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Grazing Land Management Helps an Arkansas Farmer Reduce Effects of Extreme Drought

Dale Courtney (left) visits with Randolph County NRCS District Conservationist Adam Eades near an electric fence and tire tank watering facility about the resilience a good prescribed grazing program offers during a drought.

Dale Courtney (left) visits with Randolph County NRCS District Conservationist Adam Eades near an electric fence and tire tank watering facility about the resilience a good prescribed grazing program offers during a drought.

Cattle producers across Arkansas faced many challenges during the extreme drought of 2012. Luckily, grazing management strategies helped farmers like Randolph County’s Dale Courtney alleviate the drought’s effects.

With the assistance of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Courtney developed and implemented a conservation plan that included grazing management strategies, which helped to protect his operation from the worst of the drought and make it more efficient.

Following the conservation plan, he added electric fence and pipeline to funnel water to new tire tank watering facilities in each of his pastures. Read more »

Paris Air Show a Hit for USDA Partners

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Most people don’t equate aviation with agriculture, but two USDA partners, Washington State University (WSU) and members of a Texas 4-H Club, received the chance to participate in the 2013 Paris Air Show, which was held June 17-23.

In 2010, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded WSU with a $40 million grant to develop effective alternative biofuels for commercial and military jets. The project, the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA), is working to convert closed timber mills into bioenergy development centers, which will improve the economic potential of rural communities affected by the downturn in timber production. The team is focusing on feedstock development, sustainable forest production and establishing new methods to identify the most promising plant lines for biofuel conversion. NARA aims to develop a regional source of renewable aviation fuel for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Read more »

USDA, Federal Partners, and Foundations Collaborating to Promote Strategic Regional Economic Opportunities

Memphis is emerging as a metro region where rural and urban economic opportunities suggest the need for meaningful collaborative activities. Recently, USDA staff participated in a gathering of community development workshop in Memphis where rural leaders gathered to share challenges and successes with urban counterparts. The event was sponsored by the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), the Delta Regional Authority, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities.

Beginning in 2010, HUD began providing three-year Regional Planning grants to groups that were interested in developing long-range community plans that would help guide future federal investments in a more strategic manner. A number of those grants have been provided to communities in the Mississippi Delta region, and last week’s meeting gave the Delta Region grantees a chance to share successes and challenges of their efforts. Read more »

Forestry Students Vie for a Trip to Russia

The International Jr. Foresters’ Competition is an annual event hosted by the Russian Federal Forestry Agency.  It promotes and rewards young scientists for their interest and efforts in the environmental field and encourages international dialogue about forestry issues.

Individual youth ages 16-20 submit projects on topics such as forest science and silviculture, wildlife ecology and plant ecology. Projects will be presented to an international panel of judges (each contestant will give a 10-minute presentation) to compete for public recognition and valuable prizes. Read more »

Illinois FSA Grants Wish to 5-Year-Old Cancer Survivor

Five-year-old Joe Joe Charles celebrates being named “Cowboy Of The Year.” Photo by Bob Haentzler

Five-year-old Joe Joe Charles celebrates being named “Cowboy Of The Year.” Photo by Bob Haentzler

He didn’t want to go to Disney World or meet his favorite superhero. All 5-year-old Joe Joe Charles wished for was one day where he could be a farmer and a cowboy.

It was a wish that FSA County Executive Director Linda Mathews and the Make-A-Wish Foundation brought to life.

“Joe Joe is the first child that had a wish to be a farmer or cowboy for a day,” said Stephanie Hampton-Boeglin, director of Mission Delivery for Make-A-Wish Missouri, “It’s the best wish I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of.” Read more »

Parental Employment, Education, and Disability are Factors in Food Insecurity among Children

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

In the wake of the economic downturn that began in late 2007, food insecurity in households with children remains near the highest level observed since monitoring began in 1995. In 2011, 20.6 percent of U.S. households with children were food insecure—unable at some time during the year to acquire adequate food for one or more members due to insufficient money or other resources for food.  In about half of those households, only adults experienced reduced food quality or quantity, but in 10 percent of all households with children, one or more of the children were also affected.

Food security is especially important for children because the foods they eat—or don’t eat—affect not only their current health and well-being, but also their development and future health. Studies suggest that children in food-insecure households are more likely to have negative health and development outcomes than children in otherwise similar food-secure households, such as poorer health, more frequent colds, and lower math and reading achievement. Read more »