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June Is Dairy Month: A Time to Salute America’s Dairy Farmers

America’s dairy cows, putting milk, cheese, butter and yogurt on the table. (Photo courtesy of NRCS)

America’s dairy cows, putting milk, cheese, butter and yogurt on the table. (Photo courtesy of NRCS)

As we celebrate National Dairy Month, I’d like to recognize dairy producers across California and around the nation for their productivity and innovation. Read more »

Saving Taxpayer Money through Nutrition Assistance Delivery

Saving taxpayer money is an important focal point today, not just here in Washington, but in living rooms all across the country.  At USDA, we’re achieving this by improving the way Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are being delivered to millions of low-income Americans.

Providing nutrition for struggling individuals and families is the primary focus of the program, but the June 16 announcement of SNAP payment accuracy rates documented by states underscores the Obama administration’s ongoing effort to make government more accountable to the American people. Read more »

Old Fashioned Success in the 21st Century

Todnechia Mitchell, NRCS district conservationist in Milam County, works the reins to control the only horsepower used to plow and cultivate fields on Sand Creek Farm in Cameron, Texas. Ben Godfrey, farm owner and organic producer, walks behind Mitchell, guiding the draft horses that are pulling a potato planter.

Todnechia Mitchell, NRCS district conservationist in Milam County, works the reins to control the only horsepower used to plow and cultivate fields on Sand Creek Farm in Cameron, Texas. Ben Godfrey, farm owner and organic producer, walks behind Mitchell, guiding the draft horses that are pulling a potato planter.

“Out with the old, in with the new” isn’t the rule of thumb at Sand Creek Farm in Cameron, Texas. Ben Godfrey, the organic farmer who owns the farm, has used the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a conservation program administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), to help increase the environmental benefits on his farm in Milam County. Read more »

APHIS Pleased With Animal Evacuations At Two Flood-Ravaged North Dakota Zoos

In late May, two zoos in central North Dakota were hit hard by flooding.  The disaster prompted the need for a swift evacuation of the animals.  In Bismarck, the Missouri River threatened to submerge the Dakota Zoo and its 500+ animals under as much as seven feet of water, and in Minot the Roosevelt Park Zoo was a potential target of the rising Souris River, which runs directly through the city.

During the height of the flooding, APHIS’ Animal Care Program monitored reports coming from the zoos and kept abreast of river levels.  Inspector Amy Jirsa-Smith contacted zoo officials regularly. She was on-site at both facilities, and helped corral some animals at the Dakota Zoo so they could be transported to other facilities.  However, she is quick to point out that the zoo staff at both facilities, with the assistance of several cooperating state and local agencies, state veterinarians, four neighboring zoos and the National Guard, had everything under control. Read more »

Campaign to Cut Waste: Fighting Fraud and Slashing Errors

Cross posted from the White House blog:

Just days after the White House launch of the Campaign to Cut Waste, an Administration-wide initiative to crack down on unnecessary spending, two federal agencies announced new progress in fighting fraud and cracking down on improper payments.

In a dose of bad news for criminals looking to take advantage of our seniors and defraud Medicare, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today they’ll be deploying innovative technology in the fight against Medicare Fraud. Starting July 1, CMS will begin using predictive modeling technology, similar to that used by credit card companies, to identify potentially fraudulent Medicare claims on a nationwide basis, and help stop fraudulent claims before they are paid. This initiative builds on the strides made with the Recovery Act to utilize the kinds of cutting edge tools used by the private sector — as well as new anti-fraud tools and resources provided by the Affordable Care Act. Read more »

New Farms for New Americans in Vermont

Clothilde Ntahomvukiye, 63 and Michele Mpambazi, 64 are married and farm together in the New Farms for New Americans project.  They were both born in Bujumburi, Burundi.  They have been farmers since they were children.

Clothilde Ntahomvukiye, 63 and Michele Mpambazi, 64 are married and farm together in the New Farms for New Americans project. They were both born in Bujumburi, Burundi. They have been farmers since they were children.

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Vermont is going above and beyond to reach socially disadvantaged farmers in the Green Mountain state. FSA’s Vermont State Executive Director, Robert Paquin, cites the outstanding work of two Vermont-based FSA employees in particular—brothers Brad and Larry Parker—as key to Vermont FSA’s success in reaching new immigrants from Africa and Asia and helping them adjust to farming in northern New England. Read more »