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USDA and National Weather Service Team Up to Provide 2013 Weather Outlook

USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum featured a weather outlook for 2013 during the final session of the two-day event in Arlington, Virginia.  Prior to the 2013 outlook—which was presented by National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Anthony Artusa—USDA meteorologists Brad Rippey and Eric Luebehusen recapped some of the key U.S. and Northern Hemisphere agricultural drought highlights, respectively, from the summer of 2012.  In particular, the U.S. heartland suffered through its worst agricultural drought in a generation, with effects similar to those observed in 1988.  Grain corn was the hardest-hit U.S. row crop, while the livestock sector was severely affected by a lack of feed due to drought-ravaged rangeland and pastures.  Meanwhile, a hotter-, drier‐than‐normal summer impacted crops from southern Europe into central and eastern Russia.  Hardest-hit crops included corn in Italy, Romania, and Bulgaria, as well as spring wheat in Russia’s Siberia District. Read more »

Spring for Food Safety

Food safety is a key ingredient for a successful meal. Visit FoodSafety.gov for more information on the four key food safety steps: clean, separate, cook and chill.

Food safety is a key ingredient for a successful meal. Visit FoodSafety.gov for more information on the four key food safety steps: clean, separate, cook and chill.

Ahh, Spring! This week, a new season is getting a nice kick-off with Passover and Easter holidays. These celebrations are filled with traditional meals that have unique food safety considerations that may or may not be included in the family recipe book. The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline has some food safety tips and steps here that, if added to your favorite recipes, can reduce the risk of food poisoning.  As with any food preparation, always remember to Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill. Read more »

Forest Service Innovation is Helping Make the Forever Stamp Stick, Well, Forever

A set of self-adhesive Forever Stamps (Steve Schmieding/U.S. Forest Service)

A set of self-adhesive Forever Stamps (Steve Schmieding/U.S. Forest Service)

Twenty years have passed since the U.S. Postal Service first started transitioning from lickable stamps to the peel-and-stick squares used today, thanks to the research by the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wis.

The two agencies first research collaboration focused on developing the peel-and-stick – or pressure-sensitive adhesives – that didn’t gum up the equipment used to recycle paper. By using this adhesive an additional 20 million tons of waste paper can be recycled annually. Read more »

A South Dakotan’s Commitment Advances Women’s History

In recognition of National Women’s History Month, the South Dakota USDA Rural Development staff salutes all of the inspiring, influential women who are making a difference in society at the local, state and national level.  In line with this year’s theme of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (SMART) we draw strength and inspiration through the tenacity of one woman’s journey, Dawn Emily Ottman.

After a career in the military followed by a decade of success as an engineer, Dawn sustained a head injury.  After years of relearning to walk and adjusting to her disability, she made the decision to work when she could, and not give up.  So what’s a woman to do when she spends her life contributing and now finds herself requiring too many “accommodations” in the workplace?  She creates her own job where she can accommodate her disability challenges.   And so it was in 2005, when CanDew Scientific, a small business of one employee and a renewable energy “green engineering” company was formed with assistance received through the Small Business Development Center (SDBC). Centers of this type are funded across the nation in part with assistance from USDA Rural Development. Read more »

Smokey Bear Hug Warms the Heart of Young Virginia Boy Battling Cancer

Six-year-old Nathan Norman and Smokey Bear share a moment together during a Feb. 25, 2013 visit to Nathan’s home.

Six-year-old Nathan Norman and Smokey Bear share a moment together during a Feb. 25, 2013 visit to Nathan’s home.

Six-year-old Nathan Norman counts Smokey Bear as one of his new best friends. The Rustburg, Va., boy recently met Smokey and a number of wildland firefighters and law enforcement officers from the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests as part of his hobby of reaching out to these first responders for cards and letters of support.

Nathan, diagnosed with brain cancer at 2 and with spinal cancer at 4, has spent much of his life in and out of hospitals. Read more »

USDA and EPA Make People’s Garden Blossom

The Midwest Region encouraged interns to participate in the People’s Garden as part of its Cultural Transformation efforts.

The Midwest Region encouraged interns to participate in the People’s Garden as part of its Cultural Transformation efforts.

It is amazing what successful partnerships we have developed through our USDA People’s Garden initiative in the Food & Nutrition Service’s Midwest Region. It’s been four years now since we began working with the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest Program to create our garden. The garden is a symbol of USDA’s history in connecting our people to the land. Throughout the years, we have helped maintain raised garden beds in one of Chicago’s most economically and socially challenged neighborhoods. Now we have expanded those efforts to include our federal neighbors and partners at the Environmental Protection Agency. Read more »