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USDA, Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Invite You to Get Involved in Conservation Efforts

Low Elevation Spray Application and Low Energy Precision Application systems are being used on the Gonzales’ alfalfa field in Lovington, NM. This month, USDA celebrates our partnerships to encourage  conservation practices on both public and private lands.

Low Elevation Spray Application and Low Energy Precision Application systems are being used on the Gonzales’ alfalfa field in Lovington, NM. This month, USDA celebrates our partnerships to encourage conservation practices on both public and private lands.

America’s farmers, ranchers and forest owners have a great tradition of stewardship of our natural resources and environment. The U.S. Forest Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other USDA agencies work in partnership with farmers, ranchers, forest owners, conservation groups, sportsmen, local communities, businesses and many others to encourage the conservation of both our public and private lands. This month – National Conservation Month – the Forest Service and NRCS are making several announcements that highlight the commitment of USDA and its partners to natural resource stewardship on public and private lands.

Later today, Secretary Tom Vilsack will announce the latest round of recipients for the NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants program (CIG). These grants stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches that improve the productivity of farms, ranches and forests while enhancing the environment. For example, last year the University of Delaware used a CIG grant from NRCS to assist poultry producers in improving their operations and their environmental performance, and helping them comply with federal and state environmental quality requirements. Read more »

Our Nation’s Schools are Trending toward a Healthier School Day

Schools, teachers and school nutrition professionals across the nation are working hard to make the school day healthier. According to a new study by the CDC, schools across the nation are embracing healthier policies, such as increased physical education, reducing kids’ exposure to tobacco, and of course, improving the nutrition environment at schools.   Children who participate in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program are now getting more balanced meals – with less fat, sodium and sugar, and more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy – to help them grow healthy and strong. Starting next year, snacks and a la cart options will also offer more of the foods we should encourage, and less of the foods we should avoid. Read more »

2013 USDOT TIGER Awards Help Rural Communities Thrive

Rural communities are the life blood of our great nation. Here at USDA we work every day to make sure that rural Americans have access to programs that help them create opportunity across America’s small towns and communities.

Tomorrow, I will sit down with the members of the White House Rural Council to discuss ways we can continue to address the many unique challenges facing rural America. Today, in advance of our meeting, I am pleased to highlight an effort by the U.S. Department of Transportation to strengthen one of the key objectives of the White House Rural Council by increasing access to dependable transportation in rural communities across 23 states.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx explains more about this effort in a blog from the U.S. Department of Transportation Blog: Read more »

Conservation Work Has a Place in Your Backyard

This backyard pond in Palm Beach, Fla. features a variety of wetland plants.

This backyard pond in Palm Beach, Fla. features a variety of wetland plants.

Whether you live in the country, on an average-sized suburban yard, or on a tiny plot in the city you can help protect the environment and add beauty and interest to your surroundings with backyard conservation.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service works with farmers and ranchers to make conservation improvements to their land, resulting in cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better habitat for wildlife.

But conservation work is not just for farmers or ranchers. You can help protect natural resources, whether your place is measured in acres, feet or flower pots. Read more »

The US Forest Service Wants You to See Fall Colors – No Matter Where You Live

A surreal blend of colors harkens at winter yet provides peaceful warmth to fall on the Nez Perce National Forest in Idaho. While some may feel fall colors signals the end of summer, others see it as the beginning of the rebirth of spring. (U.S. Forest Service)

A surreal blend of colors harkens at winter yet provides peaceful warmth to fall on the Nez Perce National Forest in Idaho. While some may feel fall colors signals the end of summer, others see it as the beginning of the rebirth of spring. (U.S. Forest Service)

What to see, when to see it, and where to see it is what the U.S. Forest Service 2013 Fall Colors web pages are all about — making the colors of fall that much easier to find, appreciate and understand.

The glorious colors that come with autumn across our nation should not be missed. From New Hampshire to Arkansas and from Alaska to Virginia, and nearly every state in between, the changing shades of leaves from green to brilliant reds, vibrant oranges and golden yellows is a must see. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Why a Farm Bill Extension Won’t Work

In just a few days, Congress will come back to Washington, D.C. and Rural America is counting on passage of a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible.

In January, Congress extended some of the 2008 Farm Bill programs for nine months. This didn’t include important disaster assistance programs for farmers and ranchers. On September 30, many of these programs will expire, leaving producers and rural communities without a wide variety of Farm Bill programs.

While Congress has already extended these programs once, another extension of current law isn’t common sense and it won’t solve this challenge. Read more »