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USDA Water and Environmental Program Crucial to Rural Development

National Rural Water Association Deputy CEO Sam Wade (center) responds to a question, during the Rural Development session on “Why Every American Should Care About the Future of Rural Water,” at the 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum, “Moving Agriculture Forward, Growing, Innovating and Celebrating 150 Years” held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel, Arlington, Virginia, on Friday, February 24, 2012. This year’s forum coincides with the 150th anniversary of the Department of Agriculture addressing economics, marketing, research, food safety, nutrition, conservation, rural development, alternative energy, trade and many other agricultural issues. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

National Rural Water Association Deputy CEO Sam Wade (center) responds to a question, during the Rural Development session on “Why Every American Should Care About the Future of Rural Water,” at the 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum, “Moving Agriculture Forward, Growing, Innovating and Celebrating 150 Years” held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel, Arlington, Virginia, on Friday, February 24, 2012. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

As rural Americans look for new ways to compete globally in the areas of renewable energy production, business expansion and job creation, one factor that is often taken for granted is the availability of a ready supply of water.  In much of America, with the exception of parts of the West, water has often been thought of as accessible as the air.  Those attitudes are changing. Read more »

USDA Offers More than Employment Opportunities for Veterans

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack speaks to the American Legion prior to signing  a memorandum of understanding with the American Legion which will help our Nation's veterans and transitioning military service members find positions that promote agriculture, animal and plant health, food safety, nutrition, conservation and rural communities at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday February 28, 2012.   USDA Photo by Johnny Bivera.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack speaks to the American Legion prior to signing a memorandum of understanding with the American Legion which will help our Nation's veterans and transitioning military service members find positions that promote agriculture, animal and plant health, food safety, nutrition, conservation and rural communities at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday February 28, 2012. USDA Photo by Johnny Bivera.

Today about 6.1 million of America’s veterans live in rural communities. About 38 percent of military recruits call rural America home, but these communities face real economic challenges.  So over the past two years – at President Obama’s direction – USDA and the rest of the federal government have taken historic action to support rural economies. Read more »

The Secret Lives of USDA Food Chemists

“I personally find the samples with human impact most interesting,” says Lauren Shoemaker, pictured here with, Jonathan Barber (middle) and Dr. Kouassi Dje (right).  Food chemists at USDA’s National Science Lab help monitor the quality and wholesomeness of the foods we eat.

“I personally find the samples with human impact most interesting,” says Lauren Shoemaker, pictured here with, Jonathan Barber (middle) and Dr. Kouassi Dje (right). Food chemists at USDA’s National Science Lab help monitor the quality and wholesomeness of the foods we eat.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Food chemistry is the study of the chemical processes and interactions that happen within our foods.  By examining different components like water, starches and fats found in foods, we can learn how to enhance or prevent different natural and unnatural chemical reactions from happening in our food. Read more »

Sign-up and Be Counted

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Earlier this month, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), released the latest count of farms in the United States. The nation has nearly 2.2 million farms, a number that has held pretty steady for the past decade. While this number is important, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Read more »

Urban Interest in Ag?

I quickly learned this past weekend that the 2012 Farm Bill deliberations aren’t just being watched by folks who live in rural America. A conference in New York City last week demonstrated that many people in our nation’s largest city are also following the Farm Bill reauthorization discussions closely.

As Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan talked with attendees following her speech at the 2012 Just Food Conference, questions about the 2012 Farm Bill were among the most frequently asked, with dozens of students and long-time food policy advocates wanting to know more. Read more »

Emergency Conservation Program Restores Idaho Deer Farm

Ivan and Wilmina Phelps are the proud operators of a European Fallow Deer farm in scenic McCall, Idaho where national forests are the border for many farms. Their story is a tale of hard work, love of the land, care for their animals and survival of the fittest, as the couple recovered from a disaster with help from the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

The Phelps Family raises the deer for venison that they sell at area farmers markets. They also sell to restaurants, stores and direct to consumers. The business started in 1998 with only seven does and one buck. In 2000, the Phelps’ purchased an additional 54 heads and now have a herd of 150. Read more »