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Afghan Borlaug Fellows Receive Executive Training

A USDA People’s Garden outreach coordinator gives a tour of the garden to visiting Afghan Borlaug Fellows during their visit to USDA for the Borlaug program’s executive management training. The fellows spent a few days in the Washington D.C. area before visiting Washington State University in Pullman, Wash., where they learned how the U.S. land grant university system conducts research and brings new technologies to agricultural producers and agribusinesses. (Photo by Erin Tindell, Foreign Agricultural Service)

A USDA People’s Garden outreach coordinator gives a tour of the garden to visiting Afghan Borlaug Fellows during their visit to USDA for the Borlaug program’s executive management training. The fellows spent a few days in the Washington D.C. area before visiting Washington State University in Pullman, Wash., where they learned how the U.S. land grant university system conducts research and brings new technologies to agricultural producers and agribusinesses. (Photo by Erin Tindell, Foreign Agricultural Service)

With 80 percent of Afghanistan’s population involved in farming, herding or both, agriculture is the main driver of the Afghan economy. However, only 12 percent of the country’s total land is arable and less than six percent is currently cultivated. Since 2003, the U.S. government has been working alongside Afghans to help restore the country’s once vibrant agricultural sector. Read more »

Cranberries, Nature’s Garnets, are Ripening Across the Country

As we celebrate the autumn season and as holidays approach, many of us will also be thinking of family gatherings and special menus which may include the colorful and healthy cranberry.  Knowing some of the plant’s history may just help us enjoy this fruit even more.

Vaccinium oxycoccos L. or Small cranberry is widespread in boreal North America extending southward to California’s Cascade Range and to the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. It is a circumpolar boreal-montane species which means it is absent from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Read more »

PBS Film Explores History of Dust Bowl and Founding of USDA Agency

Imagine looking out the window and seeing an enormous black cloud heading straight for your home. This frightening experience was a common one for people who lived through the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.

 A huge dust storm moves across the land during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

A huge dust storm moves across the land during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Why I’m Thankful for Rural America

This week, Americans across our nation will gather around Thanksgiving tables with family and friends.   Every year at this time, I am reminded how blessed we are to have a strong, vibrant rural America which provides so much for each of us, every day.

Rural America provides our families with a safe, secure, affordable food supply, unrivaled outdoor recreational opportunities, healthy soil and clean water.  Our nation’s leading efforts in renewable fuel and energy are based in rural America, as are millions of American jobs.

Our farmers, ranchers and growers are the most productive on earth.  Their work allows us to feed people at home and around the world. It means that American families pay less for their food than the people of any other developed nation. It strengthens our economy, with agriculture supporting one in 12 U.S. jobs. Read more »

In New Jersey, Neighbors Helping Neighbors Recover from Hurricane Sandy

U.S. Forest Service employee Jordon Sanders from Harlan, IA., waits for military aircraft to drop off more supplies in response to Hurricane Sandy at the Republic Airport in Farmingdale, NY, on Thursday, Nov 1, 2012. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.

U.S. Forest Service employee Jordon Sanders from Harlan, IA., waits for military aircraft to drop off more supplies in response to Hurricane Sandy at the Republic Airport in Farmingdale, NY, on Thursday, Nov 1, 2012. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.

When Hurricane Sandy was forecast to hit the east coast a little more than two weeks ago, no one would have imagined all the devastation and destruction the storm would leave behind.  In days leading up to the mandatory evacuation of our coastal areas, many residents wondered if this would be a false alarm similar to last years’ evacuation, when Hurricane Irene came barreling through many of our towns.  Although Irene caused considerable power outages, flooding and wind damage up and down the Garden State, nothing can compare to Sandy. Read more »