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Five Times Fast: Food Safety Gifts for Festive Foodies

These days, it seems everyone knows (or is) a foodie, a self-proclaimed guru of all things edible.  To add to the myriad of “foodie gift guides” shopping sites have created this month, the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline has put together a list of inexpensive kitchen essentials, most of which are small enough to fit inside a stocking or gourmet gift basket. The best part: these gadgets ensure the giftee will return the gesture with perfectly and safely roasted (or braised, smoked, flambéed…) treats this holiday season and year-round. Read more »

Make It Fun!

Powell Kids Pulling Beets: Students eagerly pulled out plants and were surprised at what they found! (in this case, turnips)

Powell Kids Pulling Beets: Students eagerly pulled out plants and were surprised at what they found! (in this case, turnips)

As fall was quickly turning into winter, we chose a brisk day in early November to close out gardening season with all of the students at Powell Elementary. Together, along with staff from the NHL’s Washington Capitals and USDA Executive Master Gardeners, we organized a harvest and “Salad Party” so all grades could pick ingredients for and create a salad with what they’d grown. We also used this day to maintain the Habitat Garden in the form of weeding, planting natives, mulching, and rebuilding paths. We were successful in both activities, putting the Habitat Garden “to bed” in celebration of Keep America Beautiful’s National Planting Day, and throwing one heck of a salad party. Read more »

USDA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Enter into Agreement to Improve Drought Weather Forecasting

President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa, on Monday, August 13, 2012 to view the drought stricken crops. The federal government has already taken some steps to ease farmers whose crops are growing poorly this summer, and the administration plans to spend close to $200 million on livestock, officials announced earlier in the day. The Department of Defense is encouraging vendors to buy meat to ease the crisis. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.

President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa, on Monday, August 13, 2012 to view the drought stricken crops. The federal government has already taken some steps to ease farmers whose crops are growing poorly this summer, and the administration plans to spend close to $200 million on livestock, officials announced earlier in the day. The Department of Defense is encouraging vendors to buy meat to ease the crisis. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.

USDA and other federal agencies continue to work to address the long term effects of last summer’s historic drought.

In the wake of a series of regional drought conferences with farmers, ranchers, business owners and other stakeholders, USDA is entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Commerce, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to improve sharing of data and expertise, monitoring networks, and drought forecasting efforts.  The MOU is a direct outcome of the regional conferences. Read more »

What’s Next for Agriculture? Secretary Vilsack Wants to Hear from You!

Ask Secretary Vilsack questions about emerging opportunities in agriculture using the hashtag #AskUSDA

Ask Secretary Vilsack questions about emerging opportunities in agriculture using the hashtag #AskUSDA

Last week we asked why young Americans should care about the Farm Bill by inviting you to use social media to help tell the story about what is at stake in your lives and communities. The response has been overwhelming! We read tweets from aspiring young scientists about the importance of the Farm Bill to their career. We received messages from business owners looking for ways to keep their family farms in the family for future generations. In fact, we were so struck by your feedback online, we thought that the best person to answer your questions and address your concerns would be Secretary Vilsack himself! Read more »

Rescue Dogs Sniff for Salamanders to Save Rare Species and Help People

Meet Frehley, a Border Collie rescued from the Seattle Animal Shelter who climbed the Jemez Mountains, clambering over rocks to track rare salamanders. Photo credit: Center for Conservation Biology.

Meet Frehley, a Border Collie rescued from the Seattle Animal Shelter who climbed the Jemez Mountains, clambering over rocks to track rare salamanders. Photo credit: Center for Conservation Biology.

Shelter dogs that are often rejected are getting a new lease on life. Plus they’re helping wildlife and people!  These conservation canines climbed the Jemez Mountains, clambering over rocks, running from smell to smell, to track where rare Jemez salamanders, a species found nowhere else in the world, are living in New Mexico. Read more »

Agriculture is Smart for Smart Growth

USDA Rural Development’s Business and Loan Guarantee Program supported new construction for an expanded Brattleboro Food Coop in Brattleboro, Vermont. The original plan for two stories was expanded to four thanks to an innovative partnership with the Windsor Housing Trust to develop mixed-income apartments.

USDA Rural Development’s Business and Loan Guarantee Program supported new construction for an expanded Brattleboro Food Coop in Brattleboro, Vermont. The original plan for two stories was expanded to four thanks to an innovative partnership with the Windsor Housing Trust to develop mixed-income apartments.

“Smart Growth” is a term we hear more and more often.  It is the idea that as communities plan for the future, they consider the highest and best use of every resource – land, infrastructure, organizations and people.    From housing to transportation to energy to food; community developers and planners are asking how Smart Growth principles can be applied to ensure a sustainable and dynamic future for their communities and their residents. Read more »