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USDA Rural Development State Offices Hold Energy Stakeholder Meetings

Senator Al Franken and Minn. Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer participate in a roundtable meeting on the USDA Rural Energy For America Program.

Throughout the first quarter of 2012, the 47 Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) State Offices held energy stakeholder meetings across the country to discuss ways the Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) can assist agricultural producers and rural businesses with their energy needs.   Meeting participants included local lenders, grant writers, small business owners, and local, state and federal government agencies. Read more »

Removal of Invasive Tree Improves Health of American Samoa Forests

Dead Tamaligi trees with recovering native forest in the National Park of American Samoa. Photo credit: Tavita Togia, National Park of American Samoa.

Removal of destructive invasive trees is an ongoing challenge for the U.S. Forest Service. What folks might not realize is that this challenge of protecting native forests extends all the way to the South Pacific.  Read more »

USDA Offers Funding to Support School Nutrition

6 cent rule is a linchpin to schools adopting new meal standards that will improve kids’ meal choices in the cafeteria.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has issued an important piece of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 – the 6 cent interim final rule – to give schools and communities the tools to meet the challenge of providing more nutritious food. This rule is another big step to provide our children with the nutrition they need in school to be healthy, active and ready to face the future.

In January, USDA unveiled new standards for school meals based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These updates will result in healthier meals for kids across the nation.  The 6 cent interim final rule is important because it establishes the requirements for states to certify school district compliance with the new meal standards. Once certified, school districts that meet the meal standards will be reimbursed an additional 6 cents for each lunch served. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: A Farm, Food and Jobs Bill This Year

Last week, the Senate Agriculture Committee took a first look at a proposed version of the Farm Bill – or, as I call it – the farm, food and jobs bill. This is an important first step in the process to write the legislation and get it passed into law.

Farmers, ranchers, and the men and women who live in rural communities deserve to know what the rules will be moving forward.

With the current law expiring, we cannot wait any longer to reauthorize this essential law for rural America. It needs to happen this year. Read more »

Alabama’s Conecuh National Forest Helps Reestablish the Eastern Indigo Snake

A partnership of federal, state and private organizations are working together to re-establish a population of eastern indigo snakes in Alabama.

Alabama conservationists are closer to regenerating a population of the threatened eastern indigo snake in the Conecuh National Forest through the release of numerous juvenile snakes on the forest. The indigo snake is North America’s largest native snake, and plays an important ecological role in Alabama’s wildlife diversity.  Read more »