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Global Event Hatches Backyard Poultry Software

A screen shot from the winning app.

A screen shot from the winning app.

Coming one day to a smartphone or tablet computer near you: An application that helps backyard poultry farmers protect their birds from disease. It might even help make them profitable, if you want.

That’s the plan after a team of Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) officials announced the winner of NASA’s 2013 International Space Apps Challenge. Billed as “the largest hackathon ever” to solving a range of problems in space – and here on Earth – the April event drew more than 9,000 people in 83 cities across 44 countries and all seven continents. Read more »

USDA Continues to Provide Assistance to Oklahoma Tornado Survivors

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rural Development (RD), Okalahoma State Director, Ryan McMullen delivers refreshments to disaster relief workers. USDA photo by Kathleen James.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rural Development (RD), Oklahoma State Director, Ryan McMullen delivers refreshments to disaster relief workers. USDA photo by Kathleen James.

USDA personnel continue to assist the State of Oklahoma and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the wake of the tornadoes and heavy rains that occurred this week.

Earlier this week, USDA announced that it was working to assist Oklahomans who were left homeless by providing FEMA with a list of vacant USDA-financed apartments in the area.  USDA is also working with FEMA by providing information on vacant government-financed single family homes.  Individuals needing immediate help finding emergency housing are asked to contact FEMA directly. USDA is also working to assist owners of USDA-financed homes in the disaster area that have direct or guaranteed mortgages.   If you have questions about your USDA mortgage, please call USDA’s Centralized Servicing Center at 800-414-1226.

Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Taking Time to Remember the Fallen

This Memorial Day weekend, I hope all Americans will take a moment to honor the service of those who have lost their lives defending our nation. America is a beacon of freedom and democracy today, in no small part because of those who throughout history stood in defense of our values and principles.

We must also remain united in our commitment to today’s active and reserve service members, our veterans, and their families. Read more »

USDA Helps Xenia Rural Water District in Iowa Find a Path to Financial Viability

Pictured in Minburn, Iowa, are John Padalino and Deb Lucht, general manager, Minburn Communications.  USDA recently helped finance a telecommunications upgrade in Minburn.  Minburn Communications also announced last month that it would be Iowa’s third Village Post Office, a partnership program with the U.S. Postal Service to assist communities facing a reduction in hours at their local post office. Minburn’s post office is now open only four hours a day. Customers with basic postal needs can visit Minburn Communications nine hours a day for assistance. USDA Photo.

Pictured in Minburn, Iowa, are John Padalino and Deb Lucht, general manager, Minburn Communications. USDA recently helped finance a telecommunications upgrade in Minburn. Minburn Communications also announced last month that it would be Iowa’s third Village Post Office, a partnership program with the U.S. Postal Service to assist communities facing a reduction in hours at their local post office. Minburn’s post office is now open only four hours a day. Customers with basic postal needs can visit Minburn Communications nine hours a day for assistance. USDA Photo.

USDA Rural Development and Iowa’s Xenia Rural Water District earlier this spring announced an agreement that will set the rural water utility on a path to financial viability, while continuing to provide clean water for its 9,400 customers in 11 counties in central and north central Iowa.

During the last three-and-a-half years, USDA worked closely with Xenia in an effort to improve its operations, address financial shortfalls and ensure access to clean water for its rural customers. Read more »

Reducing Food Waste is Money in the Pocket and Food on the Table for Families

What would you do with $390?  I imagine that “throw it in the garbage” was not on your list of possibilities.

Nevertheless, throwing money in the garbage is what many of us do regularly when it comes to food.  In 2008 the amount of uneaten food in homes and restaurants was valued at roughly $390 per U.S. consumer – more than an average month’s worth of food expenditures and almost three times the average monthly Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) benefit. By reducing our food waste, we could put some of this money back in our pockets. Read more »

USDA, ERS Moving Down the Track to Open Data

Each day, the Charts of Note series from the Economic Research Service (ERS) delivers an innovative, visual display of research findings. Wouldn’t it be great if these charts could be easily grabbed for use on your own website or blog? Well, now they can.

The new Federal Open Data Policy asks agencies to use machine-readable formats when they build and disseminate information. At ERS, we are already traveling down that track…for Charts of Note and more. Our goal is to improve the reach, accessibility, and utility of important research findings. Read more »