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Category: Environment

Veterans Returning to Civilian Life Bring Skill and Talent to Farm and Ranch

The U.S. flag

Each day, nearly 1,300 veterans and their family members return to civilian life. USDA is helping many veterans transition from the military to agriculture.

In honor of Veterans Day, Deputy Under Secretary Lanon Baccam provided Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack with an overview of USDA’s support for veterans. Baccam, a proud army veteran, also serves as the Department’s Military Veterans Agriculture Liaison. Read more »

USDA Helps Eastern North Carolina Recover after Matthew

Under Secretary Michael Scuse, North Carolina FSA State Executive Director Bob Etheridge, and FSA County Executive Director Kenny Johnson standing with farmer Kent Smith

Under Secretary Michael Scuse, North Carolina FSA State Executive Director Bob Etheridge, and FSA County Executive Director Kenny Johnson stand with farmer Kent Smith to assess flood damage to his sweet potato crop in Tarboro, North Carolina.

When Hurricane Matthew hit last month, disaster struck as high flood waters devastated communities up and down the East Coast. Agricultural producers in Eastern North Carolina were hit especially hard and suffered devastating losses to crops, livestock, and property.

Secretary Vilsack recently designated 39 counties in North Carolina as primary natural disaster areas, in addition to 15 contiguous counties. This week, I traveled to the state to visit some of the communities that were affected. I saw a peanut farm littered with uprooted plants and cracked shells. I met with an organic tobacco producer whose top soil had completely washed away. I visited a sweet potato and soybean farm that suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses. We drove by washed out roads and gutted homes with waterlogged furniture piled high on the side of the road. Read more »

Gulf of Mexico Communities Depend on a Healthy Gulf

The Gulf of Mexico

The Gulf Coast ecosystem is vital to our nation and our economy.

The Gulf Coast ecosystem is vital to our nation and our economy, providing valuable energy resources, abundant seafood, extraordinary recreational activities and a rich cultural heritage.  This ecosystem was significantly injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill—the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history—and has also suffered from harm caused by hurricanes, subsidence and other human actions and naturally-occurring events.

With the historic settlement of the litigation with BP, there will be up to $16 billion available for ecosystem restoration in watersheds across Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas through the RESTORE Act, the Natural Resource Damages Assessment process and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Read more »

When Storm Clouds Darkened the Skies in Southern Louisiana, Extension Specialists Lit up Social Media

Flooding in Louisiana

The Healthy Homes Partnership is helping flood victims in Louisiana recover and rebuild. USDA photo

(This guest blog describes how the Healthy Homes Partnership helped residents affected by recent flooding in Louisiana.  Healthy Homes Partnership is an interagency program funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes and is housed at the University of Missouri – Extension. Because September is National Preparedness Month, it is a good time to think about emergency planning.  Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make an Emergency Communication Plan for you and your family as you just don’t know when a disaster will strike your community.)

By Michael Goldschmidt, national director of Healthy Homes Partnership, University of Missouri Extension

In mid-August, residents of Southern Louisiana were deluged by about two feet of rain.  According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the resulting flooding caused at least 13 deaths and damaged more than 100,000 homes. Several federal agencies and partners sprang into action to help, including Healthy Homes Partnership (HHP). Read more »

Are You and Your Food Prepared for a Power Outage?

Severe Weather Food Safety infographic

Know how to keep food safe before, during and after emergencies. Hurricanes, tornadoes, winter weather and other events may cause power outages. Follow these tips to help minimize food loss and reduce your risk of foodborne illness. (Click to view a larger version)

Every year, the month of September is recognized as National Preparedness Month.  It is a good time to think about emergency planning for any disaster or emergency.  Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make an Emergency Communication Plan.

Weather can be extremely unpredictable, as many communities throughout Louisiana can attest with the recent devastating flooding.  These emergencies and disasters can happen anywhere. Even if you live in an area that doesn’t typically experience extreme weather, you still might experience occasional power outages. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service can help you plan and prepare for a power outage caused by a disaster or emergency with practical food safety guidance.  You can keep this information in a place where you can quickly pull it out should you need it. Read more »

Strengthening U.S. Farm Labor through Surveys

Farmers can help ensure there is enough agricultural labor in the United States at critical times in the production cycles by taking part in the Agricultural Labor survey.

Farmers can help ensure there is enough agricultural labor in the United States at critical times in the production cycles by taking part in the Agricultural Labor survey.

Throughout the course of the year, hired labor makes planting and harvesting of America’s farmland possible. On my family’s Illinois farm, we relied on both paid and unpaid friends and family to bring in our hay.   Nearby farmers however relied on seasonal migrant labor to harvest vegetables. 

Today I’m a statistician overseeing the analyses and publication of environmental, economic and demographic data on U.S. agriculture.  In that role, my team produces data on farm labor that provides the basis for employment and wage estimates for all farm workers directly hired by U.S. farms.  It is also used by the U.S. Department of Labor to administer the H-2A agricultural guest worker program.  Read more »