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How Can Rural Small Businesses Connect with USDA?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Small Business Connections is designed to provide small businesses and small farmer-owned cooperatives with the exposure and insight to help increase contracting participation with the federal government.  USDA’s continued commitment to broadening this access to contract opportunities stimulates small business ownership and economic growth, creates jobs, and results in improving the quality of life across America.

In support of the Obama Administration’s efforts to put Americans back to work and create an economy built to last, on Sept. 24 in Macon, Ga., the USDA Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization will host Rural Small Business Connections. This training event will provide small businesses with educational networking sessions and tips on how to successfully do business with USDA and other federal agencies. Read more »

FSA Keeps Third Generation in the Dairy Business

Eric and Allison are third generation farmers who used an FSA Operating Loan to take the business to the next level.

Eric and Allison are third generation farmers who used an FSA Operating Loan to take the business to the next level.

When Eric Johnson finished high school, he didn’t see cows in his future.

“I wanted a new adventure and I wanted to try something different after being on the farm my whole life,” said Eric. “I tried carpentry and later worked at a nursery as a landscaper laying paver patios and building rock walls.”

Landscaping didn’t employ year-round so he began work at a large dairy.  This is also how he met his wife Alison. “I enjoyed my work on the dairy farm and that’s when I realized I missed working on the farm where I grew up,” said Eric. Read more »

Celebrating Grey Towers’ Golden Anniversary

The Pinchot legacy continues for future generations with programs offered at Grey Towers. Credit: US Forest Service, Grey Towers NHS

The Pinchot legacy continues for future generations with programs offered at Grey Towers. Credit: US Forest Service, Grey Towers NHS

A beautiful, blue stone mansion with its slate roof and turrets, known as Grey Towers, in Milford, Pa. has been a sanctuary for visitors from around the world to learn about conservation and natural resources.

Fifty years ago on Sept. 24, 1963, President John F. Kennedy dedicated the Grey Towers National Historic Site and the Pinchot Institute for Conservation Studies as a “living memorial” to America’s first forester and two-term Pennsylvania governor, Gifford Pinchot. Read more »

Back to School with Statistics, Join USDA’s Virtual Open House

A new academic year is here for millions of students and teachers across the country, and in spirit of the many back to school nights and open houses taking place, I’m encouraging you to explore USDA’s International Year of Statistics Virtual Open House.

The International Year of Statistics, sponsored by more than 2,000 organizations – including the USDA – is a worldwide event to help teach everyone about the powerful and far-reaching effects of statistics. When people hear the word “statistics,” they often think of sports statistics or the course they took and struggled to pass. While you can think of statistics in these terms, there is more to the relationship between you and statistics than you may imagine. Read more »

Cover Crops Help Young Farmer Thrive

Russell Wire, a northwest Illinois farmer, found cover crops to be an excellent option for his operation. His cattle enjoy grazing quality forage, and his soil health is improving as well.

Russell Wire, a northwest Illinois farmer, found cover crops to be an excellent option for his operation. His cattle enjoy grazing quality forage, and his soil health is improving as well.

At age 8, Russell Wire knew he liked agriculture. That was when he raised some beef cattle for a 4-H project, eventually turning that project into a herd of 40.

This natural affinity makes sense—Wire, who lives in northwest Illinois, comes from a farm family. The 28-year-old is actually a fifth-generation farmer.

Since 2005, Wire has worked 40 acres of pastureland, and he’s grown corn on another 50 acres since 2011. Recently he decided to incorporate cover crops into his operation to provide more forage for his herd, prevent erosion and improve soil health. Read more »

Forest Service Reaches Latinos through Legacy Program

More than 1,500 inner-city youth from Houston Independent School District gather over a week-long period at Jones State Forest – Children’s Forest each year to participate in the annual Exploring Houston’s Backyard. The Bosque Móvil-Forest Mobile is one tool the U.S. Forest Service’s Latino Legacy program uses to provide learning experience around Texas.

More than 1,500 inner-city youth from Houston Independent School District gather over a week-long period at Jones State Forest – Children’s Forest each year to participate in the annual Exploring Houston’s Backyard. The Bosque Móvil-Forest Mobile is one tool the U.S. Forest Service’s Latino Legacy program uses to provide learning experience around Texas.

Roughly a decade ago, Tamberly Conway impulsively agreed to leave Key West, Fla., with a friend to serve as crew members on a 47-foot sailboat with a captain they barely knew. But somewhere between Key West and Guatemala, she began reevaluating her decision.

They got off the boat in Guatemala and spent the next year absorbing the Latino culture and Spanish language. She turned that unexpected experience into helping the U.S. Forest Service reach out to the Latino community. Along with her multiple degrees in natural resources, Conway connects Latinos to the natural world around them through such programs as Latino Legacy. Read more »