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

Forest Service Botanist Shares Fall’s Native Plant Diversity on South Dakota’s Black Hills National Forest

Fall needle cast is natural for many conifers, including ponderosa pine. The trees shed their oldest leaves each fall, but the leaves at the branch tips remain green.  Pine trees that lose their newer leaves at the branch tips may be stressed or diseased. Photo by Jill Welborn.

Fall needle cast is natural for many conifers, including ponderosa pine. The trees shed their oldest leaves each fall, but the leaves at the branch tips remain green. Pine trees that lose their newer leaves at the branch tips may be stressed or diseased. Photo by Jill Welborn.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I think many people are relieved to see the fall colors and relish the cool mornings here on the Black Hills National Forest. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: A Thank You to America’s Veterans

Americans will soon come together on Veterans Day to honor our nation’s returned service members, including more than 22 million living American veterans.

For generations, American service members across every branch of our military have made tremendous sacrifices to defend our freedom and liberty.   This weekend, it’s important that all of us take time to remember their service.

In particular, earlier this year, President Obama honored our Vietnam-era veterans when he proclaimed a 13-year period – May 28, 2012, through Nov. 11, 2025 – as the “Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.”  This gives all of us a special opportunity to recognize these veterans, who too often were not properly thanked when they came home. Read more »

Celebrating Years of Service - at USDA and as Military Veterans

From left to right: Jeffery Ishmael, a 20-year U.S. Army veteran; Joseph Hastings, served with the U.S. Army Special Forces; Tracy Sulton, a member of the U.S. Navy in front of a CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter; Lauren Hilliker (right) with Col. Mike Malone served with the U.S. Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Reserve.

From left to right: Jeffery Ishmael, a 20-year U.S. Army veteran; Joseph Hastings, served with the U.S. Army Special Forces; Tracy Sulton, a member of the U.S. Navy in front of a CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter; Lauren Hilliker (right) with Col. Mike Malone served with the U.S. Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Reserve.

Each Veteran’s Day, the country takes a moment to recognize our troops for their commitment and dedication to the nation. The experiences of our veterans show how military service intersects with the mission of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) in unexpected ways. As we prepare for the holiday, AMS would like to thank all of our veterans for their service and their sacrifice and also highlight a few members of our staff willing to share their stories. Read more »

Collaboration Key to Aiding Hurricane Sandy Victims

Tough times and dire circumstances have a longstanding history of bringing America’s communities and organizations together.  The recent storms that descended on much of the nation’s Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions have underscored these important partnerships.

For many of the stricken areas, including the urban centers in the Northeast, natural disasters of this scale are relatively rare.  And households containing the very young, elderly and those with special needs are of particular concern to USDA and our many partners engaged in these emergencies.

To aid those in Hurricane Sandy’s crosshairs, USDA swiftly coordinated with FEMA, States, and partner organizations to provide disaster nutrition assistance in 13 states.  By issuing automatic, mass replacement of SNAP benefits to certain households hit by the storm – for instance – SNAP individuals and families currently participating in SNAP will be able to replace their food purchased with SNAP benefits that spoiled due to flooding and power outages.  In the severely affected areas of New Jersey and New York SNAP recipients will be granted a waiver to purchase hot foods with their benefits.  In addition, USDA has worked with retailer trade associations to ensure SNAP authorized stores are aware of this waiver and eligibility for the purchase of hot foods through the month of November.  Meanwhile, several other States have been granted extensions to report loss of food purchased with their SNAP benefits and to request replacement benefits. Read more »

Veterans Inject Military Values into the U.S. Forest Service Workforce

Mary Laub’s graduation, Williams Air Force Base, January 1984. Photo courtesy of US Army Corps of Engineers.

Mary Laub’s graduation, Williams Air Force Base, January 1984. Photo courtesy of US Army Corps of Engineers.

We’ve all heard catchy military slogans like Be All You Can Be, Get an Edge on Life and Aim High. Three of the Forest Service’s finest can identify with each of these mantras. As former airmen and soldier, they proudly served in the U.S. Air Force and Army. Read more »

In Working with Tribes USDA Rural Development Opens Electronic Doors

Webinars and Teleconferences are not the raw materials that Tribes use to build the infrastructure that they need.  However, at USDA Rural Development we believe that these tools are crucial building blocks that help our Agencies and staff build a foundation for consultation, cooperation and mutual understanding with Federally Recognized Tribes.

Over the last few months, Rural Development co-hosted an Indian Housing Webinar Discussion Series with the National American Indian Housing Council.  The goals of that series were clear and simple: 1) Educate USDA Rural Development personnel on the unique issues in providing affordable housing in Indian Country; 2) Educate Tribes and Tribal housing program staff on USDA Rural Development’s programs and services; and, 3) Examine and discuss strategies to improve the partnership between Tribal housing programs and USDA Rural Development.  The final webinar was hosted on November 7th and in preparation for the National American Indian Housing Council’s Legal Symposium in December 2012, we are putting together a joint white paper on the Webinar Series and recommendations to consider moving forward. Read more »