the best protection your birds have!  Learn more here:  http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov Read more »

USDA Team Nutrition Grants Promote Healthier Meals for Our Nation’s Schoolchildren

Schools are successfully serving more nutritious meals to America’s students, and healthier meals mean healthier kids. USDA is constantly working to do everything we can to support school nutrition professionals as they work to provide kids the nutrition they need to learn and develop into healthy adults. To further assist schools, USDA announced the availability of up to $5.5 million in Team Nutrition training grants for states for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. These grants focus on the implementation of Smarter Lunchrooms – an innovative strategy using behavioral economics to encourage healthy eating in the cafeteria – as well as the healthier meal standards, HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC), USDA Foods, nutrition education, and wellness activities in schools and child care institutions. To apply for the grants, state agencies should visit www.grants.gov.

Here are some examples of how Team Nutrition grants have helped schools in the past: Read more »

#WomeninAg in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska

Participants network at the fourth annual Women in Agriculture – Women, Farms & Food Conference. This year’s theme was “Put Your Best Foot Forward.”

Participants network at the fourth annual Women in Agriculture – Women, Farms & Food Conference. This year’s theme was “Put Your Best Foot Forward.”

Throughout March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been highlighting inspiring women in agriculture as part of National Women’s History Month.

Recently, I participated in the fourth annual Women in Agriculture – Women, Farms & Food Conference. This year’s theme was “Put Your Best Foot Forward.” During the one-day virtual gathering,  more than 650 women across Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington State were linked via satellite in 28 locations.   This enabled women from all walks of life and every sector of the agriculture supply chain to empower one another. Read more »

How Does Wildlife Respond When Forest Management Helps to Reduce Wildfire Risk?

Deer mice and chipmunks were among the dominant small mammals in the study area and were mostly unaffected by the fuel reduction treatments. (Photo by David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org)

Deer mice and chipmunks were among the dominant small mammals in the study area and were mostly unaffected by the fuel reduction treatments. (Photo by David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org)

Forest managers in the western United States often face difficult choices when it comes to reducing wildfire hazards while also maintaining wildlife habitat in forests that have changed dramatically in the last century.

The U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station and partners are working to find the balance between forest restoration and habitat conservation in a new era of forest management. Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Dr. Jewel Hairston

Dr. Jewel Hairston is Dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University (VSU). As Dean, she leads in developing the strategic vision and plan for the college and develops and fosters partnership with other universities, as well as local, state and federal agencies and organizations across Virginia to offer competitive educational programs to students and diverse stakeholders.

Dr. Jewel Hairston is Dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University (VSU). As Dean, she leads in developing the strategic vision and plan for the college and develops and fosters partnership with other universities, as well as local, state and federal agencies and organizations across Virginia to offer competitive educational programs to students and diverse stakeholders.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are taking a moment to talk with prominent women in agriculture about their lives, their ideas about leadership, and how their day gets off to a good start.

Dr. Jewel Hairston is currently the Dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University. As Dean, she leads in developing the strategic vision and plan for the college and develops and fosters partnership with other universities, as well as local, state and federal agencies and organizations across the state of Virginia to offer competitive educational programs to students and diverse stakeholders. Read more »

Conifer Forum Arms Bi-state Sage-Grouse Supporters with Tools to Tackle Encroachment

An aerial view of mastication efforts to remove pinyon and juniper trees encroaching in bi-state sage grouse habitat on a Smith Valley rancher’s Bureau of Land Management grazing allotment, east of Minden, Nevada. The pinyon and juniper removal is part of an NRCS Sage Grouse Initiative project near the Conifer Forum field tour location. (Photo courtesy NRCS)

An aerial view of mastication efforts to remove pinyon and juniper trees encroaching in bi-state sage grouse habitat on a Smith Valley rancher’s Bureau of Land Management grazing allotment, east of Minden, Nevada. The pinyon and juniper removal is part of an NRCS Sage Grouse Initiative project near the Conifer Forum field tour location. (Photo courtesy NRCS)

Bi-state sage-grouse, a geographically distinct population of small game bird that lives along the border of Nevada and California, rely on a healthy sagebrush ecosystem. One of the largest habitat threats to the sage-grouse is the encroachment of pinyon and juniper trees.

Once pinyon and juniper trees move into a sagebrush-steppe area, they act simultaneously like straws and umbrellas — sucking out what little water hits the soil, while providing a canopy to catch rainfall so little moisture reaches the plants and shrubs below the trees. Little by little, the trees can close in on an area, squeezing out precious habitat for the sage-grouse. They also deter sage-grouse from landing in the area, as the birds are frightful of these tall, foreign objects that interrupt their flight path and provide a perch for predators. Read more »