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USDA’s 2012 Sustainability Scorecard

USDA’s 2012 Sustainability Scorecard showcases the Department’s ongoing commitment to meeting goals that reduce indirect greenhouse gas emissions, decrease energy use per square foot, increase renewable energy use, decrease potable water use per square foot, and incorporate sustainable building practices in new and existing buildings.

In 2012, USDA made significant progress in reducing indirect GHG emissions, largely associated with employee travel and commuting, resulting in an 18 percent reduction in indirect GHG emissions. In 2012, USDA consumed nearly 39,000 megawatt-hours of renewable energy, which translates to enough green energy to meet more than seven percent of the Department’s electricity use. Read more »

After Oklahoma Tornado, USDA Assists in Pet Rescues

Those impacted by the Moore tornadoes continue to be reunited with their animals. All Photos are Courtesy of the ODAFF.

Those impacted by the Moore tornadoes continue to be reunited with their animals. All Photos are Courtesy of the ODAFF.

“His name is Zeke,” read the Facebook posting after the May tornado that devastated Moore, Okla. “He’s a male boxer, almost 6 months old. Wearing green collar. Last seen near NW 63rd and Portland. He is fawn, black mask with white marking on face, chest and paws. We miss him very much. Please return.”

There are a lot fewer missing or homeless “Zekes” today due to the efforts of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (ODAFF) and partners who are working to reunite lost pets with their heart-stricken owners. Read more »

New Center Improves Lives of Kentucky Seniors, Creates Jobs

Recently, I spoke at the grand opening of the Daisy Hill Assisted Living facility in Versailles, Ky.  In visiting this facility, I reflected on the future of this and other facilities and their importance as we anticipate the droves of baby boomers seeking to maintain a quality of life as they transition to assisted-living.

The facility was financed through USDA’s Business and Industry Guarantee Loan program.  The $4.5 million loan guarantee to Pinnacle National Bank of Nashville has provided the owners an opportunity to create a beautiful facility for the residents. Read more »

10 Years Later, a Shelterbelt Proves to Be a Wise Investment

Ken Mouw created a shelterbelt 10 years ago on his Elk Point, S.D. as a way to fortify his farm against the harsh winter winds.

Ken Mouw created a shelterbelt 10 years ago on his Elk Point, S.D. as a way to fortify his farm against the harsh winter winds.

South Dakota’s harsh winters can be tough on a farm or ranch, and conservation improvements like a shelterbelt can help shield buildings, crops and livestock from the wind and snow. Ken Mouw, a CEO-turned-farmer, has used a shelterbelt—a band of trees and shrubs—to protect his Elk Point, S.D. farm against rough weather over the past 10 years.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Union County Conservation District helped Mouw design the shelterbelt, consisting of trees and shrubs of different heights and densities that all work together to protect from the northern and western winds, keeping snow from collecting in his driveway during a snow storm. Read more »

NIFA 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.

For over a century, USDA research has spurred innovation and created many great products for our families, but we haven’t done it alone. Partnering with a vast network of university scientists — as well as other federal agencies, private industry, and other groups — the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports agricultural research and extension through competitive grants on topics of great importance to us all. NIFA is also committed to educating our youth in science and agriculture, supporting opportunities for rural communities, 4-H, and scholars programs. So, today we’re focusing on the research of NIFA and its partners because “Ag Research Counts” every day, for every American. We’re continuing our trivia contest on Facebook with questions from past ‘Science Tuesday’ blogs. Feel free to participate on Twitter using the hashtag #AgResearchCounts. Here are this week’s blogs featuring NIFA-funded research that impacts each of us every day: Read more »

‘We Remember Them Every Day’

U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Kristine Fairbanks and K9 "Hero." (U.S. Forest Service photo)

U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Kristine Fairbanks and K9 "Hero." (U.S. Forest Service photo)

They are fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, and sisters and brothers. They served in remote corners of the forests and grasslands, helped lost recreationists find their way and arrested people who were violating the law.

They were our friends and colleagues who lost their lives in the line of duty. Read more »