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Bringing the Beauty of U.S. Hardwood to Thailand

When most people think about what USDA exports to countries all over the world, food is the first thing that comes to mind. But did you know that the United States exported nearly $7 billion in forestry products in 2010? These exports allow for the beauty and sustainability of U.S. forests to be shared through home furnishings in every corner of the world, including Thailand.

The United States is currently the fourth largest exporter of hardwood lumber to Thailand, following Malaysia, Laos and Myanmar, and U.S. exports were valued at $21.3 million in 2010. In 2010, the total Thailand furniture export market was valued at nearly $1.2 billion out of which $589 million was wooden furniture. The market is ripe for U.S. hardwood as Thai furniture exporters and manufacturers are required to follow sustainable development policies. Importing products from the United States helps the country avoid the use of illegal forestry techniques and timber sources. Read more »

Pink Bollworm Rearing Facility Visit

As part of my recent trip to Arizona, I had the opportunity to meet with Arizona cotton producers, Arizona Department of Agriculture Director Don Butler, and APHIS personnel at the Pink Bollworm Rearing Facility in Phoenix.

I was absolutely impressed with the importance and quality of the work being done, and with the partnership between APHIS, Arizona Department of Agriculture, Arizona Cotton Research and Protection Council, and cotton growers.

The pink bollworm is a serious cotton pest, and APHIS is working cooperatively with producers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, as well as cotton growing areas in Mexico, to eradicate the pest. Read more »

Minnesota Couple Recognized by USDA for Years of Dedication to Affordable Rural Housing

In December of 2009 an apartment building owned by Rodney and Betty Hestekin sustained major damage in a fire. The building had been financed through USDA Rural Development’s Multi-Family Housing program. All 18 tenants living in the building were displaced.

Rodney and Betty immediately sprang into action. They worked with tenants to ensure that each found a temporary place to live. They also worked to make sure the building was repaired as quickly as possible so tenants could move back in and return to life as it was before the fire. Read more »

USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Visits Arkansas To Assess Damages and Discuss Available Assistance

Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager was in Marvell, Arkansas, on Friday to meet with over 150 people that have been affected by recent disasters. Tonsager discussed the assistance that USDA can provide to help residents, farmers, ranchers and businesses that have been hard hit by the recent floods in Arkansas and assured the crowd that their concerns would be conveyed to Washington.

Rural Development provides the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with regular information as to vacant units in multi-family housing complexes financed by the agency, and following a Presidential disaster declaration, FEMA can assist with placement vouchers to cover short-term rental costs. USDA offers a variety of resources for states and individuals affected by the recent disasters. Read more »

USDA to Louisiana Flood Victims: We Are Here For You

U.S. Department of Agriculture Acting Under Secretary Farm and Foreign Agriculture Service Michael Scuse speaks with following an outreach event on the Mississippi River levee at Vidalia, LA, on Thursday, May 19, 2011. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Acting Under Secretary Farm and Foreign Agriculture Service Michael Scuse speaks with an area resident following an outreach event on the Mississippi River levee at Vidalia, LA, on Thursday, May 19, 2011. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

The levee along the Mississippi River was busy with activity on Thursday, May 19. USDA Under Secretaries for Rural Development, Dallas Tonsager, and the Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Service, Michael Scuse along with Rural Development Louisiana State Director Clarence W. Hawkins and other USDA agencies, Southern University and LSU Agricultural Centers personnel, Congressional offices representatives, other governmental and local entities came together for residents and concerned citizens on the levee of the Mississippi River in Vidalia, Louisiana. Read more »

USDA-APHIS Contributes to Endangered Species Protection

On Friday, May 20, thousands of people throughout the United States will celebrate Endangered Species Day.  It is an opportunity to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and the everyday actions people can take to help protect our nation’s natural resources.

Each year, wildlife researchers and specialists with USDA-APHIS’ Wildlife Services (WS) program help to reduce threats to our Nation’s more vulnerable animals and habitats. In FY 2010, WS efforts assisted 131 threatened or endangered species in 36 States, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Cuba. Examples of WS work with endangered and threatened species include the following: Read more »