In Oregon, huge swaths of the Willamette National Forest, perhaps as much as 12,000 acres, has stands of trees less than 40 years old that have never been thinned. The firs are crowded together, making it hard for sunlight to reach them. Competition for resources has made them susceptible to insects, disease, blowdowns and snow breakage. Trees that should be 13 to 14 feet apart are suffocating just eight feet from their neighbors. Read more »
Rural communities are the backbone of our nation’s economy. This past year, food and agriculture exports from rural America reached their highest levels ever and the industry supported more than 1.15 million American jobs. America’s agricultural trade surplus also reached record levels. This is partly the result of a comprehensive rural strategy implemented to spur innovation, increase export levels, invest in clean energy, and expand opportunities for rural enterprises on and off the farm that create jobs. In the last few years, USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program and our Business and Industry Guarantee program has created jobs and has helped millions of rural Americans address essential challenges in health care, education, public service and public safety. And now we want to hear YOUR voice.
On the heels of the 1 year anniversary of the White House Rural Council, and to celebrate National Homeownership Month, I will host the 3rd installment of Virtual Office Hours. The topic will be economic development in our nation’s rural communities, including the great strides that have been made in agricultural economy and the important role housing plays in creating jobs, maintaining viable rural communities, and contributing to the economy. Read more »
Whether you’re studying abroad in Europe, traveling on business in Asia, or taking that dream vacation to Hawaii, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is urging summer travelers to join us in the fight against invasive pests by not packing a pest.
While agricultural products make tempting souvenirs, invasive pests can hitchhike on fruits, vegetables, meats, processed foods, plants, and handicraft items. If these invasive pests were to become established in the United States, they could devastate urban and rural landscapes and cost billions of dollars in lost revenue and eradication efforts. As a result, APHIS restricts or prohibits the entry of certain agricultural products from foreign countries and from Hawaii and U.S. territories. Read more »
Thousands of people across the nation attended a variety of events on U.S. Forest Service lands as part of the 5th annual National Get Outdoors Day.
NationalGetOutdoorsDay.Org is a campaign that encourages Americans, especially young people, to seek out healthy, active outdoor lifestyles, connect with nature and embrace public lands. The event also supports President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Outside! initiative. Read more »
For most Americans, advanced health care facilities that can treat almost any kind of ailment are just a short drive away. But picture you or a loved one in your rural community enduring a life-threatening illness or injury, and having to travel hundreds of miles for medical attention. Compounding the issue are the often treacherous travel conditions during the winter months when remote roads are hazardous, and sometimes closed due to weather.
It’s no wonder that the community of Tazlina, Alaska, in the Copper River Valley, welcomed the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the Copper River Native Association’s new health care and administrative facility on a 10 acre site. The project is a joint venture between USDA Rural Development through a Community Facilities direct loan; U.S. Housing and Urban Development and the State of Alaska. This new facility will replace the existing 40-year old scattered site facilities that were originally slated to be decommissioned or demolished in 1985. The land has been provided by Ahtna, Incorporated, A Native regional corporation, on a 99 year lease. Read more »
Tomorrow, Secretary Vilsack and I will participate in the Future of Food, Food Security for the 21st Century conference, which is sponsored by The Washington Post. I am pleased to see the topic of food security getting such attention, as I believe it’s one of the biggest challenges we face now and in the next 50 years. As director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), I believe NIFA has a crucial role to play in addressing these challenges.
We are facing a “9 billion challenge,” in that the global population is projected to hit 9 billion by the year 2050. This challenge presents what I call wicked problems that require us to find ways to feed, clothe, shelter all people, and meet their energy needs, without wreaking havoc on the environment. Read more »