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Forest Service Book Answers a Kid’s Question: Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down?

At the end of the book, “Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down?” the illustration depicts children planting trees. (Illustration by Juliette Watts, U.S. Forest Service)

At the end of the book, “Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down?” the illustration depicts children planting trees. (Illustration by Juliette Watts, U.S. Forest Service)

Some children are unaware that in order to reduce tree hazards, protect other trees, or to get wood, it is necessary to cut trees.

So the recently published book “Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down?” is intended to raise awareness of the issue. The book, which primarily targets first to third grade students, also features tips for planting a new tree. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Groundbreaking Research Provided by a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill

This year, USDA is committed to helping Congress get a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill passed as soon as possible. This is critical to provide certainty for U.S. producers, while giving USDA the tools we need to continue strengthening the rural economy.

Without a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, one area that would be seriously impacted is USDA’s agricultural research.

For more than 100 years, USDA scientists and their partners have made tremendous advancements. They’ve developed more nutritious foods, invented new medicines and fabrics, improved food safety, learned more about the production of many different plants and animals, and helped create new ways to use plant materials for incredible biobased products.  Read more »

19-Year-Old Hopes to Retire and Farm

At age 19, Austin Midkiff has already made plans to retire at a young age and farm the rest of his life.

At age 19, Austin Midkiff has already made plans to retire at a young age and farm the rest of his life.

Austin Midkiff thinks, breathes and lives farming. It’s all he has done since he was six years old.

By the time he was 14, he took over his grandparent’s 10-acre farm in Springdale, W.Va.

“When I turned 16 my grandparents sold everything to me in order to teach me how to get things on my own and start from scratch,” said Midkiff. “It’s hard starting off.” Read more »

Digging Deep for Clean Water in Illinois

After two decades in the making, 71 households in rural Jefferson County, Illinois have begun to see the benefit of hard work and perseverance.  And the end result is as simple as turning on the faucet! Moores Prairie Township Water Company celebrated last month as a project they’ve dreamed of for 23 years finally comes to fruition. Prior to the completion of this initiative, Moores Prairie Township residents and farms utilized a combination of shallow wells, deep wells, cisterns and purchased water to provide their water supply.

Residents realized that their dependency upon private water cisterns represented a serious threat to their health and safety, and began looking at options at the same time of the advent of the internet…1990!  Although they continued to face struggles in obtaining a water connection and funding source, they never gave up. In June 2010, the Moores Prairie Township Water Company was formed and discussions with USDA Rural Development ensued, resulting in a $318,000 low interest loan for 40 years and additional grant funds to help fund the project.  Construction began last year, and the system was placed into operation in April. Read more »