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Smoke Jumping Into History

Thomas McFadden (left) and Joe Murchison (right), who is the current President of the Triple Nickles Association, attending an event at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum honoring their comrades

Although not original members of the first Triple Nickles Platoon, Thomas McFadden (left) and Joe Murchison (right), who is the current President of the Triple Nickles Association, attend an event at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum honoring their comrades. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Most people don’t conjure up images of the U.S. Forest Service when they think of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum. But every fire season the work of the Forest Service’s planes and helicopters, carrying smokejumpers, are vitally important to controlling the spread of wildland fires.

This is why the Smithsonian recently honored the legacy of 17 of some of the most lionized smokejumpers in Forest Service history. Known as the Triple Nickles, these smokejumpers were the first all-African American crew in American firefighting. Read more »

All of Georgia’s Soils Surveyed and Available Online-Contiguous States Mostly Complete

NRCS’ Web Soil Survey Tool map

NRCS’ Web Soil Survey Tool allows agricultural, construction and other industries that rely on soil information to have data at their fingertips.

Soil scientists from across the southeastern region of the U.S. came together recently to celebrate the completion of Georgia’s soil survey. With this mapping complete, very few areas of the nation’s soils in the 48 contiguous states are not recorded.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) mapped soils information for Georgia’s 159 counties. The map data can be accessed online through NRCS’ Web Soil Survey.

Soil surveys involve studying the nature and properties of soils, mapping their location on the landscape and interpreting their unique sets of characteristics. The information found in these soil surveys was used by producers to better understand their soils, and how best to use and protect them. Read more »

A Dream of Farming Becomes a Reality for this Kentucky Farm Mom

Emily Diamond's daughter on the farm

Emily handles the day-to-day operations on the farm, but everyone in the family does their part, which is what makes Diamond Family Farm such a successful family business. Photo courtesy of Emily Diamond, used with permission.

Emily Diamond is a wife, mother, and farmer. She and her family own and operate the Diamond Family Farm in LaGrange, Kentucky. Emily’s farm supplies meat for her family and to the surrounding community through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Through CSAs, the community commits to buying the farm’s harvest, sharing both the bounty and risk of farming.

As new farmers, the Diamond family had a dream of producing healthy meat for their family on their own farm.

After hard work and saving their earnings, the family purchased land and began farming. “We built it all from scratch,” Emily said, “but looking back, it would have been easier if we would have purchased land with fencing and a barn already in place.” Read more »

Deadline is Today for Producers to Meet Conservation Compliance Filing Deadline

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reminding producers to file a Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification form (form AD-1026) with their local USDA Service Center, either by filing in person or postmarking today, June 1, 2015.

The 2014 Farm Bill requires producers to have the form on file in order to remain eligible or to become eligible for federal crop insurance premium subsidies. Many producers already have a certification form on file since it’s required for participation in most USDA programs including marketing assistance loans, farm storage facility loans and disaster assistance. Read more »

Building a Better Future Together: Homeownership Month 2015

Homeowner Michelle Amrine taking a selfie with a crew of folks helping her build her home

Homeowner Michelle Amrine takes a selfie with a crew of folks helping her to build her home in Ohio.

Rural America faces a unique set of challenges when it comes to combating poverty in our towns and communities. Too often, rural people and places are hard to reach or otherwise underserved — but USDA makes sure they are not forgotten. I believe that USDA and its partners have the tools and the means to expand opportunity and better serve those living in poverty.  This month, Homeownership Month, we are celebrating a program that has helped rural families locate and climb ladders of opportunity into the middle class: The Mutual Self-Help Housing Program.

Fifty years ago USDA initiated The Mutual Self-Help Housing Program to provide very low- and low-income families the opportunity to achieve the American dream of homeownership, and in 50 years, USDA has partnered with more than 100 non-profit Self-Help Housing Organizations to help 50,000 rural American families accomplish homeownership. Read more »

Streamlined Process Helps Farmers Put Conservation on the Ground in Record Time

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is always looking for ways to do things better — whether it is how to conserve more soil on a farming operation or how to streamline internal business processes.

Recently, NRCS made vast improvements to its grants and agreements process making it easier, more timely and efficient for partners to work with us on locally-led conservation projects. Read more »