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SNAP Payment Accuracy Best on Record

I began this year by discussing the SNAP Stewardship Solutions Project, our ongoing efforts to further improve Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) integrity.  Halfway through the year, we have made significant progress: we are requiring more frequent reviews of higher risk retailers, expanding the definition of fraud to crack down on newer methods of SNAP benefit abuse, and establishing data-sharing agreements to help catch recipients that attempt to commit SNAP fraud.

We are working hard to ensure the taxpayer investment in SNAP is spent wisely, and that those who are eligible for the program receive the correct amount of benefits—not too much, and not too little. Read more »

NRCS Helps Provide Pollinator Habitat along S.D. Highway

The I-29 median planting seed mix included nine native wildflowers and three native prairie grasses. Photos by Thomas Tran, NRCS.

The I-29 median planting seed mix included nine native wildflowers and three native prairie grasses. Photos by Thomas Tran, NRCS.

Employees of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in South Dakota have a knack for seeing opportunities in the landscape. And recently, two of them initiated a highway beautification and pollinator habitat project.

In 2010, Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations Curt Elke and District Conservationist Kent Duerre coordinated a wildflower planting project along a stretch of Interstate 29 near the border with North Dakota. They started out by requesting that the South Dakota Department of Transportation allow them to establish an area of Interstate 29 median with native wildflowers and grasses, and offered their expertise as a resource for ensuring the result mimicked the native prairie. Read more »

Goats Grazing for Fuels Reduction on the Cleveland National Forest

Goats on the Cleveland National Forest nibble on vegetation to defend communities against wildfire by reducing regrowth. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Goats on the Cleveland National Forest nibble on vegetation to defend communities against wildfire by reducing regrowth. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Recently, 1,400 goats reported for duty with the U.S. Forest Service. Their mission:  Lend their appetites to the removal of fuels buildup on the Cleveland National Forest.

The goats were a part of a 100-acre forest-thinning project that begin in late April to clear a 300-foot community fuel break area between  the San Vicente/Barona Mesa communities and the forest. Read more »

Long-Term Agriculture Science Investment Is Seeing Pay-offs in Georgia

Today, I am in Athens, Georgia, visiting the University of Georgia (UGA) and meeting with university leaders, faculty, and students to learn about the great work being done here to advance agriculture and solve some of our most pressing challenges.

NIFA has a long history of investing in agricultural science, and for much of the research it takes years to see the payoff. I’d like to highlight two projects at the University of Georgia NIFA has funded that are seeing real outcomes today. Read more »

South Carolina Conservation Partnership Buzzing About Pollinators

This wildflower field at Dirt Works Incubator Farm, on John’s Island, in Charleston, S.C., provides important habitat for pollinator species. Photo by Nikki Seibert, Lowcountry Local First.

This wildflower field at Dirt Works Incubator Farm, on John’s Island, in Charleston, S.C., provides important habitat for pollinator species. Photo by Nikki Seibert, Lowcountry Local First.

Eighty-five percent of all flowering plants depend on pollinators, like bees and bats, to reproduce.

But these critical pollinators are in trouble as habitat loss, disease, parasites and environmental contaminants are causing a decline of many species, including some of the more than 4,000 species of native bees in North America.

That’s why USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in South Carolina and the Xerces Society, with the support of a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant, are promoting the benefits of pollinators through hands-on workshops targeted to employees of NRCS, soil and water conservation districts, cooperative extension agents and many others involved in agricultural production. Read more »

Agroecology Program: Ag Research is More than Farming

Florida International University Agro-Ecology graduate student Thelma Velez, right, explains an agricultural research project to area high school students.

Florida International University Agro-Ecology graduate student Thelma Velez, right, explains an agricultural research project to area high school students.

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 USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Some say careers in agriculture are a thing of the past, but don’t tell that to Krish Jayachandran, a professor and co-director of Florida International University’s (FIU) Agroecology Program. He will tell you that agriculture is the wave of the future—and he is backing that statement with nearly a decade of work to ensure the next generation of agricultural scientists are ready.

“If we are going to feed more than 9 billion people in the future, we have to get creative in how we use our soil and water resources—not to mention our over-reliance on the same kind of germplasm decade after decade,” Jayachandran said. “I tell students that agriculture research is not farming, it is science and technology. It’s thinking about bio-geo-chemical processes and nutrient cycling; on-farm and off-farm remediation measures, surface and groundwater management, and bioenergy.” Read more »