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Honoring Fallen Law Enforcement Heroes in Western North Carolina

For six years, U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Office Jason Crisp and his K-9 partner Maros patrolled the Grandfather Ranger District on the Pisgah National Forest. They were killed during a search for a homicide suspect. (U.S. Forest Service)

For six years, U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Office Jason Crisp and his K-9 partner Maros patrolled the Grandfather Ranger District on the Pisgah National Forest. They were killed during a search for a homicide suspect. (U.S. Forest Service)

Law-enforcement peers, U.S. Forest Service employees, dignitaries and friends gathered at the McDowell County High School in Marion, N.C. last week to honor Forest Service law enforcement officer Jason Crisp and his K-9 partner, Maros. Among the memorial service attendees were 75 K-9 officers and their partners who paid tribute to both fallen officers.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory were among the thousands who filled the school’s gymnasium.

Crisp and Maros were shot and killed on March 12 pursuing a suspect who, just hours earlier, had allegedly killed his father and step-mother. As they had so many times before, Crisp and Maros were working to keep the Grandfather Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest, and surrounding area safe. Read more »

USDA Staff Receive National Award for Conservation Efforts

Check into any hotel in Connecticut and look around the front desk or the gift shop, and you’ll see postcards with pictures familiar to all “Nutmeggers” – the ones that let Connecticut residents know they’re home. They often show scenic vistas filled with assorted shades of yellow, gold, and red of trees during fall – a paradise for the “Leaf Peeper.”

But it isn’t only about beauty. The residents of Connecticut depend on the state’s woodlands every day to build and heat homes, take hikes, observe wildlife and breathe air. We need the goods, service, and protection trees provide.

That’s why USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), U.S. Forest Service and other conservation partners work to protect forests. Read more »

USDA Foods Get Even Greener

Lunch directors and school kids are giving USDA’s frozen broccoli the thumbs up, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Kathy Russell, School Food Service Director with Santa Gertrudis Independent School District located in Kingsville, Texas, praised the recent improvements in the USDA Foods.

Lunch directors and school kids are giving USDA’s frozen broccoli the thumbs up, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Kathy Russell, School Food Service Director with Santa Gertrudis Independent School District located in Kingsville, Texas, praised the recent improvements in the USDA Foods.

St. Patrick’s Day might be over, but at USDA we’re still sporting our green.  That’s because of the success of one food in particular—a vegetable underdog: broccoli!  As one of the newest additions to the USDA Foods lineup, AMS purchased 6.87 million pounds (nearly $7.6 million) of broccoli during FY 2013, and FY 2014 purchasing has been even more robust.

Each year, the AMS Commodity Procurement Staff (AMS-CP) spends nearly $2 billion on 2 billion pounds of frozen, processed, and fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and eggs, otherwise known as USDA Foods.  The AMS-CP mission is to support American agriculture and promote domestic production by purchasing commodities, while meeting the needs of federal food assistance programs across the country. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Our Nation’s Wilderness: Yours to Enjoy and Protect

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. When he signed the Act in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson said, “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”

His foresight, along with the work of many of his contemporaries, has allowed generations of Americans to enjoy the natural beauty of our nation.

The Wilderness Act itself was landmark legislation that formally established protections for undeveloped tracts of land across the United States and created the country’s National Wilderness Preservation System. Read more »

Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Recipe Contest

Young chefs prepare food with First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary Vilsack.

Young chefs prepare food with First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary Vilsack.

Who will represent your state at the 3rd Annual White House Kids’ State Dinner?  It could be your child showing off his or her creativity and culinary talents in front of the First Lady and people from around the country.  First Lady Michelle Obama, the USDA, the U.S. Department of Education, and Epicurious have once again teamed up for the third annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge recipe contest.

Children ages 8 – 12 years old are invited to submit an original lunch recipe inspired by MyPlate. Young chefs can win the chance to attend the Kids’ “State Dinner” hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House in Washington, D.C.  The invited guests will include the Lunchtime Challenge winners and their parents from every state! Read more »

Microloan Helps South Dakota Man Transition from Desk to Farm

David Hoff left his job to return to the farm and help his father. The Microloan helped Hoff acquire operating inputs when other lenders wouldn’t take a chance on him.

David Hoff left his job to return to the farm and help his father. The Microloan helped Hoff acquire operating inputs when other lenders wouldn’t take a chance on him.

This post is part of a Microloan Success feature series on the USDA blog.  Check back every Tuesday and Thursday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

For David Hoff, farming was in his blood.  It had been 14 years since he worked on his family’s South Dakota farm.  He went off to college, earned a degree in business, landed a position in sales and, over the next 10 years, held leadership positions in sales for several companies.  But he had been thinking long and hard about returning to the 2,000 acre farm and rejoining the family operation.

Then in 2012, Hoff received the sad news of his uncle’s death.  His uncle had farmed with Hoff’s father in Hutchinson County, S.D. for years.  That’s when Hoff decided to return and help his father with the farm.

“This was a big change for us. I was used to bringing home a paycheck every two weeks and now that was going to change in a big way,” said Hoff. “There are no guarantees in farming and you can’t write down what you are going to make each year. My wife likes to have a clear plan and that was a challenge for her to overcome.” Read more »