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USDA Pledges Support to Restore Water Quality in Vermont’s Lake Champlain

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA will commit $45 million for on-the-ground conservation activities to protect and improve soil and water quality in the Lake Champlain Basin in Vermont over the next five years.  Senator Patrick Leahy (right) and Rep. Peter Welch look on.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA will commit $45 million for on-the-ground conservation activities to protect and improve soil and water quality in the Lake Champlain Basin in Vermont over the next five years. Senator Patrick Leahy (right) and Rep. Peter Welch look on.

Lake Champlain has been plagued by blue-green algae blooms caused by a large amount of phosphorous and other nutrients in the New England lake. Recently, USDA launched a special initiative in the Lake Champlain basin, which is composed of New York and Vermont, to invest $45 million in protecting and improving soil and water quality over the next five years.

“Our work helps farmers prevent phosphorus laden runoff which leads to the blue green algae blooms,” said Vicky Drew, the state conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Vermont. “NRCS conservationists work with farmers to ensure that manure is properly stored, and we provide assistance in the application of manure to their fields according to a nutrient management plan.”  Read more »

Look to Idaho’s Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway for Fall Color Vistas

State Highway 21, the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway, winds across slopes between Idaho City and Lowman on the Boise National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service/ Edna Rey-Vizgirdas)

State Highway 21, the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway, winds across slopes between Idaho City and Lowman on the Boise National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service/ Edna Rey-Vizgirdas)

One of the first excursions Idaho locals recommend to newcomers is the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway along Highway 21 from Boise to Stanley, Idaho. The popular route traverses foothills, high-elevation forests and scenic river canyons in the heart of the Boise National Forest and Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

Although beautiful in any season, fall is my favorite time of year for exploring Highway 21. The combination of sunny, cool days melding into together with cold-but-not-freezing nights help intensify the forest’s autumn hues. Color is often good in September but generally peaks in in early to mid-October, depending on elevation.  Read more »

Team Up for Success! USDA and Partners Help Secure a Healthier School Day

With kids now back in the classroom, USDA wants to help schools continue to build a healthier, more nutritious environment for their students.  At the same time, we’re deeply committed to ensuring these same schools maintain financial stability and strong student participation in their meal programs.  We’re seeing more and more schools move forward with new and innovative healthy school meals, but we also understand there is a need to share best practices across the country.

Thanks to our partners at the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI), we hope to fill that void.  To make this a reality, the group will pilot the Team Up For Success Training Initiative with the assistance of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Southeast Regional Office.  Together, they’ll work with school food authorities (SFAs) to identify challenges and provide nuanced resources to promote a healthier school day. Read more »

USDA Works to Bring Conservation, Other Assistance to a Remote Georgia Island

One of the major partners in the Sapelo Island Red Pea Project is SICARS which has a facility on Sapelo Island. NRCS photo.

One of the major partners in the Sapelo Island Red Pea Project is SICARS which has a facility on Sapelo Island. NRCS photo.

Sapelo Island off the coast of Georgia has a handful of residents, some of whom make their living raising livestock, farming produce and managing forests. While the barrier island is isolated and only accessible by ferry or private boats, USDA agencies in Georgia recently held a meeting on the island to talk about available assistance.

“This workshop was a great opportunity for many of our partner agencies to come together to meet these coastal area residents, discuss their needs and provide information and assistance to a group of individuals that have worked very little with us in the past,” said Karri Honaker, a district conservationist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Read more »

Supermarkets and Restaurants Are Fighting Food Waste & Saving Money

Food donated from local restaurants and supermarkets through coordination with the Food Donation Connection is used to make delicious & healthy meals served in homeless shelters and food pantries. Photo courtesy of Food Donation Connection.

Food donated from local restaurants and supermarkets through coordination with the Food Donation Connection is used to make delicious & healthy meals served in homeless shelters and food pantries. Photo courtesy of Food Donation Connection.

Thirty-one percent of food that is available at supermarkets, restaurants, and in households goes uneaten – food that was nurtured and harvested in the fields and ends up in a landfill.  Increasingly food processing facilities, food service companies, supermarkets, and restaurants are recognizing the need to reduce, recover, and recycle all of this wasted food.  The momentum is building as more and more address the problem and take action to keep good food from entering landfills.

A week from today – on September 24, Wednesday at 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Eastern – you can join us for a webinar on “Supermarkets and Restaurants Fighting Food Waste and Saving Money” that will feature industry representatives discussing how they are leading the fight against food waste.  There will also be time devoted to dialogue, Q&As, and the sharing of resources. Read more »

Do YOU Have a Plan for Your Livestock Should Disaster Strike?

Cows on small farm.

Cows on small farm.

Last year brought some interesting weather to our country. A multi-day severe weather event included an EF3 tornado that carved a 68-mile path from Mississippi to Alabama.  Parts of Colorado had flooding so severe it destroyed thousands of homes, and wiped out 200 miles of state roads and 50 state bridges.  Winter Storm Nemo dropped a record snowfall of 31.9 inches in Portland, Maine.  And, California recorded its driest year ever—fueling wildfires that burned some 8,000 acres in Southern California.

Any disaster, whether it’s a flood, tornado or earthquake, can catch you off guard and leave you in danger. It’s important to have an emergency plan in place for your family. And if you raise livestock, an emergency plan is important as well.  Using the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) procedures to prepare now, you can quickly and easily safeguard your livestock when disaster strikes. Read more »