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USDA Does its Part to Bring Valentine’s Day Cheer

Ensuring cut flowers are free from invasive pests and disease is a joint effort between the USDA and Department of Homeland Security.  Here inspectors examine imported flowers at a Florida Plant Inspection Station run by USDA.

Ensuring cut flowers are free from invasive pests and disease is a joint effort between the USDA and Department of Homeland Security. Here inspectors examine imported flowers at a Florida Plant Inspection Station run by USDA.

Did you know that USDA helps in bringing Valentine’s Day cheer every year? With the help of Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, USDA’s Animal and Plant health Inspection Service (APHIS) safely imports millions of cut flowers into the US free from harmful plant pests and diseases from Jan 1 to Feb 14th in preparation for the Valentine’s Season. Read more »

Rural Development Officials Seek Input on Ways to Create Jobs, Improve Housing Opportunities in Louisiana

USDA Rural Development Housing Administrator Tammye Trevino and Rural Development Louisiana State Director Clarence Hawkins kick-started the new year by holding a White House Business Council Stakeholder’s meeting in Luling, Louisiana, located in St. Charles Parish near New Orleans.  The focus of the stakeholder’s meeting was rural housing.  The focus fit perfectly in line with Administrator Trevino’s primary reason for visiting Louisiana.

Administrator Trevino, along with Bryan Hooper, Deputy Administrator of USDA’s Multi-Family Housing Division each served as presenters on the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing (CARH) 2012 mid-year meeting in New Orleans.  CARH is a national nonprofit trade organization focusing on issues affecting rural housing.  The theme for this year’s meeting was “Transforming Rural Housing: Innovative Tools and Dynamic Initiatives for Tomorrow.” Read more »

A Blueprint for Savings at the Agricultural Research Service

On January 9, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack put forth USDA’s “Blueprint for Stronger Service” which focuses on streamlining operations and cutting costs throughout the Department.

The “Blueprint for Stronger Service” calls for USDA to close 259 domestic offices, facilities and laboratories, as well as taking business-related actions such as consolidating cell phone plans across the Department, standardizing civil rights training and purchase of cybersecurity products, and centralizing activities related to civil rights, human resources, procurement and property management. Read more »

US Forest Service to host 7th annual “Virtual Summit”

For the seventh year in a row, thinkers and leaders from the U.S. Forest Service will team up with partners across the country to discuss sustainable operations affecting the agency.

The 7th Annual Forest Service Sustainable Operations Summit will take place in Sacramento Feb. 14 – 16. Hosted by the Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest region (California, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands) and the agency’s Pacific Southwest Research Station, the summit will be attended virtually by 90 percent of the participants from around the country. Read more »

US Forest Service Publishes Dual Language Booklet for Native Alaskans for First Time

Partnering with a local Alaskan native community, the U.S. Forest Service has for the first time published a dual language booklet in English and a native Alaskan language, Yup’ik, to help educate the greater community in Southwestern Alaska on invasive species.

Titled “Protecting Southwestern Alaska from Invasive Species – A Guide in the English and Yup’ik languages,” the Forest Service’s Alaska Region and the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies aim to explain invasive species concerns unique to Southwestern Alaska, which is home to a large community of the indigenous Yup’ik people. The title of the booklet translated into Yup’ik is, “Kellutellra Alaskam Ungalaqlirnera Eniaritulinun Itrallerkaaneng – Maaryartekaq Kassat Yup’iit-llu Qaneryaraigtun.” Read more »

True GRITS: Fighting Obesity in the South

It was a sunny and warm day in Frisco, Texas, on January 13. You would never know that it was the dead of winter. It was a perfect day to drive from Dallas to the suburbs well north of the city, to attend the GRITS Regional Summit on Childhood Obesity. Yes, that’s GRITS. No, not the go-to southern breakfast food, but Girls Raised In The South, hosted by Sisterbration, a nonprofit dedicated to prevention education for women and girls living in the South.

Sisterbration partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Women’s Health and the Dallas Area Coalition to Prevent Childhood Obesity for an excellent day of awareness and education against childhood obesity. Shannon Jones, our section chief of policy for Southwest Region Special Nutrition Programs, gave a presentation on food insecurity, and detailed some of USDA’s programs that create a safety net against hunger. Read more »