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Deadline Approaches for Producers to Sign Up for the Conservation Reserve Program

Photo of a steam bank enrolled in CCRP in Crook County, Wyoming.

Photo of a steam bank enrolled in CCRP in Crook County, Wyoming.

Producers interested in offering land in an effort to protect millions of acres of topsoil from erosion and improve the nation’s natural resources, have until Friday, April 15, to do so. This is the second consecutive year that USDA has offered a general Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign-up. Read more »

USDA Rural Development Programs Making a Big Impact in Western Iowa

On Friday, April 8th I had the opportunity to see first-hand the many ways USDA Rural Development programs are improving the lives of rural Americans when I visited a variety of USDA-funded projects in Anita, Logan and Woodbine in western Iowa.

In Anita, I met Duane Murphy, the local fire chief and all-around community champion.  He told me how the grant we are giving his community to assist with the purchase of a new fire truck will help keep the local residents safe. He also mentioned how his department will now be better equipped to provide rescue services to travelers along Interstate 80 and visitors to Lake Anita State Park. Read more »

Tick Riders: The Cornerstone of USDA’s Cattle Fever Tick Program

Recently I had the opportunity to travel to south Texas to learn first-hand about our Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program.

USDA has successfully eradicated cattle fever in the U.S.  Only a permanent quarantine buffer zone remains in south Texas, which spans 500 miles from Del Rio to Brownsville.  The ticks and disease remain well-established in Mexico, so the buffer zone is necessary to keep U.S. cattle free of cattle fever by preventing the re-establishment of the ticks. Read more »

Redesigning USDA Online

You may have noticed a fresh, new look on USDA.gov last night – we’re excited to announce the launch of our redesigned website!  Our redesign team has been hard at work designing a new look and feel that should make navigating our site more user-friendly and intuitive.  In support of our One USDA approach, we strive to provide a consistent, high value online experience that focuses on our users’ top tasks and requests.  One USDA unifies our mission areas and offices to provide all of our stakeholders with a cutting-edge experience that empowers education, decision-making and action.

Not only did One USDA inspire the design of our new website, it also describes the collaborative redesign process.  Using only in-house expertise and resources, the collaborative effort was led by our Web Communications Division and agency web professionals who contributed to the information architecture and design elements, a significant cost savings for the Department. Read more »

Earth Team—Getting Conservation on the Ground

When landowners have resource problems, they turn to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and our conservation partners. And when NRCS has challenges, we often turn to our Earth Team volunteers for help. Our more than 30,000 volunteers assist us with conservation planning and technical consultation, outreach and communications, clerical services and hundreds of other tasks.

This is National Volunteer Week and it is the perfect time to recognize our Earth Team volunteers. They do a lot for this agency and our national landscape: They work shoulder-to-shoulder with our conservationists, partners and technicians. They make us a more productive and effective agency and they help create a climate where private lands conservation can continue to succeed. Read more »

USDA Forest Service’s Fuels for Schools program Turns Biomass into Energy

The USDA Forest Service’s Fuels for Schools and Beyond program promotes and encourages the use biomass to energy as a renewable and natural resource.

Recently the U.S. Forest Service recognized the Darby School District in Montana for success in the Fuels for Schools Program for their innovation, cost savings and energy efficiency and in particular Darby High School’s biomass system. It’s part of a pilot program funded by a grant from the Forest Service’s National Fire Plan. In 2003, the Darby School District was the first in the state to have a biomass system. Read more »