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Black Bear Populations Swell in Mississippi with the Help NRCS and Its Partners

Farm Bill programs like the Wetlands Reserve Program have helped populations of the Louisiana black bear increase in Mississippi. Biologists estimate the state to be home to 120 black bears. Photos are by Brad Young, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

Farm Bill programs like the Wetlands Reserve Program have helped populations of the Louisiana black bear increase in Mississippi. Biologists estimate the state to be home to 120 black bears. Photos are by Brad Young, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

Mississippi was once famous for its black bear population. Hunters from across the U.S. traveled to the state to hunt in the forests of the Delta, which teemed with the shy creatures. Read more »

Energy Stakeholders Learn of New Energy Tools, Available Funding, During Meeting in Puerto Rico

Earlier this month, USDA Rural Development Staff in Puerto Rico held an energy stakeholders meeting to present the new online tools available on the revamped Energy Programs website. Also an overview of the projects developed in the island with the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) funds were highlighted throughout the reunion.

The forum moderator was José Otero-García, the State Director for USDA Rural Development in Puerto Rico. The list of attendees include representatives from the banking industry, universities delegates, federal & state government executives, business owners, technical consultants and local ranchers and farmers. Also present at the meeting was the Resident Commissioner in the United States Congress, Honorable Pedro Pierluisi, who offered the greeting remarks and reaffirmed his commitment to support renewable energy initiatives in the island. Read more »

Breakfast in the Classroom Has Dallas Kids Going For the Gold!

Southwest Regional Administrator Bill Ludwig receives a gold medal from Charles Rice Learning Center for being a breakfast champion.

Southwest Regional Administrator Bill Ludwig receives a gold medal from Charles Rice Learning Center for being a breakfast champion.

When I was a kid, my mom used to tell us to eat our breakfast because it’s the most important meal of the day. Well here we are decades later and there are studies that prove kids who aren’t hungry perform much better scholastically. In fact, a recent study from the Food Research and Action Center shows that classroom behavior improves, the number of school tardies is reduced and test scores increase when children eat breakfast. Here in Dallas we’ve made great strides to make it easier for kids to eat a healthy breakfast by making school breakfast available in the classroom in over 60 schools. Read more »

Prescribed Grazing System and Watering Facilities Keep Cattle Farm Running through Drought

Mike Whitis, left, Benton County NRCS district conservationist, and Craig Oliphnant discuss the operation of Oliphnant’s new livestock watering tank.

Mike Whitis, left, Benton County NRCS district conservationist, and Craig Oliphnant discuss the operation of Oliphnant’s new livestock watering tank.

The hot, dry Arkansas summer last year affected cattle farmers across Arkansas. But thanks to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Illinois River Sub-Basin and Eucha-Spavinaw Lake Watershed Initiative, Craig and Jay Oliphnant’s operation has been able to effectively weather the drought. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack Receives Applause for Farm-Grown Renewable Energy at Commodity Classic and Town Hall Broadcast

Earlier this month, Secretary Tom Vilsack received a warm welcome from the record breaking crowd of more than 6,000 farmers, ranchers and farm industry leaders at the General Session of the 2012 Commodity Classic in Nashville. The night before, an audience of more than 250 farmers, conservationists, renewable energy experts, farm-industry leaders and students packed the Secretary’s Town Hall Meeting, “Blueprint for a Rural America Built to Last,” broadcast live on Rural TV with questions coming in from callers in 18 states and a nationwide audience.

Both events included spirited discussion on the future of commodity prices, crop insurance and other details for the next Farm Bill being considered by Congress this year. However, the biggest applause and cheers came at both events when the Secretary answered questions on farm-based renewable energy. Read more »

A Treasured Landscape in Oregon Becomes a Work of Art

Karly Hedrick (l) and Fran Willis (r) admire a quilt in progress. Photo by Maret Pajutee, USFS.

Karly Hedrick (l) and Fran Willis (r) admire a quilt in progress. Photo by Maret Pajutee, USFS.

To date, the Tale of Two Rivers conservation campaign has generated an original microbrew, an annual cycling event, a paint-a-thon and a movie screening.

Now up: a modern quilting bee. Read more »