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Apalachicola National Forest Hosts International Fire Professionals to Share Ideas on Wildfires, Healthy Forests

Debbie Casto, Forest Service fire management officer for the National Forests in Florida, discusses the precautions taken before conducting a prescribed burn near threatened and endangered species sites on the Apalachicola National Forest. The forest is home to several endangered species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker. (Forest Service photo by Susan Blake)

Debbie Casto, Forest Service fire management officer for the National Forests in Florida, discusses the precautions taken before conducting a prescribed burn near threatened and endangered species sites on the Apalachicola National Forest. The forest is home to several endangered species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker. (Forest Service photo by Susan Blake)

More than 8,000 miles from home, fire management officers from Australia and New Zealand recently visited the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida to share techniques and strategies in the use of prescribed fire.

“We see how the use of frequent fire intervals helps manage the different fuel types,” said Andrew Greystone, fire and emergency service manager from Victoria, Australia. The Apalachicola appears to be a more diverse forest – including species, flora, fauna, habitat for birds and other animals – than what we’re used to seeing.” Read more »

The Thousand-Acre Woods

The Corum family farm, where stewardship is a way of life.

The Corum family farm, where stewardship is a way of life.

For Harlan County, Ky. landowners Jim and Joanne Corum, conservation is a way of life. For the Corums, making the choice to enroll their land in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)—one of the largest private-land conservation programs of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)—was an easy one. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: USDA’s Accomplishments in 2012

Over the course of 2012, farm families and rural communities faced a number of challenges. A record drought impacted much of the country and many were impacted by a major hurricane, flooding and severe storms. However, thanks to the resilience of rural Americans, our communities are still going strong.

Over the course of this year, USDA continued our record efforts to help folks across our nation, and I am proud of the work we carried out.

We supported agriculture. This summer, USDA convened the White House Rural Council to help America’s farmers and ranchers overcome drought. We provided unique flexibility for crop insurance that saved producers more than $20 million, expanded emergency lending for producers, opened more than 2.8 million acres of conservation land for emergency forage and more. Read more »

FAS Program Helps Provide Qualified Teachers in Malawi

Two teachers currently training at the new Dowa Teachers Training College that opened in Malawi Nov. 30. The college was built with the help of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Food for Progress (FFP) program, and more than 250 qualified primary school teachers will graduate from there annually. The teachers will instruct children in the rural communities throughout Malawi. (Courtesy Photo)

Two teachers currently training at the new Dowa Teachers Training College that opened in Malawi Nov. 30. The college was built with the help of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Food for Progress (FFP) program, and more than 250 qualified primary school teachers will graduate from there annually. The teachers will instruct children in the rural communities throughout Malawi. (Courtesy Photo)

School children in the rural communities of Malawi will soon have access to more qualified primary school educators, thanks in part to the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Food for Progress (FFP) program. Read more »

Value-Added Grants Help Minnesota Pork Farm Meet Growing Demand

Jim VanDerPol get his pigs ready for market on his Pastures A Plenty farm in Kerkhoven, Minn.

Jim VanDerPol get his pigs ready for market on his Pastures A Plenty farm in Kerkhoven, Minn.

“We think that fresh air and sunshine are the best health guarantee.” That’s the quote you’ll see after opening a brochure from Pastures A Plenty Farm. Spend an hour with the VanDerPol family and you quickly understand that those words are much more than just a marketing slogan. It’s the family’s philosophy.

Pastures A Plenty’s pork products can be found in many co-ops, retail outlets, restaurants and local stores throughout Minnesota. The VanDerPols feed their hogs on grass and straw and use a wholistic veterinary approach featuring probiotics and spices instead of drugs. Read more »

No Más Hambre: Un llamado a la acción comunitaria

La cumbre NO MAS HAMBRE celebrada recientemente en Washington DC para crear conciencia sobre el hambre en la comunidad latina reunió a líderes gubernamentales, grupos sin fines de lucro, empresas y miembros de la comunidad para hablar sobre soluciones a un problema endémico que a menudo pasa desapercibido – el que casi uno de cada tres hogares latinos con niños se enfrenta al hambre en este país.

Al mismo tiempo, los latinos están desproporcionadamente afectados por el aumento de las tasas de obesidad infantil, con casi el 40 por ciento de los niños latinos con sobrepeso u obesidad. Esta paradoja de la desnutrición y la obesidad es a menudo mal entendida, así que me dio gusto facilitar una plática durante la cumbre sobre cómo las organizaciones religiosas se han unido con la iniciativa del Departamento de Agricultura de EE.UU. (USDA) conocida como La Mesa Completa y como parte de la iniciativa A Moverse Iglesias y Comunidades (Let’s Move Faith and Communities) para combatir el hambre y promover comunidades más sanas. Read more »