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Ensuring Food Stamp Integrity

Cross posted from Politico:

As agriculture undersecretary and a former director of state Health and Human Services departments in Maine, Oregon and Iowa, I know the importance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps. In today’s difficult economic times, this vital program helps families across the nation put food on the table.

Despite a rash of recent stories about food stamp fraud, the facts are that the Agriculture Department has a zero tolerance policy on this. We aggressively pursue those trying to take advantage of America’s compassion for people in need. Read more »

U.S. Forest Service Hosts, Trains, and Engages Bhutanese Foresters

Kevin Megown (right), program manager at the Remote Sensing Applications Center in Salt Lake City, familiarizes Phub Dhendup (left) and Kinley Tshering (center) with the forest types found in the montane, basin and range ecosystems in Mill Creek Canyon on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah. Dhendup and Tshering are official guests of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Forest Service, and are assigned to the Department of Forests, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests in Bhutan. They are spending two combined months in Salt Lake City and Missoula, Mont. while working and training with the Forest Service on forestry and climate change issues.

Kevin Megown (right), program manager at the Remote Sensing Applications Center in Salt Lake City, familiarizes Phub Dhendup (left) and Kinley Tshering (center) with the forest types found in the montane, basin and range ecosystems in Mill Creek Canyon on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah. Dhendup and Tshering are official guests of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Forest Service, and are assigned to the Department of Forests, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests in Bhutan. They are spending two combined months in Salt Lake City and Missoula, Mont. while working and training with the Forest Service on forestry and climate change issues.

Bhutan is a small mountainous kingdom nestled in the Himalayas. Some people know it as the country that measures gross national happiness in addition to its gross domestic product. Others may have heard about its innovative, eco-friendly approach to tourism or of its Dragon King’s royal wedding in 2011. Read more »

A New Hispanic Behavioral Health Facility Serves Rural Arizona

Arizona State Director Alan Stephens and PHC Board Treasurer Mary Lou Rosales at the ribbon cutting.

Arizona State Director Alan Stephens and PHC Board Treasurer Mary Lou Rosales at the ribbon cutting.

“La esperanza nunca debe atrasarse.”

“Hope should never be deferred.”

For years the Pinal Hispanic Council (PHC) had to defer building a new behavioral health clinic in Eloy, Arizona. They couldn’t afford to fund it. Read more »

Colorado Communities Benefit from Protection of Living Snow Fences

Living Snow Fences help protect roadways in El Paso County from drifting snow during Colorado’s harsh winters.

Living Snow Fences help protect roadways in El Paso County from drifting snow during Colorado’s harsh winters.

Living snow fences, installed with the help of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), can be a life saver for residents of El Paso and Elbert counties during Colorado’s often blustery winters. Read more »

USDA-Land O’Lakes Partnership Helps Rebuild Dairy Herds, Raise Farmers’ Incomes in Mozambique

Sabado Josè Maria, a former crop farmer in Mozambique, has more than doubled his income thanks to support and training he received in a USDA-funded Land O’Lakes dairy project.

Sabado Josè Maria, a former crop farmer in Mozambique, has more than doubled his income thanks to support and training he received in a USDA-funded Land O’Lakes dairy project.

A partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Land O’Lakes International Development has helped revive a Mozambique dairy farming tradition and raised small-scale farmers’ monthly incomes by an average of 225 percent. Read more »

A Phenomenal Day for #KYF2 and Local Foods at USDA and Online

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan (at table, center), and White House Office of Public Engagement Director Jon Carson (at table, left) conducted a Know Your Farmer Compass event that utilized twitter social media to continue the National Conversation on Local and Regional Food projects and how they offer economic opportunities to local farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs. Using the new web-based Know Your Food Compass, the conversation covered many aspects about food, such as infrastructure, stewardship, local meat and poultry, Healthy food access, careers in agriculture and local food knowledge. The virtual conversation took place at the White House, and twitter was used to expand the conversation worldwide, from Washington, D.C., on Monday, March 5, 2012. Unlike most events where mobile communication devices are asked to be turned off, here it was asked that they remain on allowing people to have social media conversations.  USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan (at table, center), and White House Office of Public Engagement Director Jon Carson (at table, left) conducted a Know Your Farmer Compass event that utilized twitter social media to continue the National Conversation on Local and Regional Food projects and how they offer economic opportunities to local farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs. Using the new web-based Know Your Food Compass, the conversation covered many aspects about food, such as infrastructure, stewardship, local meat and poultry, Healthy food access, careers in agriculture and local food knowledge. The virtual conversation took place at the White House, and twitter was used to expand the conversation worldwide, from Washington, D.C., on Monday, March 5, 2012. Unlike most events where mobile communication devices are asked to be turned off, here it was asked that they remain on allowing people to have social media conversations. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Yesterday, I had my first-ever “virtual conversation.” It included Jon Carson, Director of Public Engagement for the White House; Sam Kass, Senior White House Advisor on Food Policy, and 60 other local food practitioners. We came together to talk about the new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass and were joined “virtually” by hundreds of others using the Twitter hashtag #KYF2.  The result?  An exciting and inspirational conversation about USDA’s work on local and regional food systems involving people from around the country. Read more »