Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

US Forest Service Trains Fire Brigades in the Brazilian Amazon

Fire brigades in the Brazilian Amazon listen to Scott Dehnisch, a U.S. Forest Service employee.  Photo courtesy of Forrest Behm.

Fire brigades in the Brazilian Amazon listen to Scott Dehnisch, a U.S. Forest Service employee. Photo courtesy of Forrest Behm.

Since 1991, the U.S. Forest Service has worked to develop a program focusing on improving sustainable forest management and administration, fire management and prevention and special uses in protected areas in Brazil.  The emphasis has been on exchanging experiences with a focus on critical issues such as curbing illegal logging and preserving public forests. Read more »

California Welcomes Wild Wolf for First time in 87 Years

A gray wolf (not OR7)

A gray wolf (not OR7)

For the first time in almost 90 years, the state of California has become home to a wolf.

A few days shy of the new  year, OR7 meandered alone into the Golden State after crossing the state border shared by Oregon. The 2-year-old gray wolf is the first and only documented wolf in California since 1924, and is protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Read more »

Bringing Quality, Clean Water to the Residents of South Dakota

When USDA Rural Development funds a water system (as it did 800 times last year across the Nation), work doesn’t stop when the system is activated.  It has to be maintained. The South Dakota Association of Rural Water Systems annually holds a training event where operators, managers, and board members can gain tangible knowledge ranging from energy audits to infrastructure rehabilitation.  Staff from South Dakota USDA Rural Development (RD) contributes to the training to make it an annual success.

Recently, Community Program Director Doug Roehl was a speaker at the training covering the opportunities for funding.  Area Directors from across the State networked with the water districts in their area; learning about future needs in infrastructure and the changing needs of water users.  On the final day of the event, an awards event was held where USDA RD Community Program Specialist, Pat Hemen, received the “Friend of Rural Water” award.  The distinguished Friend of Rural Water title is awarded to agencies, organizations, or individuals who have supported rural water improvements.  Hemen was acknowledged for his guidance and technical assistance before and after the funding process.  Hemen as well as other staff acted as judges for the annual SD Water Taste Test Award as well. Read more »

USDA Grant Helps Coffee Farmers Win Honduras’ Cup of Excellence

Members of the specialty coffee cooperative “Los Maronchos” work in the field at the coffee farm located in Las Vegas, Santa Bárbara, Honduras. Coffees grown by farmers who are members of this cooperative won Honduras’ 2011 Cup of Excellence and had received assistance through USDA’s Food for Progress Program. Photo credit: TechnoServe

Members of the specialty coffee cooperative “Los Maronchos” work in the field at the coffee farm located in Las Vegas, Santa Bárbara, Honduras. Coffees grown by farmers who are members of this cooperative won Honduras’ 2011 Cup of Excellence and had received assistance through USDA’s Food for Progress Program. Photo credit: TechnoServe

If you can name it, there’s probably a competitive event for it. For instance, coffee has its own competition called the Cup of Excellence. In the coffee world, no honor is more sought after. It is given each year to only top coffees from participating coffee-producing countries. Read more »

NRCS Programs Aid Central Oregon Organic Grower

Sarahlee Lawrence inspects a row of organically grown flowers on her organic farm in the high desert of Central Oregon.

Sarahlee Lawrence inspects a row of organically grown flowers on her organic farm in the high desert of Central Oregon.

Business is blooming for Sarahlee Lawrence and her organic food-and-flower-growing operation, Rainshadow Organics, in the Central Oregon high desert. The 28-year old organic pioneer is proud of her venture and credits USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as a key component to her success. Read more »

Terrestrial Broadband Connects Native Communities in Southwest Alaska to the World for the First Time

Recently, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell hosted the first live terrestrial videoconference between the State Capital of Juneau and Bethel’s Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC), which administers a comprehensive health care delivery system for more than 50 rural, primarily Native communities in Southwest Alaska.  The videoconference utilized TERRA-Southwest which now provides terrestrial broadband service for the first time from Anchorage to 65 remote, rural communities in Bristol Bay and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Funding support was provided by USDA Rural Development through the Rural Utilities Service and the Recovery Act.

On the face of it, the news may not elicit much sensation, but let’s look at some facts.  The YKHC and those many, inaccessible villages are located in the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta, one of the largest river deltas in the world, and at 75,000 square miles it’s roughly the size of Oregon.  Can you imagine the immensity of not only planning, but the logistics in actually constructing the system that made today’s videoconference possible? Read more »