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All That Glitters Is Not Gold ….

Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week  is May 19-25. David Cappaert, Michigan State University.

Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week is May 19-25. David Cappaert, Michigan State University.

In this case it is green, a brilliant emerald green, and it is chomping its way through America’s forests. The emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis, may look pretty, but it is killing our ash trees in our forests and backyards.

This is Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week (May 19-25) and the time of year when you might see adult beetles flitting about among your ash trees. It is also the time of year you may unknowingly move this pest if you pack firewood when you kick off the summer camping season.  Read more »

Connecting Healthcare and Nutrition through the Summer Food Service Program

A child at a summer meals site enjoys a tasty and nutritious meal.

A child at a summer meals site enjoys a tasty and nutritious meal.

“Two is better than one.”  Holding true to this timeless adage, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is teaming up with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to expand the reach of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).  FNS strives to increase food security and reduce hunger by providing children and low-income people access to food, while HRSA is the primary Federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable.  There is an intrinsic mission overlap between FNS and HRSA given that their services target similar populations, and they have found a way to collaborate by rallying around SFSP. Read more »

Pennsylvania Lakeside Community Sewer Extension Has Minimal Impact

Nuangola lakeside homes, surrounding roads and outbuildings, are experiencing little impact during the sewer extension construction project.

Nuangola lakeside homes, surrounding roads and outbuildings, are experiencing little impact during the sewer extension construction project.

As a sewer extension project winds through the lakeside community portion of Nuangola, Pennsylvania, residents are experiencing minimal impact.  Last year, Nuangola Borough received $4.4 million in USDA Rural Development Water and Environmental Program (WEP) loans and $3.9 million in WEP grants to fund the installation of a low pressure wastewater collection system for the borough. Treatment of the wastewater collected will be done by the neighboring authority’s existing sewage treatment facility. The system will serve an estimated 420 homes. Read more »

Ensuring Modern, Timely Decisions for Infrastructure Projects

Today the Obama Administration announced a Presidential Memorandum that expands a government-wide effort to improve the Federal permitting and review process. This is a big step for USDA because it will help us ensure timely decision-making and review of infrastructure projects, while ensuring the environmental protections that stand at the heart of the review process.

It’s very important to President Obama and I that well-managed, beneficial projects aren’t held up by unnecessary delays. USDA is committed to the President’s goals of modernizing the permitting and review of infrastructure projects because our efforts are particularly important in rural America. By ensuring timely review of projects, we can better carry out our mission to strengthen community infrastructure and provide opportunities for rural America to create clean, renewable energy. By fostering greater transparency and predictability in the Federal permitting process, we’ll be able to deliver better value for the taxpayer while still avoiding negative impacts to our natural and cultural resources, which remain equally important drivers of economic opportunity. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: A Food, Farm and Jobs Bill: Helping Protect Our Natural Resources

This year, passage of a long-term, comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is critical to providing certainty for U.S. producers. This includes the continued availability of conservation programs that give our farmers, ranchers and private foresters the means to conserve the soil, protect our water and sustain America’s natural resources.

Thanks to programs provided by the Farm Bill, USDA has been able to enroll a record number of private lands in conservation practices. Over the past four years, we have worked with more than 500,000 producers, landowners and private foresters on projects that help the environment, while providing a new source of income.

From May 20 to June 14, USDA is holding the 45th General Signup under the Conservation Reserve Program – another important effort provided by a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. Read more »

From the White House Kitchen: Healthy and Traditional Asian American and Pacific Islander Cuisine

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! Blog:

Growing up in the Philippines, my mother was my main source of inspiration for cooking. I came from a family of eleven kids, and as a child, I would constantly volunteer to help her in the kitchen. My mother would prepare such amazing authentic Filipino food, and cooking for her was almost second nature. She didn’t think about it, she just knew what ingredients to use, how much of each to use, and how to combine their flavors in ways that would satisfy everyone in the family. So Filipino food for me is much more than just adobo, longganisa, or tocino and fried rice – it represents a huge part of my culture, and most importantly, it is what connects me with my family. And that’s why it’s so important to me that we think about Filipino food not just in terms of what’s delicious, but in terms of what’s healthy and nourishing for our families.

That’s why I’ve teamed up with Chef Ming Tsai, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help promote healthy and traditional Asian American and Pacific Islander cuisine. Following a healthy cooking and eating lifestyle has always been important for me as a chef and a mom, and with the USDA’s MyPlate food icon, we have a powerful visual reminder about how to build healthy meals for our families. Read more »