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Food Safety Is Crucial For East Coast Residents As Hurricane Sandy Approaches

Hurricane Sandy could bring wind, flooding, heavy rain and possibly snow to the East Coast, and the Food Safety and Inspection Service urges people to take steps now to ensure they have access to safe food. Power outages and flooding that often result from weather emergencies compromise the safety of stored food, and planning ahead can minimize the risk of foodborne illness.

The publication “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes” can be downloaded and printed for reference during a power outage. FSIS’ YouTube video “Food Safety During Power Outages” also has instructions for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Strengthening America’s National Forests

As harvest season continues, so does the historic drought that has impacted so many producers and communities. Today, USDA and other Federal agencies continue doing all we can to help farmers and ranchers. Unfortunately, due to inaction by Congress, many programs authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill expired on October 1, and other aspects of the law will continue to expire in the coming months.

While we continue to urge Congress to take up a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible, USDA continues our work to further economic opportunity in rural America.

This includes our efforts to protect, restore and properly manage America’s National Forests. Read more »

Growing Food for the Common Good at an Idaho People’s Garden

This Idaho People’s Garden donated over 5,000 pounds of food this summer to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Boise.

This Idaho People’s Garden donated over 5,000 pounds of food this summer to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Boise.

Located on about a half an acre of land in Boise, Idaho is a USDA People’s Garden. This land wasn’t always so fruitful. In fact, it was barren for almost 30 years due to a lack of water available on the property. In 2010, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) Idaho State Office teamed up with Amity United Methodist Church of Boise to create a People’s Garden. The land is now a flourishing garden that produces many fruits and vegetables year round thanks in part to a new water distribution system. Read more »

Thanks to USDA, Rural Alaskan Native Villages are Receiving Safe Water for the First Time

Many communities in remote rural Alaska are only accessible by plane or boat and essentially inaccessible during the long, hard winters. They lag far behind the lower 48 states in having safe and dependable drinking water and suitable waste disposal systems available.  The Rural Alaska Village Grant (RAVG) program supports the development and construction of water and wastewater systems to correct dire health and sanitation conditions in those villages. I had the recent opportunity to accompany USDA Water and Environmental Program RAVG Manager Tasha Deardorff and other program partners on site visits of two such remote rural communities to check the status of current projects.

It’s nearly 400 miles from Anchorage to Bethel, the regional hub.  Our first destination from Bethel was the remote Native village of Toksook  Bay some 114 miles away.  We were greeted by a resident who transported us via four-wheeler  (all terain vehicle) to the city office. Read more »