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

Sagebrush Songbirds under the Sage Grouse Umbrella

New maps reveal the patterns of abundance of sagebrush songbirds, based on Breeding Bird Survey count data combined with sagebrush cover, landform, and climate variables. Shown here is the range-wide relative abundance of Brewer’s sparrow. Map courtesy Patrick Donnelly, IWJV.

New maps reveal the patterns of abundance of sagebrush songbirds, based on Breeding Bird Survey count data combined with sagebrush cover, landform, and climate variables. Shown here is the range-wide relative abundance of Brewer’s sparrow. Map courtesy Patrick Donnelly, IWJV.

The charismatic sage grouse is often in the spotlight as the flagship species in the sagebrush ecosystem. The smaller songbirds that live alongside the grouse don’t always attract as much attention, but they are also good indicators of how the sagebrush range is faring.

Recently, in a project funded by the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and Intermountain West Joint Venture (IMJV), scientists set out to evaluate whether investments in sage grouse conservation serve as an “umbrella” that extends benefits to other sagebrush-dependent wildlife, too. These findings are summarized in a new Science to Solutions report by SGI, a partnership led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Read more »

Distance Learning and Telemedicine projects

Some of the best stories about successful rural health projects are often from those who offer medical services, or those who benefit from those services.  It was inspiring to hear from an Oklahoma woman who cared for her elderly mother, thankful because broadband and telemedicine services meant she no longer had to spend the better part of an hour sending medical data to a hospital over 100 miles away via dial-up service and then wait another hour for medication instructions.

USDA funding for broadband and Distance Learning and Telemedicine services helps connect rural communities to medical services and improve access to quality care from health care experts. For example, Norton Healthcare Foundation in Kentucky provides specialty care to patients in rural communities using telemedicine technology.  Providers consult with specialists to determine changes in care and whether care can be managed locally.  This reduces unnecessary transfers and allows patients to remain in their community where their support system is.  Read more »

Racing for alternatives in the age of antibiotic resistance

Alice and the Red Queen in Peter Newell’s Through the Looking Glass. Biologist Leigh Van Valen is credited for hypothesizing the need for organisms to constantly adapt and evolve by referencing the Red Queen’s race. (Illustration by Peter Newell.)

Alice and the Red Queen in Peter Newell’s Through the Looking Glass. Biologist Leigh Van Valen is credited for hypothesizing the need for organisms to constantly adapt and evolve by referencing the Red Queen’s race. (Illustration by Peter Newell.)

This week is World Antibiotic Awareness week and ‘Get Smart About Antibiotics’ week. Learn more about how USDA works to ensure antibiotics remain effective to treat both people and animals when necessary and the alternatives available to traditional antibiotics.”

For billions of years, microbes such as bacteria and viruses have been in a struggle for survival in the face of naturally occurring antimicrobial substances. This struggle has continued in nature and into human society, where humans, plants, animals, and microbes themselves constantly ward off disease-causing microbes. The plight for adaptation and survival is not unlike the Red Queen’s race in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, where it takes all of the running one can do to remain in the same place.  Read more »

NIFA projects study the population decline of clams on Lummi Nation tidal flats

Northwest Indian College students are learning how to collect and prepare samples for analysis

Northwest Indian College students are learning how to collect and prepare samples for analysis

The annual White House Tribal Nations Conference provides tribal leaders from the 567 federally recognized tribes the opportunity to interact directly with high-level federal government officials and members of the White House Council on Native American Affairs. This guest blog describes how USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports tribal food sovereignty and economic growth.

 

By Andres Quesada, associate director, National Indian Center for Marine Environmental Research and Education, Northwest Indian College Read more »

Nutrition Assistance Response in Flint

The City of Flint provides "water pickup" locations in each of its wards, like this one in Ward 8

The City of Flint provides "water pickup" locations in each of its wards, like this one in Ward 8

USDA’s emergency food program in Flint, Mich., offers a unique response to the city’s lead crisis.  To support the health of the area’s low-income residents, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service promotes key nutrients and adequate diets.

“This community is an old manufacturing town. A lot of the factory jobs have left the area, and unfortunately the people are left behind,” explains Matthew Purcell, Executive Director of Genesee County Community Action Resource Department (GCCARD), a local community action organization that assists low income residents.  After dangerous levels of lead were discovered in the city’s water pipes, everyday life in Flint became even more challenging. When a local resident like Reggie needs to take his medications, he can’t fill a cup of water from the kitchen sink.  He makes regular trips to water pickup stations in churches and abandoned parking lots to ensure an adequate supply of safe drinking water in his home.  When Mrs. Smith draws a bath for her four grandchildren, she is afraid to use the water from the pipes.  She drags large jugs from the front porch through the house and pours them, one by one, into the tub. Read more »

ERS Makes FoodAPS Purchase and Nutrition Data Easier to Access

FoodAPS data show the sources of food acquisitions (e.g., store types, restaurants, and schools) by SNAP households and by non-SNAP households of differing income levels.

FoodAPS data show the sources of food acquisitions (e.g., store types, restaurants, and schools) by SNAP households and by non-SNAP households of differing income levels.

USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has developed a unique treasure trove of data from a survey on food purchases and acquisitions by U.S. households – USDA’s National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey FoodAPS. To protect individual survey respondents’ privacy, access to the data had been restricted to researchers from academic institutions and government agencies. Now, a modified version that aggregates information so individuals cannot be identified, but still provides valuable data for research and planning is available to everyone.

What can FoodAPS data tell us? USDA’s investment in FoodAPS was undertaken to fill a critical knowledge gap and encourage research that can support an evidence-based approach to Federal food assistance policies and programs. The data are being used to address a range of questions such as where households acquire food in a typical week, which foods they acquire, how much they pay for the food and how the acquired foods match recommendations for a healthy diet. Read more »