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Keeping Animals Connected All Over the World

An African lion

African lions are vulnerable to habitat fragmentation and U.S. Forest Service landscape modeling identified fencing and corridors as suitable solutions in many countries. Photo credit: Sam Cushman

The landscape modeling expertise Samuel Cushman provides as a research ecologist at the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station is in demand worldwide as human-caused disturbances impact animal distribution, connectivity and survival.

Whether it’s clouded leopards in Borneo, lions in Africa, elephants in India, snow leopards in Central Asia or European brown bears, Cushman and his partners study what aspects of the landscape are truly important to animals, how they influence movement and genetic diversity, and which conservation plans will have the most impact. Read more »

Stronger Economies Together: Helping Rural Counties Excel through Regional Approaches

Soil scientist Gary Bañuelos evaluating canola plants

Canola is the subject of a rural economic growth project in Western Oklahoma. USDA ARS image

Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs) play a unique role in USDA’s service to rural America. They link the research and educational outreach capacity of the nation’s public universities with communities, local decision makers, entrepreneurs, families, and farmers and ranchers to help address a wide range of development issues.  USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) provides core funding for RRDCs and integrated research, education, and extension activities.

By Rachel Welborn, project manager with the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University

How can rural communities compete in an ever-expanding global market?

Rural counties across the country are finding innovative ways to capitalize on their local strengths.  Through a guided process, more than 400 counties in 38 states are discovering new ways to work together to grow their economies. Read more »

As the Weather Cools, Your Firewood Choices Matter

Don't Move Firewood pests graphic

Wood boring insect pests can continue their development deep within cut wood. They can emerge from wood left to sit outside to infest new areas.

This October, the Nature Conservancy’s Don’t Move Firewood campaign and Hungry Pests, an initiative from APHIS, are partnering to present the first-ever Firewood Awareness Month. The cooler nights and quickly approaching fall season brings an increase in RV camping, hunting, and home heating. Firewood Awareness Month looks to raise public awareness about the potential danger of firewood movement as a pest and disease pathway at this high-risk time of year.

Tree-killing invasive insects and diseases can lurk both inside, and on the surface, of firewood. While these insects and diseases don’t travel far on their own, transporting firewood allows them to move hundreds of miles and start infestations in new places, explains APHIS Deputy Administrator Osama El-Lissy. Read more »

National Farm to School Month Highlights Benefits to America’s Students and Communities

Vegetables in trays and pumpkins on top

The local foods offered through farm to school programs help school meal programs fulfill the updated nutrition standards with appealing and diverse offerings.

It’s National Farm to School Month and USDA’s Office of Community Food Systems is here to help…and not just in October!  All year long, we offer research, grants, training and technical assistance to help connect child nutrition programs with local foods.  Here’s why.

Farm to school helps form healthy habits. By incorporating local foods, farm to school programs help school meal programs fulfill the updated nutrition standards with appealing and diverse offerings.  And the results are impressive.  The recent 2015 USDA Farm to School Census shows farm to school programs now exist in every state in the nation and in every type of school district – large and small, rural and urban alike. With that in mind, we plan to build on this momentum! Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Jamie Clover Adams

Jamie Clover Adams

Jamie Clover Adams, Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Every month, USDA shares the story of a woman in agriculture who is leading the industry and helping other women succeed along the way. This month, we hear from Jamie Clover Adams, Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the first woman to serve in that position. Director Adams recently participated in a 10 day women-led USDA trade mission to China with Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Deputy Under Secretary Alexis Taylor. Read more »

New SNAP Pilot Provides Grocery Delivery for Homebound Disabled, Elderly

Cross-posted from the Disability.gov blog:

Your neighborhood grocer may be conveniently located just a few short blocks away. But for many persons with disabilities and the elderly participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the store might as well be on the other side of the world.

It’s a difficult problem that USDA’s new homebound food delivery pilot aims to alleviate, not just for the more than 4 million nonelderly adults with disabilities participating in SNAP, but also for the nearly 5 million seniors, who often face similar challenges and who may face disabilities, as well. Read more »