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Connecting Communities: Broadband for Rural America Benefits Us All

A Matanuska Telephone Association Lineman works to bring high-speed broadband to Chickaloon and Glacier View. Photo courtesy MTA.

A Matanuska Telephone Association Lineman works to bring high-speed broadband to Chickaloon and Glacier View. Photo courtesy MTA.

Today, Secretary Vilsack announced over $190 million of investment in broadband projects through USDA’s Community Connect program, the Public Television Digital Transition Grant, and the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program.

Time and time again, we hear stories about the significant impact USDA’s investments have in the lives of hard working Americans, and we know that an investment in our rural communities is an investment in America. Read more »

U-ACRE Creates Food for Thought for Los Angeles Hispanic Community

Like a thirst-quenching watering hole in nearby Death Valley, the Fullerton Arboretum is an oasis in the Los Angeles metro area food desert.

Located on the campus of California State University – Fullerton (CSUF), the arboretum is home to the Urban Agriculture Community-based Research Experience (U-ACRE).  U-ACRE gives hands-on, community-based research experience to 15 undergraduate students who help local communities develop sustainable urban agriculture to achieve food security and provide families healthier food options. U-ACRE is funded by a $295,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Read more »

Farm to School: The Taste of Washington State

Children sample local fare on Taste of Washington Day.

Children sample local fare on Taste of Washington Day.

Students at Conway Elementary School, in Mount Vernon, Wash., learned a few things about carrots last week. First, they don’t start out as “babies” in bags; they grow in the ground and have green tops. And second, as the third grade boys can attest, they’re good for an impromptu sword fight. Bugs Bunny likes them because they are crunchy, tasty and good for you all at the same time. Students here were chomping down for all those reasons, but also because the carrots came from a farm just down the road.

Ralph’s Greenhouse supplied the carrots to Conway Elementary, while across the state Oxbow Farm, Full Circle Farm, and Local Roots Farm provided produce to Riverview School District. And last week in Vancouver, students at Fort Vancouver High School brought potluck dishes made with produce grown in their school garden. Read more »

Scientists Work to Protect Trees in Southeast Alaska from Non-Native Longhorned Beetles

Alex Vaisvil, a student intern from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, lowers a Lindgren multi-funnel trap to lure longhorned beetles from the mid-canopy in the Tongass National Forest. Traps were located in the forest as part of a study to refine woodborer trapping methods in Southeast Alaska. (U.S. Forest Service/Elizabeth Graham)

Alex Vaisvil, a student intern from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, lowers a Lindgren multi-funnel trap to lure longhorned beetles from the mid-canopy in the Tongass National Forest. Traps were located in the forest as part of a study to refine woodborer trapping methods in Southeast Alaska. (U.S. Forest Service/Elizabeth Graham)

Non-native longhorned beetles are easily transported around the world in solid wood packing material, arriving in a new location with no natural enemies to control their populations. Across the country, many of these non-native beetles, particularly the Asian longhorned beetle, have killed tens of thousands of hardwood trees, especially in eastern states.

Will these pests ravage trees in Southeast Alaska? U.S. Forest Service specialists are working to determine ways to prevent the kind of devastation they’ve had elsewhere. Read more »

#AgStrong Innovation in Rural America

Almond growers are innovative in their water savings. This orchard uses micro-irrigation, which efficiently directs water. Photo courtesy of the Almond Board.

Almond growers are innovative in their water savings. This orchard uses micro-irrigation, which efficiently directs water. Photo courtesy of the Almond Board.

It takes a lot of hard work to make a living out of farming, to build a thriving agricultural business and it takes ingenuity. This is especially true in rural America, where dedicated farmers and ranchers rely on each other and the communities around them to fuel innovation and create opportunity. From nutritional research to competitions that promote sustainability and continued environmental care, ag promotion programs—with oversight from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)—help American farmers make long-term investments that ensure a better future for everyone.

For more than 30 years, California almond growers have pooled their resources under the Almond Board, focusing on research and techniques to make the most of precious water resources.  Efficient water use and irrigation management are vital to the success of California’s Central Valley almond growers, ensuring that consumer demand for almonds can be met sustainably.  State-of-the-art farming and production developments over the past two decades have helped farmers reduce the amount of water they use per pound of almonds grown by 33 percent. Key strategies have included the wide adoption of micro-irrigation as well as advances in soil assessment and monitoring. Read more »

Conservation Program to Launch Bold Ideas, Accelerate Innovation

NRCS Chief Weller talks with partners, conservation agencies and landowners during a conservation tour in Illinois.

NRCS Chief Weller talks with partners, conservation agencies and landowners during a conservation tour in Illinois.

When USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) launched the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, (RCPP) we envisioned a program that would help local and diverse organizations to accelerate innovation, bring new partners to the table, and demonstrate the value and effectiveness of voluntary, private lands conservation to a national audience.

The response was tremendous! More than 5,000 partners submitted nearly 600 pre-proposals from all 50 states and each critical conservation area. The total amount of NRCS funding requested was more than six times what was available. About $2.7 billion in federal assistance was requested, but incredibly these partnerships offered about $2.9 billion in leveraged conservation funding and in-kind support to deliver their projects. In the end, NRCS has about $394 million in total funding to co-invest in projects during this first signup. Read more »