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Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Farmers

This week young people across the country are celebrating FFA Week.  During this time, members of Future Farmers of America (FFA) get a chance to educate the public about agriculture, but also to learn more about the industry themselves. In January, in his State of the Union address, President Obama focused on the importance of providing a world-class education to all American youth.  He called on us to out-educate our global competitors so that we keep great jobs here and strengthen the American economy in the long-term. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack says American Agriculture is a Safe Bet

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks with Agricultural Outlook Board Forum Student Program Winners at the WAOB Forum held in Arlington, VA, on Thursday, February 24, 2011. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks with Agricultural Outlook Board Forum Student Program Winners at the WAOB Forum held in Arlington, VA, on Thursday, February 24, 2011. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

“The safest bet in America is American agriculture!” That’s the way Secretary Tom Vilsack led off his remarks to the 2,000 farmers, ranchers, agriculture officials and industry leaders in attendance at today’s Agricultural Outlook Forum in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Read more »

Forest Service Continues its Support of Minority Landowners

The U.S. Forest Service is helping Minority Landowner Magazine celebrate its 5th anniversary with a conference in support of minority farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.

Minority Landowner will convene the conference Feb. 24-26 in Raleigh, N.C., with some 300 farmers and landowners from across the country. Through a facilitative process of four concurrent breakout sessions, and small group interactive discussion, farmers, ranchers and forest landowners will design an intervention program to help save family farms. Read more »

Climate Change, “Up Close and Personal”

Remember the good old days when you only got the “spring sniffles” for a few weeks as the new leaves began sprouting on the trees?  And doesn’t it seem like now, for some reason, you’re taking your antihistamine almost as often as you take your multi-vitamin?  That’s not your imagination; that’s climate change at work.

A USDA scientist and his collaborators have proven that ragweed pollen in some parts of the northern United States and Canada now hangs around almost a month longer than it did as recently as 1995.  The researchers’ results show those increases are correlated to seasonal warming shifts linked to climate change dynamics in the higher latitudes. Read more »

Thanks to USDA Support, Recovery Act Support, a Georgia Hospital Receives a New Digital Mammography System

Recently, Evans Memorial Hospital in Claxton, Georgia, received $200,000 in Recovery Act loan and grant funds to purchase a state-of-the-art digital mammography system. “This equipment will provide better imaging and allow for more accurate diagnostics,” said Donnie Thomas, acting Georgia Rural Development state director. “Providing reliable health care is a priority in rural areas.”

Funds were provided through USDA Rural Development’s Community Facility Programs, which are designed to improve the quality of life in rural communities. The $100,000 loan is repayable at 4 percent over 10 years. “This equipment will save lives,” Thomas said. “Keeping medical equipment current can be a big expense, but the benefit far outweighs the cost.” Read more »

USDA Rural Development Telehealth Funding Serves a Sparsely-Populated Four-State Area

In rural America, especially in frontier regions of South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska the shortage of health care professionals tends to be pronounced. For example, 55 of South Dakota’s 66 counties, or 83 percent of all counties, are designated Primary Care Health Professional Shortage areas. There are even greater disparities in South Dakota rural areas regarding access to specialists. USDA Rural Development grants to Avera Regional Health System have been instrumental in developing and expanding telehealth services cost effectively to the smallest and most underserved hospitals and communities. Read more »