When Dave Nowak of the U.S. Forest Service and Scott Maco of Davey Tree Expert Company began collaborating on the creation of a suite of urban forest analysis tools called i-Tree, they imagined that users would be mostly city foresters from the United States.
Six years later, the U.S. Forest Service is releasing i-Tree version 5.0 with changes inspired by users from 105 countries. Version 5.0 is upgraded to rapidly assess urban trees and forests throughout Canada and Australia, two of the countries leading i-Tree’s international expansion.
“It’s neat to see how this program has grown,” Nowak said. “We didn’t expect this kind of response, but the i-Tree partnership has done an outstanding job in reaching potential users.” Read more »
Workers hold a net full of tilapia at a fish farm in Pakistan. The fish are part of the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) program called “FEEDing Pakistan.” The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) helped fund the program, which aims to enhance the country’s growing aquaculture sector through trial fish feeding using high–protein, floating fish feed produced from U.S. soybean meal. (Courtesy World Initiative for Soy in Human Health)
An innovative Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)-funded program in Pakistan is not only improving local diets, but is creating jobs, training workers and helping create a thriving aquaculture industry with U.S. soy. Read more »
Over its 15-year history, wood door manufacturer Pacific Pine has seen its share of good times and tough times. In 2007, the company was running strong with solid sales and nearly 70 employees. To sustain the momentum and continue to grow, they decided to take on short-term debt for large machinery and equipment. It wasn’t long, however, before the housing market and overall economy slid downhill, taking the company’s sales along with them. By 2009, Pacific Pine had reduced their staffing level to 30 and made dramatic changes to operations. At the same time, many conventional banks were having problems of their own. As a result, Pacific Pine’s lender decided they would not continue to carry Pacific Pine’s line of credit.
Having weathered tough economic times, Pacific Pine Products, Inc. is on track to have a record year for 2012, hammering out roughly 5,000 doors each month. “I can’t believe there are so many people buying doors,” says company vice president Greg Larson (shown with product).
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Fresh broccoli in bins at the Orange County Food Bank. With a Federal-State Marketing Improvement program grant, the California Association of Food Banks was able to dramatically expand its Farm to Family program and bring more nutrient-dense foods to area food banks. Photo courtesy Ron Ploof
Sometimes it can take a while to turn a good idea into a successful venture. At USDA, we understand the value of research, and by providing resources to get things started at the local level, we often see amazing results that have positive impact for farmers, agribusinesses and consumers across the country. Read more »
FNCS Under Secretary Kevin Concannon and FNS SERO Regional Administrator Don Arnette meet the Student Wellness Team from North Beach Elementary School, Miami Beach, Fla., during a recent visit to the school. (USDA photo by Debbie Smoot).
North Beach Elementary School in Miami Beach, Florida was recently recognized by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service as a HealthierUS School Challenge award winner for their outstanding school meal service. While there, we learned about the school’s wellness program which contributes significantly to a healthy learning environment.
“The school wellness activities have helped lead the way in the fight against obesity,” said Michele Rivera, Physical Education/Wellness Coordinator for North Beach Elementary School. “We have countless activities in our school led by students, parents, administrators and community members who share a passion to make our school a healthier place to learn. Students have numerous opportunities, beginning in Pre-K, to learn how to eat healthy and to understand the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.” Read more »
Cooperatives' gross and net business volumes, from 1979-2011. Click image to enlarge.
Since 1930, America has observed National Co-op month in October and what better way to celebrate the strength and vigor of cooperatives in the United States than to read a new USDA report, which notes that farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives posted record sales and income in 2011, surpassing the previous record sales year of 2008 by $10 billion. Not only that, cooperatives bested the old income record by $500 million. Net income before taxes for all agricultural co-ops was a record $5.4 billion, eclipsing the previous high set in 2008. Net income was up more than 25 percent, or $1 billion, from 2010. Read more »