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NRCS Program Prevents Fuel Spill Disaster in Alaska

The relocated tank farm on a higher and drier site, away from the river’s edge. Photo courtesy Crowley Petroleum Distribution.

The relocated tank farm on a higher and drier site, away from the river’s edge. Photo courtesy Crowley Petroleum Distribution.

When a flood damaged the banks of the Yukon River in Fort Yukon, Alaska, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service stepped in to help prevent a major environmental catastrophe.

The citizens of Fort Yukon are predominantly Alaskan Natives who live a subsistence lifestyle, relying on fish from the Yukon River as one of their main food sources. The community is not accessible by road and all supplies are either barged in during the short summer or flown in at extreme expense. An entire year’s fuel supply for the village’s vehicles, heating and power is held in a 750,000 gallon tank farm. Read more »

USDA and Community-Based Organizations Partner for Ag Census

For a decade, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and community-based organizations (CBOs) have placed a high priority on improving the cover­age and response of minority and hard-to-reach farm and ranch operators in the Census of Agriculture. CBOs partner with NASS to help reach these underserved agricultural producers and encourage them to participate in the Census. As the CBOs educate and motivate the producers they serve to complete their Census forms, these producers become part of the data that represent the accurate picture of agriculture across the nation. The partnerships are serving both the CBOs’ mission of providing service to every producer and NASS’s goal of counting every farmer and rancher in the Census of Agriculture. In the following blog, one of NASS’s longstanding CBO partners, Ralph Paige, shares his thoughts on the importance of the ongoing 2012 Census of Agriculture. Read more »

USDA’s SuperTracker Diet Tool Reaches Two Million Users

A consumer uses the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ChooseMyPlate.gov website on Dec. 14, 2011. This is an interactive website used for creating customized healthy dietary plans that include required daily vitamins and minerals, and age and gender appropriate daily portions and calorie levels. Users can also tap tools called “Daily Food Plan,” “SuperTracker,” and “Food-a-Pedia” on this site. USDA photo by Stephen Ausmus.

SuperTracker is an interactive website used for creating customized healthy dietary plans that include required daily vitamins and minerals, and age and gender appropriate daily portions and calorie levels. Users can also tap tools called “Daily Food Plan,” “SuperTracker,” and “Food-a-Pedia” on this site. USDA photo by Stephen Ausmus.

I am pleased to report that over two million Americans are now using USDA’s SuperTracker, our online dietary planning and tracking tool!

Today, as never before, our awareness is heightened about the importance of healthy eating.  Cookbooks and diet books reign supreme in the bookstores.  There are entire TV channels devoted exclusively to food and, of course, stories of too many Twinkies, doughnuts and sodas provide constant fodder for the late night comedians.  A day doesn’t go by that new food-related research isn’t released.  Diet and health information abound on social media.  Grocery stores are constantly adding new, healthier products.  And communities across America are trying new and novel approaches to promote healthy eating. Read more »

USDA Staff in New Mexico, Wisconsin, Promote Business Development and Job Creation Efforts

“The Rural Business Enterprise Grant program (RBEG) is one of the most flexible economic development opportunities offered by USDA Rural Development.”  Those words from New Mexico State Director Terry Brunner kicked off a webinar workshop recently to discuss the RBEG program and how to apply for funds.

In the past, here in New Mexico, the RBEG has been used to fund business incubators, feasibility studies, business plans, and it has financed technical assistance programs for business development.

Earlier this month, the staff from Rural Development’s State Office in New Mexico hosted a workshop that gave a complete overview of the RBEG program explaining the funding is made available to public bodies, nonprofit organizations, public and private nonprofit institutions of higher education, and Indian tribes to facilitate and finance the development of small and emerging private business enterprises in rural communities and cities up to 50,000 in population. Read more »