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Beginning Rancher Welcomes Assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service

From left: Flavio Garza, NRCS district conservationist, Jorge Espinoza, and Henry Gonzalez, NRCS rangeland management specialist, visit on Espinoza’s ranch about forage establishment. USDA Photo.

From left: Flavio Garza, NRCS district conservationist, Jorge Espinoza, and Henry Gonzalez, NRCS rangeland management specialist, visit on Espinoza’s ranch about forage establishment. USDA Photo.

Despite the ongoing drought in part of Texas, there are always people who want to get into the cattle raising business. A growing segment of these new beef producers are non-traditional small-tract landowners, such as Jorge Espinoza of Laredo.

Espinoza just purchased his first 50 acres, and he quickly learned that if he was to be successful, he needed expert advice.

Through word of mouth, Espinoza heard about USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency that works with farmers and landowners to implement conservation on private lands. Read more »

Be Prepared for Winter Driving in National Forests – Your Life Could Depend on it

Even the family dog enjoys cross-country skiing on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in California. (U.S. Forest Service)

Even the family dog enjoys cross-country skiing on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in California. (U.S. Forest Service)

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend tradition has long included the unofficial kick-off to ski season and a time when families head out to find their Christmas tree, and many times those events involve a trip to U.S. Forest Service lands.

Recreationists find some of the best downhill, cross-country and snowshoeing opportunities with 122 ski areas in 13 states using a total of 182,095 acres of Forest Service-managed land. Add to those opportunities snowmobiling and winter camping, which makes public lands a great family destination. With a permit, you can even find your perfect Christmas tree. Read more »

On The Road: Deputy Secretary Harden Tours Projects in Delaware and Pennsylvania

Ralph Cramer shows Deputy Harden some of the wreaths created with dried flowers from Cramer’s Posie Patch.

Ralph Cramer shows Deputy Harden some of the wreaths created with dried flowers from Cramer’s Posie Patch.

After a busy day at University of Delaware filled with a student roundtable and a visit to the UDairy Creamery, Deputy Secretary Harden awoke in Pennsylvania to tour the Conewago Watershed, a local flower farm and the YorKitchen incubator.

On a mild November Friday, Deputy Secretary Harden traveled through the scenic countryside of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her tour began with the Conewago Creek Watershed in Lancaster County, including visits to several trails, fencing, forested riparian buffers and stream crossings. Deputy Harden then stopped in at the Lebanon County Field Office to chat with staff from Natural Resources and Conservation Services and Rural Development. A winding trip through Lancaster County led to Cramer’s Posie Patch in Mount Joy, where she met with owners Ralph and Keith Cramer for a tour of their 47 acre wholesale fresh and dried flower farm. While the fresh cut flower season is over, the dried flowers from this year’s harvest depicted a time of vibrancy during the growing season. The dried and long-stem fresh flowers are sold to wholesale distributors for the creation of home décor arrangements and wreaths. Read more »

Don’t Let No-Show Guests Jeopardize Food Safety This Thanksgiving!

You’ve invited the guests, decorated the table and prepared the food. Then the guests are delayed, call to cancel or don’t show at all. Holiday meals and other celebrations require careful planning to ensure that everything goes as planned. When guests encounter emergencies and the meal must be delayed or cancelled, food must be handled “just right” to remain safe.

Every Thanksgiving, the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline receives inquiries from consumers who need help with these unplanned situations. Here are just a few. Read more »

¡No permita que invitados que no se presenten pongan en peligro la inocuidad alimentaria en el Día de Acción de Gracias!

Se han invitado familiares y amigos, decorado la mesa y preparado la comida. Entonces, los invitados están atrasados, llaman para cancelar o simplemente no se aparecen. Las cenas festivas y otras celebraciones requieren una planificación cuidadosa para asegurarse que todo resulte según planificado. Cuando los invitados afrontan emergencias y la comida debe ser retrasada o cancelada, ésta debe ser manejada “cuidadosamente” para continuar siendo inocua.

Cada Día de Acción de Gracias, La Línea Directa sobre Carnes y Aves del Departamento de Agricultura de los Estados Unidos de América recibe consultas de consumidores que necesitan ayuda con estas situaciones no planificadas. He aquí algunas de éstas. Read more »

Keeping it Close to Home: How USDA and Small Business Saturday Help Rural Businesses Thrive

Business Program Specialist Deborah Rausch, Ohio Rural Development State Director Tony Logan, Toia Rivera-Strohm and Brad Strohm show off local textiles from the VonStrohm Woolen Mill & Fiber Arts Studio in Pickaway County. The small business was awarded VAPGs in 2010 and 2012. (USDA photo)

Business Program Specialist Deborah Rausch, Ohio Rural Development State Director Tony Logan, Toia Rivera-Strohm and Brad Strohm show off local textiles from the VonStrohm Woolen Mill & Fiber Arts Studio in Pickaway County. The small business was awarded VAPGs in 2010 and 2012. (USDA photo)

By now, we’re all familiar with the uniquely American shopping frenzy known as “Black Friday.” Almost before the Thanksgiving leftovers are even in the fridge, Big Box stores throw open their doors, offering sales geared toward holiday shoppers wrangling for the best deals. Black Friday has become as much of a November tradition as pumpkin pie, but for the past few years, small businesses around the country have been offering an enticing alternative to the long lines and early wake-up calls that come with the craze. USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBCS) is pleased to join the White House, the Small Business Administration and 1,400 American communities in celebrating Small Business Saturday on November 30.

Small Business Saturday is all about buying local and shopping small. Shopping small for both holiday gifts and everyday items not only can save you money, it also offers you access to one-of-a-kind, locally-made products as an alternative to “cookie-cutter” gifts. Small Business Saturday is designed to support the businesses that drive commerce in small communities; businesses that account for 44 percent of the private sector payroll and create two out of every three new jobs in America. Read more »