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Paradise Found? Free Snowshoe Walks on California’s Lassen National Forest Offered this Winter

Snowshoeing enthusiasts enjoy a guided trek on the Lassen National Forest in California. (Photo credit:  Esther Miranda-Cole, Public Affairs Specialist, Lassen National Forest)

Snowshoeing enthusiasts enjoy a guided trek on the Lassen National Forest in California. (Photo credit: Esther Miranda-Cole, Public Affairs Specialist, Lassen National Forest)

Crisp, sunny winter days are an invitation to play in and enjoy the great outdoors and the Lassen National Forest in California has just the ticket for people of all ages to enjoy! Read more »

During Drought, Texas Rancher Helps Land and Feeds Families

NRCS Civil Engineering Technician, Minzenmeyer and Fayette County SWCD technician, Milton Koenning visit with David Brooks about his conservation plan for continuing improvements on the ranch.

NRCS Civil Engineering Technician, Minzenmeyer and Fayette County SWCD technician, Milton Koenning visit with David Brooks about his conservation plan for continuing improvements on the ranch.

Many hungry families in Central Texas enjoyed beef this past summer as a result of a Fayette County rancher’s big heart for charity and conservation. Read more »

Pecan Industry Cracks Foreign Markets

Tim Montz (right) of the Montz Pecan Company speaks with members of the Chinese media while displaying his Texas-grown products at the USDA-supported SIAL China food trade show in 2009. Participation in USDA events and export assistance from the Foreign Agricultural Service has helped international sales of Montz pecans thrive in recent years. Photo by Cindy Wise of the Texas Pecan Growers AssociationTim Montz (right) of the Montz Pecan Company speaks with members of the Chinese media while displaying his Texas-grown products at the USDA-supported SIAL China food trade show in 2009. Participation in USDA events and export assistance from the Foreign Agricultural Service has helped international sales of Montz pecans thrive in recent years. Photo by Cindy Wise of the Texas Pecan Growers Association

Tim Montz (right) of the Montz Pecan Company speaks with members of the Chinese media while displaying his Texas-grown products at the USDA-supported SIAL China food trade show in 2009. Participation in USDA events and export assistance from the Foreign Agricultural Service has helped international sales of Montz pecans thrive in recent years. Photo by Cindy Wise of the Texas Pecan Growers Association

In 2009 when Tim Montz first traveled to Shanghai, China, representing the Texas pecan industry, Montz had to explain what pecans were. Two years later, promoting pecans to China and other countries is “business as usual” for the father-and-son team of Tim and Jake Montz of the Montz Pecan Company. Read more »

USDA Partnership Backs Innovation in Food Research

During a recent visit to Oregon, USDA’s Director for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Max Finberg, visited the Food Innovation Center in Portland, where researchers are helping producers get local edibles on the shelf.

The Food Innovation Center (FIC), an experiment station administered jointly by Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Agriculture, works extensively with USDA to help agricultural producers and food businesses get local foods to market. To make this possible, the FIC conducts a variety of studies related to product development, packaging, shelf life, consumer acceptance, economic feasibility and product marketing. Read more »

Moving Forward for Healthy Kids

Last week was an exciting week for America’s school lunchrooms.  Our new meal standards were announced and they will help improve the health of millions of children.  These new standards represent one of five major components of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  There’s more to come:

  • The ability to take nutrition standards beyond the lunch line – for the first time ever, rules for foods and beverages sold in vending machines and other venues on school campuses will contribute to a healthy diet;
  • Increased funding for schools – an additional 6 cents a meal will be available — the first real increase in 30 years – tied to strong performance in serving improved meals;
  • Common-sense pricing standards for schools will ensure that revenues from non-Federal sources keep pace with the Federal commitment to healthy school meals and properly align with costs; and
  • Training and technical assistance will help schools achieve and monitor compliance. Read more »

Know Your Farmer Know Your Food in Action in Florida

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan meets with members of the at Fifth Generation Farms fresh market in Lake City, Florida on Friday, Jan. 27, 2012. USDA Photo by Ellen Boukari.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan meets with members of the at Fifth Generation Farms fresh market in Lake City, Florida on Friday, Jan. 27, 2012. USDA Photo by Ellen Boukari.

Last week, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited Fifth Generation Farms fresh market in Lake City, Fla., a farm family owned market selling local meats and produce.  When Fifth Generation Farms market opened in August 2011, it was the realization of a dream not only for Delvey and Cindy Dicks, but for their entire family as well.  For five generations, the Dicks family has been involved in farming and ranching in the North Central Florida area.  The Dicks knew that if the family farm was to remain productive for future generations, they would have to offset rising production input costs and the loss of summer tobacco crops. Read more »