Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Speak Up: You Can Help Protect America’s Hardwood Trees against the Asian Longhorned Beetle!

An invasive ALB perched on a branch. August is "Tree Check Month" when adult ALB like this one can be easily spotted on or around hardwood trees. Photo by R. Anson Eaglin.

An invasive ALB perched on a branch. August is "Tree Check Month" when adult ALB like this one can be easily spotted on or around hardwood trees. Photo by R. Anson Eaglin.

From the moment an Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) infests a tree, there is no cure. No amount of treatments will drive this deadly pest from the comfort of America’s heartwood, leaving thousands of trees dead and dying in the northeastern U.S.  However, as bleak as this may sound, there is a way to stop this beetle, but we need your help.  The American public could be one of the ALB’s greatest opponents, and in stopping the beetle you can help save trees.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the U.S. Forest Service, the Nature Conservancy, and American Forests held a joint news conference at the National Press Club on July 29, 2013 to urge the public to report signs of the invasive pest that threatens recreational areas, forests, and suburban and urban shade trees.  These agencies have named August “Tree Check Month” in order to encourage the public to examine their trees for signs of ALB. Read more »

Acting Deputy Secretary Discusses the Need for a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill to Boost the Rural Economy

Acting Deputy Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse (center) talks to reporters after announcing USDA Grant funding to help Ottawa, Illinois refurbish its downtown. Scuse said it is important to the future of rural America to get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill passed as soon as possible. USDA photo.

Acting Deputy Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse (center) talks to reporters after announcing USDA Grant funding to help Ottawa, Illinois refurbish its downtown. Scuse said it is important to the future of rural America to get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill passed as soon as possible. USDA photo.

Anyone that is familiar with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) knows of the important role that our local delivery system plays throughout the country. Farmers and residents can visit the USDA Service Center in their area to receive localized assistance. The Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Rural Development (RD) staff in these offices often come together to highlight programs that each can offer and support projects in the area. This concept of One USDA was evidenced recently as representatives of these agencies welcomed the Acting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Michael Scuse, to Illinois.

While in Illinois, Mr. Scuse joined the Illinois Directors of FSA, NRCS and RD to visit LaSalle County. The Acting Deputy Secretary moderated a roundtable discussion with administrators and students at Illinois Valley Community College (IVCC). Topics included the President’s Climate Change Action Plan, USDA’s role in renewable energy investments, and a discussion of the need for a five-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. Scuse said the bill is designed to continue the expansion of America’s rural economy, and that’s a primary reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill passed as soon as possible. Read more »

Conservation Tour Showcases an Awe-Inspiring Partnership

NRCS Soil Scientist Roger Windhorn shows participants the differences in soil layers and what makes a healthy soil.

NRCS Soil Scientist Roger Windhorn shows participants the differences in soil layers and what makes a healthy soil.

A recent tour in Livingston, Ill. showcased the successes a powerful partnership has had in the Indian Creek Watershed.

The 6th Annual Conservation in Action Tour was organized by the Conservation Technology Information Center to highlight community efforts in the watershed taking place under the auspices of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative.

Through the initiative, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and partners work with landowners and farmers to address nutrient loading in priority small watersheds within the Mississippi River Basin. Program participants implement voluntary conservation practices that improve water quality, restore wetlands and enhance wildlife habitat while allowing them to sustain or improve agricultural productivity. Illinois is one of the 13 states included in the initiative. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Commonsense Immigration Reform: Pro-Growth and Pro-Agriculture

A report released this week by the White House economic team shows the benefits of commonsense immigration reform for rural America.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Senate passed a commonsense immigration reform measure in a strongly bipartisan fashion. The Senate plan provides a pathway to earned citizenship for those who are in our country without authorization. They will have to go to the back of the line, pay fines and settle taxes they owe our nation. It would also put in place the toughest border security plan that America has ever seen. Read more »

Smurfs Encourage Kids to Get Outdoors

Young Smurf fans visit the Forest Service’s booth during a community outreach event promoting the Discover the Forest campaign. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Young Smurf fans visit the Forest Service’s booth during a community outreach event promoting the Discover the Forest campaign. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Little blue gnome-like creatures helped the U.S. Forest Service kick off its latest campaign to get people out into the woods. Partnering with the Ad Council and Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Forest Service recently launched its Discover the Forest campaign featuring the Smurfs and their new movie, The Smurfs 2.

Studies have shown that the time children in the United States spend outdoors has declined 50 percent over the past 20 years. Population shifts to urban and suburban environments, an increase in children’s indoor activities, and a lack of awareness of, or access to, nearby nature locations have contributed to this trend. However, research shows there are many benefits to kids spending time in nature. Time spent outdoors gives children the ability to explore, use their imaginations, discover new wildlife and engage in unstructured and adventurous play. Read more »

NIFA Grant Addresses Climate Issues Related to Beef Cattle Production

Today, I am on the campus of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. When I visit universities across the nation, I look forward to meeting with faculty and students to hear about the work they are doing. On this particular visit, I am excited to meet with a research team working on an issue important to all Americans: climate.

As most people are well aware, last year’s drought put tremendous stress on cattle across the nation, especially in the Southern Great Plains. Drought, along with other extreme weather events and climate patterns, threatens food production across the nation. The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has provided grant funds to land-grant universities across our nation to develop approaches to mitigate or adapt to the impact of climate change on food production. Earlier this year, NIFA awarded more than $9 million in funding to Oklahoma State University (OSU) to address the vulnerabilities of beef cattle under stress from climate variations. OSU’s goal is to safeguard regional beef production against climate change while mitigating the environmental footprint of agriculture. Read more »