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Smokey Goes In for Checkup, Cleaning

Smokey Bear’s lasting message – Only You Can Prevent Wildfires! – resonates with 97 percent of adults.

Smokey Bear’s lasting message – Only You Can Prevent Wildfires! – resonates with 97 percent of adults.

One of America’s most well-known, beloved and important icons is going to have a little work done over the next several weeks in preparation for his upcoming 70th birthday in 2014.

The mechanical Smokey Bear that welcomes scores of visitors to the U.S. Forest Service headquarters building in Washington, D.C., is going in to have his fur checked, his motor – er, “heart” – fine-tuned and will undergo a thorough cleaning. Read more »

Forest Service Plants Disease-Resistant Trees at 9/11 Memorial in Pennsylvania

 

Looking up at the canopy of an American elm Tree. (USDA photo)

Looking up at the canopy of an American elm Tree. (USDA photo)

U.S. Forest Service-grown American elm trees were planted recently at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., where a hijacked flight headed toward the U.S. Capitol crashed Sept. 11, 2001, after passengers and crew overpowered the terrorists onboard.

In conjunction with National Park Week, the National Park Service conducted the tree planting at the Flight 93 National Memorial on April 20, one of four tree planting days planned at the site this year. Read more »

Making a Big Difference Through the Simple Act of Gardening

Volunteers planted an heirloom variety of tomato called ‘Abraham Lincoln’ in People’s Garden throughout the world to celebrate USDA’s 150th Anniversary in 2012. More than 11,800 pounds of Lincoln Tomatoes were harvested and donated to food banks.

Volunteers planted an heirloom variety of tomato called ‘Abraham Lincoln’ in People’s Garden throughout the world to celebrate USDA’s 150th Anniversary in 2012. More than 11,800 pounds of Lincoln Tomatoes were harvested and donated to food banks.

It’s National Volunteer Week and an ideal time to share how USDA employees and partners are volunteering their time to green communities and provide fresh food to those in need.

It all started in 2009 when Agriculture Secretary Vilsack established a Department-wide volunteer program for the People’s Garden Initiative. He encouraged every USDA employee to get involved by volunteering time and expertise to create a People’s Garden – a challenge he then extended to all Americans. Read more »

Organic 101: Sound and Sensible Approach to Organic Certification

The ‘Sound and Sensible’ initiative is about removing barriers to certification, and working with farmers, like the one pictured here, to correct small issues before they become larger ones.

The ‘Sound and Sensible’ initiative is about removing barriers to certification, and working with farmers, like the one pictured here, to correct small issues before they become larger ones.

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

Consumers purchase organic products expecting that they maintain their organic integrity from farm to market. Under the USDA organic rules, organic farmers must demonstrate they are protecting the environment, supporting animal health and welfare, and producing their products without the use of prohibited substances (including synthetic pesticides). Read more »

Two Generations Improve Their S.D. Property for Livestock, Wildlife

Grass may be abundant in the prairies of northwestern South Dakota, but the installation of water sources was essential for the Andersons to evenly distribute grazing across their pastures. Notice the dog keeping a watchful eye over his band! (Photo courtesy of the Anderson family)

Grass may be abundant in the prairies of northwestern South Dakota, but the installation of water sources was essential for the Andersons to evenly distribute grazing across their pastures. Notice the dog keeping a watchful eye over his band! (Photo courtesy of the Anderson family)

Conservation has long been a key element on Dan and Sharon Anderson’s ranch. The Andersons, who raise sheep and cattle west of Glad Valley in northwestern South Dakota, have a passion for healthy resources that grew out of respect for what conservation has done for their ranch.

In 1959, Dan’s father, James, purchased the ranch, which had seven pastures. With help from USDA’s Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural Resources Conservation Service), the elder Anderson started cross-fencing the larger areas to give his livestock better forage options and nutrition. When he took over the farm in 1990, Dan expanded this practice, continuing to work with NRCS to implement an extensive rotational grazing program. Today, the Andersons rotate both cattle and sheep around 32 pastures, with plans to divide the fields further. Read more »

Don’t Go Green this Spring, Greening Disease (HLB) Kills Citrus

Delicious citrus: Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service

Delicious citrus: Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service

It’s time to grab those gloves and get outside for some gardening!  April is not only a great time to plant citrus trees, but it’s also Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month. Before wielding that shovel, take a few minutes to learn how to keep your trees healthy and prevent the spread of citrus disease.

Citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB), is one of the most severe plant diseases in the world. The disease has devastated millions of citrus trees in the United States and now has the potential to eliminate the citrus industry.  Once a tree is infected with the disease, there is no known cure. Read more »