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Connecting Local Residents with USDA Services

USDA staff members meet with farmers and ranchers to talk about available assistance in South Carolina.

USDA staff members meet with farmers and ranchers to talk about available assistance in South Carolina.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps farmers and ranchers use conservation to help the environment while improving agricultural operations. But not everyone knows about the variety of programs and services offered through USDA agencies.

USDA recently launched an effort to ensure the department is reaching landowners and rural citizens of different backgrounds. Through USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity, USDA is intensifying outreach efforts in places with persistent poverty. For example, NRCS’ goal is to reach landowners with farms and ranches of all types and sizes.

Sixteen states, including South Carolina, identified StrikeForce counties, where more than 20 percent of the population has been considered persistently impoverished for the past three decades. Read more »

Dive Deeper Into USDA Data with New APIs

Data consumers can now more easily leverage several of the most popular offerings from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS)!

To meet the needs of a growing community of data users, including application developers and researchers, ERS has just released seven new APIs (Application Programming Interface), enriched with shared services provided by other Federal agencies.  The APIs offer dynamic access to ERS’s atlases, traditional data sets, and indicators in machine-readable formats.  ERS has developed rigorous standards for data products; users will note the extensive metadata and full documentation and transparency provided for each of the data sets via APIs.

Experienced users may want to dive into the thorough documentation available on ERS’s Developer page; while those seeking a simpler path can leverage pre-built widgets and starter-code snippets available in jQuery, Python, and Ruby.  The geospatial APIs provide access to map layers via ESRI (or other mapping services, such as Mapbox and Google Maps).  The newly released APIs supplement the following data sets: Read more »

Giving the Gift of a Healthier Future this Holiday Season

The following OpEd was posted by Huffington Post this afternoon:

No one should go hungry in America, and certainly no child should go hungry, especially at the holidays.

We know kids who have access to proper nutrition and develop healthy habits at an early age have a competitive advantage in the classroom and later in life. Without easy access to healthy food, kids have a harder time growing up healthy, strong and ready for the workforce. Read more »

Smokey Makes a Slam-Dunk at Denver Nuggets Event

Smokey waves to the crowd at the pre-season opener with Nuggets mascot Rocky at center court. (U.S. Forest Service/Todd Riecks)

Smokey waves to the crowd at the pre-season opener with Nuggets mascot Rocky at center court. (U.S. Forest Service/Todd Riecks)

The National Basketball Association’s Denver Nuggets honored U.S. Forest Service Hotshot crews and first responders throughout the state of Colorado at a recent Fans and Heroes Night in Denver.

The U.S. Forest Service participated in activities before, during and after the game with Smokey Bear attending his first NBA game in Colorado. Smokey encouraged fans to be prepared for emergencies and gave two big “paws up” to the men and women who serve their communities as first responders. Read more »

No Permitas que las Bacterias Arruinen tu Fiesta

Quienes están listos para una fiesta, no se imaginan enfermos en cama poco después de esta. Pero eso es lo que pudiera ocurrir si la comida en los “buffets” no es manejada y servida con inocuidad. Las bacterias son aguafiestas y el único regalo que traen es una enfermedad transmitida por los alimentos.

¿Cómo es que las bacterias arruinan las fiestas?  Se “enganchan de paseo” en alimentos perecederos dejados a temperatura ambiente sin ser mantenidos fríos a 40 °F (4.4 °C) o menos, o caliente a 140 °F (60 °C) o más. Esto es conocido como “Zona de Peligro”; es decir, la zona entre 40 ° y 140 ° F,  es donde las bacterias crecen y se multiplican de manera exponencialmente, duplicándose en número cada 20 minutos. Read more »

Don’t Let Bacteria Crash Your Party

People dressed for a holiday party don’t picture themselves sick in bed shortly after the festivities, but that’s what could happen if food on party buffets isn’t handled and served safely. Bacteria are party crashers, and the only housewarming gift they bring is foodborne illness.

How do bacteria crash parties? They hitch a ride on perishable foods left out at room temperature without being kept cold (40 °F and below) or hot (140 °F and above). This is called the “Danger Zone” temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F where bacteria grow and multiply exponentially, doubling in number every 20 minutes. Read more »