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Feral Swine Removal Demonstration Project

Recently I traveled to New Mexico to meet with APHIS-Wildlife Services’ personnel for a firsthand view of their Feral Swine Removal Demonstration Project that aims to eliminate feral swine from the state.  Feral swine are an invasive species with a population that has grown from approximately 1 million in 17 states in the 1980s to more than 5 million across 38 states today.  If left unchecked, their numbers could exceed 10 million by 2018.  Feral swine carry more than 30 diseases that pose a potential threat to humans, livestock, and wildlife, and the total cost of feral swine damage to U.S. agriculture, livestock facilities, private property, and natural resources is estimated to be $1.5 billion annually.

Wildlife Services’ demonstration project is benefitting from tremendous cooperation with federal, state, tribal, and nongovernmental partners, including the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico Department of Agriculture, New Mexico State Land Office, and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, as well as with the Mescalero Apache Tribe, New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, New Mexico Wool Growers’ Association, affected counties and private land owners, among others. Read more »

Healthy Incentives Pilot Shows Small Investment Leads to Big Impact

Earlier today, Secretary Vilsack announced the results of the Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP) , a pilot project designed to test the impact of incentivizing fruit and vegetable purchases among SNAP recipients. The pilot showed that an ongoing investment of less than 15 cents per person per day may result in a 25 percent increase in fruit and vegetable consumption among adults. Adults receiving the HIP incentive consumed, on average, an ounce more fruits and vegetables per day than non-participants.

These are promising and exciting results. But we know that there is no silver bullet that can solve the problems of poor diet and obesity among American children and families. Despite increased public awareness of the vital role of nutritious food choices and proper physical activity on our health, the habits of most Americans—SNAP recipients and non-recipients alike—fall short of the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. And although research shows that healthy foods aren’t necessarily more expensive than less healthy options, many low income people face additional time and resource challenges when it comes to putting healthy food on the table that can make less healthy options seem more appealing. Read more »

Double Up Food Bucks Expands to Grocery Stores

The results of healthy incentives pilot released on July, 24, 2013 show that small investments can lead to increased fruit and vegetable consumption among SNAP recipients.

The results of healthy incentives pilot released on July, 24, 2013 show that small investments can lead to increased fruit and vegetable consumption among SNAP recipients.

Earlier today, USDA announced the results of the Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP) and additional efforts to empower low-income families with the knowledge and skills they need to purchase and prepare healthy foods using SNAP benefits. To make the announcement, Secretary Vilsack conducted a call with Dr. Oran Hesterman, President and CEO of Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Fair Food Network. Read more about Dr. Hesterman’s work and Fair Food Network’s project to improve SNAP recipients’ access to locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables in metropolitan Detroit below. Read more »

They’re Back! Web Cam Catches Sockeye Salmon Returning to Tongass Spawning Grounds

Through the end of August, you will get the chance to be entertained as sockeye salmon swim along Alaska’s Steep Creek as the adults spawn before swimming to their final deaths.

The Forest Service has placed the salmon cam in the creek on the Tongass National Forest so viewers world-wide have the opportunity to view fish in their natural setting. The ability to watch salmon in the wild is a treat for many people, but the underwater camera gives you a more intimate, unique look. Read more »

USDA Grant Recipient Featured as “America’s Best Ice Cream” on ABC’s Good Morning America

Twins Katrina and Will Edwards, both age 5, and their father Tim dig into ice cream at the Kelley's Country Creamery in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  The creamery started operations with assistance from two USDA Value Added Producer grants. USDA photo.

Twins Katrina and Will Edwards, both age 5, and their father Tim dig into ice cream at the Kelley's Country Creamery in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The creamery started operations with assistance from two USDA Value Added Producer grants. USDA photo.

What is your favorite thing about summer? Is it the longer days, trips to the lake, outings to a local amusement park, or family trips to get ice cream?

For my family, one of our favorite things is taking a family outing to a local farm and creamery, Kelley’s, for some homemade ice cream and making it a point to try a different flavor each time.

The national early morning show, Good Morning America (GMA) wanted to know what America’s favorite thing about summer is, so they asked viewers and the overwhelming response was – getting ice cream with family and friends.

Since July is National Ice Cream Month, GMA decided to find and showcase America’s Best Ice Cream. Read more »

Streamlined Design and New Features for USDA.gov

Over the past two years, USDA has undergone a major redesign of USDA.gov and most Agency and Office websites.  While we’ve taken major steps to improve the user experience and usability through a streamlined and modern look and feel, we continue to learn and expand on these improvements as we progress through our redesign processes.

As part of this redesign, we focused on further optimizing the homepage for ease of use and to maximize resource exposure for USDA.gov users based on Federal best practices and lessons learned from prior USDA Agency website redesigns. Web and social media analytics also provided key insights to popular content and user preferences, which we continuously evaluate to make adjustments to our digital content. Read more »