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Research, Public Can Help Bats Survive White-Nose Syndrome

Little brown bats, like these found in a cave in Maine in 2013, are increasingly being found with white-nose syndrome. The U.S. Forest Service is researching many angles to help wildlife managers and the public to combat the disease. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Little brown bats, like these found in a cave in Maine in 2013, are increasingly being found with white-nose syndrome. The U.S. Forest Service is researching many angles to help wildlife managers and the public to combat the disease. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Take a moment to look at the night sky and watch the swift flight of bats on their daily mission as they dart through your backyard or forest. Now, think about how it’s becoming harder to spot these winged wonders, and ask why. The answer: The quickly growing spread of a disease known as white-nose syndrome has been decimating bat populations, as explained in a recently released film on the subject.

This increasingly devastating disease has killed more than six million bats in just six years, a serious problem for a creature that provides so many benefits to the environment – as both a plant pollinator and as a major predator in keeping insect populations in check. Read more »

America’s Nutrition Safety Net Remains Strong

SNAP benefits help millions of American families in need put food on the table.

SNAP benefits help millions of American families in need put food on the table.

As Administrator of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, I’m encouraged by the strong support the new Farm Bill gives the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Millions of American families can now be assured that they will have continued access to healthy food as they return to work and rebuild in the wake of tough times. As we move forward, though, I think it’s a good time to highlight some of the facts about this vital program that may not be widely known. For example, did you know: Read more »

USDA Collection Preserves Garlic’s Genetic Diversity

“This group of diverse garlic germplasm represents all the types that might be found at a farmer’s market.” Photo courtesy of Barbara Hellier, ARS

“This group of diverse garlic germplasm represents all the types that might be found at a farmer’s market.” Photo courtesy of Barbara Hellier, ARS

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 the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Raw or dehydrated, garlic is a staple ingredient in dishes the world over. This herb, Allium sativum, is also the focus of medical research investigating the health-imparting properties of allicin, a compound that gives garlic its pungent aroma and flavor.

Americans consumed 2.3 pounds of garlic per person in 2010. Perhaps most familiar to consumers is the large white bulb commonly sold in supermarkets. But there’s more diversity there than meets the eye, or the taste buds, says USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) horticulturist Barbara Hellier. Read more »

New MyPlate Resources for Adults and Teens

USDA and HHS jointly release new 10 Tips to help women, men, and teens in making healthy choices!

USDA and HHS jointly release new 10 Tips to help women, men, and teens in making healthy choices!

March is National Nutrition Month®, the time we remind ourselves of the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.  Four new MyPlate 10 Tips have been developed to target women, teen girls, men, and teen guys. Find them online at ChooseMyPlate.gov!  These new 10 Tips provide accurate, informative nutrition resources for women, teen girls, men, and teen guys through the 10 Tips Nutrition Education series.

The four new resources target: Read more »

High Tunnel, Conservation Planning Help Local Food Mission

Kate Paul operates a community supported agricultural operation in Minnesota. NRCS photo.

Kate Paul operates a community supported agricultural operation in Minnesota. NRCS photo.

When Kate Paul was a girl in northern St. Louis County, Minn., she enjoyed working in the large family garden near her grandfather’s farm. She loved spending time amid the rows of plants, watching seeds germinate and become plants that provided delicious vegetables for her family.

When she left her hometown for college and graduate school, she was able to continue her passion for farming. While living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, she volunteered at a community supported agriculture operation (a CSA).

“I was inspired by the wherewithal of the family that worked the land,” she said. “I was also inspired by the network of community members who gained more than just healthy, fresh food from the farm but also gained a connection to the farm, the farmers and other farm members.” Read more »

Building Economic Opportunities in Alaska Native Villages through Rural Development and USDA’s StrikeForce For Rural Growth and Opportunity

(L – R) Jim Nordlund, State Director – Alaska RD and 90 year old Xenia Nikoli, a resident of the village of Kwethluk. Photo credit: Tasha Deardorff

(L – R) Jim Nordlund, State Director – Alaska RD and 90 year old Xenia Nikoli, a resident of the village of Kwethluk. Photo credit: Tasha Deardorff

When I traveled to Alaska with USDA StrikeForce National Coordinator Max Finberg last month, our eyes were opened to both the beauty of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region and the challenges of living in that landscape.  We were heartened to see firsthand that USDA’s investments are improving the lives and well-being of Village residents and their communities.  That support will be augmented by the expansion of USDA’s StrikeForce For Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative (StrikeForce) into the western and interior regions of Alaska.

The StrikeForce Initiative is part of USDA’s commitment to growing economies, increasing investments, and creating opportunities in rural communities facing extreme poverty. Ten southeastern Alaskan boroughs and areas joined the StrikeForce efforts in 2013.  This year, we expanded the number to eighteen to reach the northwest and interior of the state. Read more »