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USDA Works to Deliver Broadband to Rural Communities

USDA Rural Development’s Application Assistance Team

USDA Rural Development’s Application Assistance Team stands ready to help communities and organizations successfully navigate the application process for our Farm Bill Broadband Access and Community Connect programs. The team is comprised of (L-R) Kenrick Gordon, Tony Tindall, Bill Vogt, Shekinah Bailey, Andre Boening, and Andy Hayes.

Thanks to USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service funding and Home Communications, Inc., those who live and work in a rural Kansas community don’t have to travel miles for broadband service. High school and college students can upload, research, and complete homework assignments online. Employees can work remotely, farmers can monitor operations, and businesses can successfully market and promote their products and services.

Home Communications, Inc. (HCI), based in Gypsum, Kan., is one example of how rural telecommunication service providers are investing in the future of their communities. Since they opened doors as a rural telephone company in 1933, HCI has transitioned to a broadband service provider focused on growth by expanding their customer base and service territory. Read more »

Here’s a New Year’s Resolution that You’ll Want to Keep

A composite of farm field days participants

Farm field days show participants the most innovative farming methods.

The New Year is here and most of us are making resolutions about how to improve our lives in 2017. Well, we at the Natural Resources Conservation Service believe that learning about farming and conserving natural resources should be at the top of everyone’s list of resolutions. How can you make that happen? By signing up for a farm field day. Field days will give you plenty of opportunities to learn about how good agriculture is done and boost your knowledge of how to conserve and protect natural resources.

If you’re fortunate enough to be in or near Wisconsin, be sure to visit the Lower Fox River Watershed. It’s just south of Green Bay and home to the Great Lakes Demonstration Farm Network where you can see leading-edge conservation practices that are specifically designed to help farmers reduce how much phosphorus enters Green Bay and improve water quality in the Great Lakes. Read more »

#MyPlateChallenge Week 2 – Fruits & Physical Activity

MyPlate New Year's Challenge Week 2 graphic

Welcome to Week 2 of the #MyPlateChallenge!

The MyPlate Team welcomes you to Week 2 of our 5-week New Year’s Challenge! Last week we focused on the Dairy Food Group and physical activity. This week we’re adding another food group to the mix… fruit!

So, what foods are in the Fruit Group? This food group includes all fruits and 100% fruit juices. Focus on whole fruits—fresh, canned, frozen, or dried—more often for added dietary fiber. In addition to fiber, fruits contain many essential nutrients that are typically under consumed, including potassium, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid). Healthy ways to add fruit to your day: Read more »

Selecting Trees to Grow in Cities: Database Captures Urban Tree Sizes, Growth Rates Across US

An overgrown urban tree

Knowing the maximum size of a tree can help a planner or manager avoid future conflicts between roots and sidewalks or branches and power lines. A technical manual published by the U.S. Forest Service can help cities decide which trees are best to plant in specific areas. (Photo Credit: U.S. Forest Service)

In the cramped environs of U.S. cities every inch counts, especially if attempting to make space for nature. But now city planners and urban foresters have a resource to more precisely select tree species whose growth will be a landscaping dream instead of a maintenance nightmare.

The U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station recently published a technical manual and launched the most extensive database available cataloging urban trees with their projected growth tailored to specific geographic regions. Read more »

U.S. Sweet Potato Production Swells

Sweet potatoes

Since 2000, per capita consumption has risen as consumers increasingly enjoy sweet potatoes beyond the holiday table.

Chances are that if you order a side of fries at a restaurant, you need to specify whether you’re asking for white potatoes or sweet potatoes. Food trends that support the consumption of more healthful, colorful and unique foods have helped to encourage sales of sweet potatoes in the form of fries, chips, ready-to-cook and heat-and-eat preparations, expanding consumption of the orange tuber well beyond the holiday table.

Domestic consumption of sweet potatoes has grown considerably since 2000 with annual per capita availability (a proxy for consumption) rising from 4.2 pounds to reach a record-high 7.5 pounds in 2015. The marked rise in domestic demand has been encouraged by promotion of the health benefits of sweet potatoes – rich in vitamins A and C, high in fiber. Expanded demand has also been supported by the increasing variety of sweet potato products available in restaurants and for home preparation. Read more »

Guia Del USDA Ayuda A Operadores De Tiendas Y Bodegas Ofrecer Productos Mas Saludables

Una señora haciendo compras usando sus beneficios de SNAP

Una señora haciendo compras usando sus beneficios de SNAP (cupones de alimentos).

Todos sabemos las recomendaciones de comidas saludables y  los consejos que ofrecen los expertos en cuanto a la buena salud. Pero el comer saludablemente no es tan fácil como simplemente seguir todo lo que oímos de los médicos y nutricionistas. A veces, el acceso a comidas saludables es limitado debido al vecindario donde uno se encuentra. Otras veces, no alcanza el dinero para las opciones de comidas más frescas o nutritivas. Y aun en otras ocasiones, el impedimento a alimentos saludables puede que sólo sea cuestión de saber dónde buscar en su tienda o bodega local.

Es ahí donde el Servicio de Alimentos y Nutrición (FNS, por sus siglas en inglés) del Departamento de Agricultura de EE.UU. está enfocándose — mejorando los alimentos disponibles para aquellos que servimos, sin sacrificar la satisfacción al paladar. FNS es la agencia federal encargada de administrar el Programa de Asistencia de Nutrición Suplementaria (SNAP, por sus siglas en inglés; anteriormente conocido como el programa de cupones de alimentos o food stamps). Y no hay razón por la cual los recipientes de SNAP tengan  que sufrir un abastecimiento inferior de comidas saludables. Read more »