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Arkansas Poultry Farmer Cuts Costs & Reduces Carbon Footprint

Stanley Lee has put more efficient light bulbs in his chicken houses and made other updates that lower his carbon footprint.

Stanley Lee has put more efficient light bulbs in his chicken houses and made other updates that lower his carbon footprint.

It can take a lot of energy to raise chickens as farmers have to control the temperature and lighting in houses, meaning high costs and high energy use.

But with help from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, poultry producers can cut their costs while conserving energy.

One Benton County, Ark. producer is cutting his gas and electric bills while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Stanley Lee did this by installing radiant heaters, light-emitting diode light bulbs, or LEDs, and attic insulation in his six chicken houses that shelter 890,000 chickens each year. Read more »

USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Visits Colorado’s USDA Employees and Tours Flood Impacted Areas

Undersecretary Robert Bonnie (second from left) is briefed by NRCS Soil Conservationist Don Graffis.  Graffis discussed  NRCS recovery efforts in the wake of a 2013 flood near Lyons Colorado. NRCS photo.

Undersecretary Robert Bonnie (second from left) is briefed by NRCS Soil Conservationist Don Graffis. Graffis discussed NRCS recovery efforts in the wake of a 2013 flood near Lyons Colorado. NRCS photo.

Recently, Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie visited Colorado to connect with USDA employees in the wake of the government shutdown.  On the morning of Wednesday, October 23rd Undersecretary Bonnie traveled to Fort Collins to host a USDA “family meeting” and listen to nearly 100 employees as they shared comments, asked questions, and voiced concerns. The Undersecretary fielded numerous questions during the structured event, while after several employees shared their appreciation for the chance to hear from and interact with leadership within the Department.

Later in the afternoon the Undersecretary participated in a tour that helped provide a hands-on account of the impact and devastation resulting from the recent flood which was only compounded because of the 2012 wildfires.  The first leg of the tour was led by Donald Graffis, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) soil conservationist in Longmont, Colo., while Sylvia Clark, Forest Service (FS) district ranger in Boulder coordinated the second half.  Phyllis Ann Philipps, NRCS State Conservationist in Colorado and Dan Jiron, FS Regional Forester were also on hand during the tour. Read more »

GIPSA’s National Grain Center Hosts Secretary Tom Vilsack

Sec. Tom Vilsack visited the grain grading laboratory of GIPSA's Board of Appeals and Review (BAR) and the Grading Service Laboratory (GSL) on October 23, 2013.   BAR staff explain their grading review process while BAR Chairman Jim Whalen looks on.

Sec. Tom Vilsack visited the grain grading laboratory of GIPSA's Board of Appeals and Review (BAR) and the Grading Service Laboratory (GSL) on October 23, 2013. BAR staff explain their grading review process while BAR Chairman Jim Whalen looks on.

The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA) National Grain Center (NGC) was proud to host Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday, October 23.  The NGC, located in Kansas City, MO, is home to the Federal Grain Inspection Service’s (FGIS) Technology and Science Division along with staff from FGIS’ Quality Assurance and Compliance Division and Field Management Division.

The grain inspectors, scientists and engineers at the NGC provide a broad spectrum of grain inspection services and support within recently renovated state of the art laboratories.   During the visit, NGC staff demonstrated how they oversee, develop and approve methods and instruments used for grain inspection that ensure the consistent standard of measuring quality essential to grain marketing. Read more »

Ag Statistician Goes from NCAA to NASS

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

2013 is the International Year of Statistics. As part of this global event, every month this year USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will profile careers of individuals who are making significant contributions to improve agricultural statistics in the United States.

Growing up in Texas, you’re never far removed from agriculture. Even though I grew up in Houston, my grandparents had a beef operation and I’ve always believed that agriculture is simply in my blood. I also knew that I had a passion for numbers, so when time came for me to pick a college major, Agricultural Economics seemed like a great combination of my two passions.

I earned my degree from Prairie View A&M University in Texas. During my junior year, I joined USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Texas Field Office as an intern, which ended up transforming into a full time position with the agency’s Arkansas office after my graduation. Read more »

On the One Year Anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, USDA Looks Ahead

U.S. Forest Service crewmember Bill Scripp finishes the job of sawing downed trees at Forest Park in Queens, NY on Nov. 4, 2012 to make passage safe for residents. The park is a major walking thoroughfare, including popular recreational trails. Bill Scripp belongs to the Wayne National Forest, in Ohio Valley, OH. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.

U.S. Forest Service crewmember Bill Scripp finishes the job of sawing downed trees at Forest Park in Queens, NY on Nov. 4, 2012 to make passage safe for residents. The park is a major walking thoroughfare, including popular recreational trails. Bill Scripp belongs to the Wayne National Forest, in Ohio Valley, OH. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.

All this week, Americans are pausing to reflect on the devastation caused when Hurricane Sandy slammed ashore on the eastern seaboard.  Over 160 people died, property was damaged, lives were disrupted, families were torn apart and jobs were affected.

USDA helped the recovery effort in a number of ways, and while we are proud of our work, we also learned from the experience in order to assist those affected by future catastrophes.

Our first task was helping those who were facing hunger.  Following a disaster, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) provides nutrition assistance to disaster survivors through disaster USDA Foods Distribution Programs and by authorizing the implementation of the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D­ SNAP).  In addition, FNS approves waivers that simplify the SNAP benefit replacement process to aid ongoing SNAP households affected by a disaster. Read more »

Farm to School Programs Come to Life on Video

In this video from Georgia Organics kids take a survey after tasting new foods.

In this video from Georgia Organics kids take a survey after tasting new foods.

Right before the Academy Awards I race around trying to see all the films that have been nominated. And right about now, with Farm to School Month about to come to a close, I’m feeling the same way about trying to absorb all the great information being shared this month.

As the USDA Farm to School Census shows, schools across the country are putting local foods on the school menu at breakfast, lunch and dinner; taking trips to the farm; integrating lessons about food and agriculture into the school’s curriculum; and sowing seeds in school gardens.

Lucky for me, and you, more and more school districts are documenting their good work through film. I took a break recently and got caught up. Here are just a few videos that I’d nominate for an Academy Award if there were a category for “Best Local Lunch Video.” Read more »