Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Newly Constructed Bridges Improve Access and Create Jobs in Alabama’s National Forests

Roads and bridges are vital links that connect communities to their national forests. For residents living near the Bankhead and Talladega National Forests, their drive to the woods is now safer while also protecting natural resources thanks to recent construction projects for two forest bridges.

The Forest Service replaced the Pine Glen Bridge near Helflin, Ala., on the Talladega National Forest with funding support from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.  The Forest Service also supported the construction of the Brushy Creek Bridge near Double Springs, Ala., on the Bankhead National Forest. The projects employed local community workers who built the bridges which are now helping to improve habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms, reducing sediment deposits in the local streams and rivers, and improving access for visitors. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 7/12/12

U.S. Corn Areas Experiencing Drought. Reflects July 10, 2012 U.S.

U.S. Corn Areas Experiencing Drought. Reflects July 10, 2012 U.S. (click to enlarge)

On July 11, USDA’s World Agricultural Outlook Board cut the estimate for the 2012 U.S. corn crop by 1.82 billion bushels to “reflect expected impacts of persistent and extreme June and early-July dryness and heat across the central and eastern Corn Belt.”  The 12% cut, which left the projected U.S. corn production at 12.97 billion bushels, is a direct result of the nation’s worst drought in a generation—since 1988. Yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also announced that more than 1,000 counties across in 26 states would be designated as disaster areas due to the worsening drought. Read more »

Iowa Senator Visits Wiota Wind Energy Project Receiving USDA Rural Development Funding

An American flag flies next to a new wind turbine, funded in part through USDA support. USDA photo.

An American flag flies next to a new wind turbine, funded in part through USDA support. USDA photo.

Recently, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin got an up-close look at Iowa’s newest community-owned wind turbine.  With an American flag snapping in the breeze, he marked the project, the investors and the opportunity for wealth creation via renewable energy in a town of 116 in southwest Iowa. Read more »

USDA Deputy Under Secretary Butch Blazer at Forest Products Lab for Important Wood-to-Energy Roundtable

Arthur “Butch” Blazer, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, paid a visit to the U.S. Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) in Madison, Wis., recently to convene an important roundtable discussion on wood-to-energy concerns in Wisconsin and the Midwest.

Among the participants were wood scientists and technology transfer authorities from FPL and Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, representatives from the logging and paper industries, academics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Resource Center, state natural resources officials, and other national and regional Forest Service officials. Read more »

Communities on the Move Video Challenge Winners Announced

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

The winners of the Communities on the Move Video Challenge have been chosen!  Since First Lady Michelle Obama announced the Video Challenge in February, Let’s Move Faith and Communities has been inspired by every congregation and community that submitted a video highlighting how they are promoting healthy lifestyles for kids.  From putting on nutrition-themed puppet shows in Connecticut to advocating for safer play spaces in Colorado and preaching healthy living from the pulpit in Florida, the ideas in these videos demonstrate the commitment that communities across the country have to reversing the trend of childhood obesity within a generation.

The Video Challenge encouraged faith-based and neighborhood organizations to create one-to-three minute videos highlighting the work they are doing to make their communities or congregations places of wellness. The challenge recognized efforts that promote healthy lifestyles for kids in three areas: encouraging nutritious eating through USDA’s MyPlate icon, increasing physical activity, and ensuring access to healthy, affordable foods. The winners and honorable mentions will be invited to Washington, D.C. for a Let’s Move! event. Read more »

New Marine Shipping Container Report Sheds Light on Available Opportunities

The Ocean Shipping Container Availability Report. The weekly report provides a snapshot of shipping equipment that is available at 18 different intermodal locations. Photo courtesy of Port of Los Angeles.

Access to market information is a critical component in the success of any business. This is the case in the agricultural export industry, where locating available marine shipping containers is often difficult.  For many in this industry, finding available containers can be like searching for buried treasure.  To make the search easier, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) developed the Ocean Shipping Container Availability Report (OSCAR).  Read more »