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USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman Promotes Public/Private Partnerships, Meets with Industry Leaders

USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman (front left) meets with FPL researcher John Hunt (front right) as representatives from FPL partner Noble Environmental Technologies look on (in background,  Jim Jensen and Caleb Walker).

USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman (front left) meets with FPL researcher John Hunt (front right) as representatives from FPL partner Noble Environmental Technologies look on (in background, Jim Jensen and Caleb Walker).

A recent visit to the US Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory by USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman was an eventful one. Sherman took the opportunity to visit with industry leaders who have collaborated with federal scientists to bring innovative new products to the market. Sherman was at the laboratory on July 25 for a grand opening of the new Nanocellulose Pilot Plant along with scores of industry leaders, scientists and academic researchers. Read more »

USDA Strives to Improve Water Quality and Public Health in Low Income Communities in the Southwest

Acting Deputy Under Secretary Judith Canales traveled to Texas recently to announce a much needed change to the USDA Rural Development water and wastewater funding process. Canales met with community members and local leaders in the City of Peñitas water treatment plant during her visit, and also spoke before members of the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders 2012 Summit, held in McAllen.

The change to the funding process for water and wastewater treatment facilities will assign priority points for projects in colonias. The funding change will help increase investments needed to strengthen these communities and improve the quality of life for their residents, ultimately helping colonias address significant health risks.

The announcement was a terrific follow up to the new “Border Community Capital Initiative” (Border Initiative) MOU between U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Rural Development (USDA-RD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) in June 2012. Read more »

USDA Committed to Supporting Improvement of Housing Quality in Indian Country

The  newly constructed Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority administration building, built with USDA support.

The newly constructed Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority administration building, built with USDA support.

USDA Rural Development and Housing and Urban Development staff celebrated the building dedication of the first Housing Authority in the nation recently.  Started over 50 years ago, the Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority located on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, in South Dakota, hosted officials in honor of the opening of their newly constructed administration building.  Funded through a USDA Rural Development’s Recovery Act Community Facility Direct loan of $3.6 Million, the building stands for the coordinated effort of many agencies. Read more »

The True Big Apple

(left to right top) Mike Hurwitz, Director of the Greenmarkets Programs, GrowNYC; Anthony Jordan, Community Liaison for Congressman Serrano; Joel Berg, Executive Director, New York City Coalition Against Hunger; Kim Kessler, Food Policy Coordinator, NYC Mayor’s Office; Cathy Nonas, Senior Advisor, DOHMH. (left to right bottom) Alyson Abrami, Manager Farmers’ Market Program, DOHMH; Culinary Nutritionists, Stellar Farmers’ Market Program; Audrey Rowe, Administrator for the USDA Food and Nutrition Service; Linda La Violette, Director of Farmers’ Markets, Empire State Development

(left to right top) Mike Hurwitz, Director of the Greenmarkets Programs, GrowNYC; Anthony Jordan, Community Liaison for Congressman Serrano; Joel Berg, Executive Director, New York City Coalition Against Hunger; Kim Kessler, Food Policy Coordinator, NYC Mayor’s Office; Cathy Nonas, Senior Advisor, DOHMH. (left to right bottom) Alyson Abrami, Manager Farmers’ Market Program, DOHMH; Culinary Nutritionists, Stellar Farmers’ Market Program; Audrey Rowe, Administrator for the USDA Food and Nutrition Service; Linda La Violette, Director of Farmers’ Markets, Empire State Development

During a recent visit to the “Big Apple”, Audrey Rowe, Administrator, USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) visited Poe Park Greenmarket in the Bronx, a borough of New York City.  She entered to find farmers showing off their fresh, locally-grown produce, herbs and specialty products, which community members regularly use their SNAP and WIC benefits to buy. Read more »

USDA Research Prepares Farmers for Change

NIFA-funded grad student checks soil moisture gauge.

NIFA-funded grad student checks soil moisture gauge.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research profile.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen a lot of variability in the weather, with severe droughts in some places, excessive flooding in others, and more extreme weather events all over the country.  While there has always been variability in the weather, scientists predict increasing variability in weather patterns as the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) increases in the atmosphere. Such changes present challenges for farmers, who, in many areas, are trying to grow crops under hotter, drier climate regimes and must protect their crops from damage during extreme weather events.  That’s why the USDA is actively doing research on how to produce crops and livestock through increasing climate variability, and that’s why the fourth in a series of Office of the Chief Scientist white papers on the Department’s research portfolio is focused on what USDA science is doing to help prepare the agency, and the nation’s farmers for a changing climate. Read more »

USDA Offers Livestock and Pet Safety Tips for Those in the Path of Tropical Storm Isaac

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is issuing guidance for residents in states who have livestock and pets that might be affected by Tropical Storm Isaac.  USDA is offering these tips to help residents protect the health of these animals in the event of power outages, flooding and other issues that can be associated with strong storms.

Follow the direction of state and local officials and stay tuned to your local Emergency Alert System television or ra­dio stations, and fire, police and other local emergency response organizations for relevant emergency information. Read more »