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Seen and Heard: The USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone is a Big Hit at the B’More Healthy Expo

The USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone began its spring 2012 tour this past Saturday at Baltimore’s B’More Healthy Expo. Staffed by five food safety experts, the Discovery Zone was arguably one of the top attractions at the expo, giving interactive tours and food safety prizes to at least 5,000 visitors in one day. FSIS’ Bridgette Keefe-Hodgson, who communicates through American Sign Language, captured the attention of deaf and hearing visitors alike with her presentations.

Bridgette estimates that about 15 deaf expo attendees stopped by the Discovery Zone, and each stuck around for quite some time to see what they could learn. They were thrilled that FSIS has a series of YouTube videos in ASL, called SignFSIS, on preventing food poisoning, and Bridgette wrote down the URL for her pet project so the videos could be found later. One happy customer told her, “Wow, it is truly fantastic to see a deaf employee working at the FSIS booth.  For me, that makes it so much easier to ask food safety questions directly in ASL.” Read more »

Streamlined Option to USDA-Financed Home Owners in Arizona, New Jersey and 17 Other States

In today’s housing market downturn, New Jersey and Arizona are fortunate to have been selected as two of the 19 states to participate in the USDA Guaranteed Single Family Housing Refinance Pilot Program.  In New Jersey, many homeowners are struggling to make ends meet especially with high interest mortgage rates.  This program, when implemented, can benefit as many as 3000 rural homeowners in the “Garden State.”  A healthy and strong housing market is vital to sustaining New Jersey’s current economic recovery.

(left to right) Dominick Ferrante, Representing Congressman Robert Andrews; USDA Rural Development State Director Howard Henderson; Housing Administrator Tammye Treviño; Pat Delaney, Sun National Bank; and Robert Angradi, Oak Mortgage Company discuss the refinance pilot program at the New Jersey roundtable meeting.

(left to right) Dominick Ferrante, Representing Congressman Robert Andrews; USDA Rural Development State Director Howard Henderson; Housing Administrator Tammye Treviño; Pat Delaney, Sun National Bank; and Robert Angradi, Oak Mortgage Company discuss the refinance pilot program at the New Jersey roundtable meeting.

USDA Housing Administrator Tammye Treviño was in New Jersey earlier this month to facilitate a roundtable meeting on the rural refinance pilot program.  Joining Administrator Treviño in these discussions were lenders, credit & housing counselors, Congressional staff, and Rural Development representatives. Read more »

Colorado Jewel Gets an Upgrade Thanks to Recovery Act Funds

The Buckeye Recreation Area on the Manti-La Sal National Forest in southwestern Colorado is a jewel in a spectacular setting. Ponderosa forests, a sparkling blue reservoir and towering peaks surround it.

Buckeye Recreation Area on the Manti-La Sal National Forest in southwestern Colorado. U.S. Forest Service photo.

Buckeye Recreation Area on the Manti-La Sal National Forest in southwestern Colorado. U.S. Forest Service photo.

Until 2010, it consisted of dilapidated facilities and barren shorelines with compacted soils. Off-highway vehicle trails crossed the entire area, and vehicles routinely traveled across the dam. Read more »

Ohioans See Giganteus Future

Miscanthus giganteus was a tall, bothersome grass a few years back, a good privacy plant, but to some, just a weed.  It could grow about anywhere, reaching heights of 12-15 feet, and do it perennially for 20 years or more.

Some say Miscanthus giganteus had a bad reputation, but it doesn’t bother Terry Lowe anymore.  He’s hoping to turn it into renewable energy while it grows on 31 acres of his 66-acre farm in Ashtabula County, Ohio. Read more »

NRCS District Conservationist Does Double Duty as Major General in Iraq

Major General Eddy Spurgin conducts key leader engagements with Iraqi military senior leaders in southern Iraq.

Major General Eddy Spurgin conducts key leader engagements with Iraqi military senior leaders in southern Iraq.

When on duty, Major General Eddy M. Spurgin is the commanding general for the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas Army National Guard, but when stateside, he serves as the district conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Big Spring, Texas. Read more »

Setting the Record Straight on Beef

As the head of USDA’s public health agency, I am responsible for ensuring that the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe for American families. I approach this role not only as a food safety expert and a physician, but also as a mother. And I want to address the national conversation over the last few weeks about the safety of Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB).

I believe it is important to distinguish people’s concerns about how their food is made from their concerns about food safety. The process used to produce LFTB is safe and has been used for a very long time.  And adding LFTB to ground beef does not make that ground beef any less safe to consume.  Read more »