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USDA Offers Assistance to Tornado Victims

Following the devastating effects of tornadoes this week, USDA is offering assistance to those in need.  USDA offers many programs that can provide assistance to landowners, farmers, ranchers and producers during disasters.  No Presidential or Secretarial declarations are required for the provision of much of this assistance.

Agricultural producers are reminded that Federal crop insurance covers tornado damage, as well as other natural causes of loss.  Please remember to report your loss to your insurance agent or company within 72 hours and in writing within 15 days. Your insurance company will send out a loss adjuster as soon as they are safely able to do so and will document your insurance claim. Please remember that you cannot destroy your crop or plant a new crop until the loss adjuster or your insurance company has informed you that you can do so. Read more »

ERS Ag Research Counts

To recognize the contribution that research in agriculture makes in our daily lives, we’re focusing this month’s Science Tuesday blogs on the successes that USDA science agencies have achieved for us all.

Many of us use technology daily to communicate faster than ever before. And Economic Research Service (ERS) is part of that group, too.  Using state-of-the-art technology, our economists and analysts work hard to deliver timely, policy-relevant research on topics such as childhood obesity, global food security, and climate change  — issues that affect us all.  So, today we’re emphasizing the importance of economic information because “Ag Research Counts” every day, for every American. We’re continuing our trivia contest on Facebook with questions from past ‘Science Tuesday’ blogs.  You can weigh in on Twitter using the hashtag #AgResearchCounts. Here are this week’s blogs featuring ERS research that impacts each of us every day: Read more »

Camping with Kids? There’s a Method to this Madness

Mason “Amtchat” Edwards and his son walk along the trail spotting interesting notes of nature. (Photo by: Brian McNeal)

Mason “Amtchat” Edwards and his son walk along the trail spotting interesting notes of nature. (Photo by: Brian McNeal)

As an environmental educator, I’ve taken tons of kids outside for fun and educational experiences in the woods. Now, I am looking forward taking my own son out for his first discoveries and to create memories we’ll share for years to come. I figured I would share my personal camping tips with you. Plus, May 18 is National Kids to Parks Day; a perfect opportunity to help children explore nature.

Get the kids involved during the planning stages. Gauge what they are most excited about seeing or doing. Is it waterfalls or caves, searching deep in the forest for bugs or looking for larger animals like eagles or moose? The possibilities are endless. The things they are excited about can be used to reinforce behaviors like following instructions or being open to trying new things. Read more »

Military Veterans Trained in Firefighting Techniques through Forest Service and California Conservation Corps

Firefighter trainees dig out a fire line during the Forest Service and California Conservation Corps joint training session.  (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Firefighter trainees dig out a fire line during the Forest Service and California Conservation Corps joint training session. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The U.S. Forest Service has partnered with the California Conservation Corps to provide firefighter training for military veterans.

“Fire and Aviation Management is particularly appealing because of the significance of our mission and our well-defined organization,” said Robert Baird, deputy director of Fire and Aviation Management for the Forest Service. Read more »

Organic 101: Can GMOs Be Used in Organic Products?

This is the thirteenth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

The use of genetic engineering, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is prohibited in organic products. This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients. To meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances, such as GMOs, from farm to table.

Organic operations implement preventive practices based on site-specific risk factors, such as neighboring conventional farms or shared farm equipment or processing facilities.  For example, some farmers plant their seeds early or late to avoid organic and GMO crops flowering at the same time (which can cause cross-pollination). Others harvest crops prior to flowering or sign cooperative agreements with neighboring farms to avoid planting GMO crops next to organic ones. Farmers also designate the edges of their land as a buffer zone where the land is managed organically, but the crops aren’t sold as organic. Any shared farm or processing equipment must be thoroughly cleaned to prevent unintended exposure to GMOs or prohibited substances. Read more »

Snake River Project Protects Minnesota Town from Flooding

For years, the community of Warren, Minn., has experienced regular flooding problems from the Snake River. The events have endangered residents, their property and the surrounding farmland.

Working with the city and the Middle-Snake-Tamarac Rivers Watershed District, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has designed a flood control system for Warren with an off-river channel impoundment and a floodway that is helping to mitigate these inundations. Read more »