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Forest Service Partners with Oregon Hunter’s Association for Wildlife Habitat Restoration

A volunteer from the Oregon Hunter’s Association mows a meadow on the Hebo Ranger District. (USFS Photo)

A volunteer from the Oregon Hunter’s Association mows a meadow on the Hebo Ranger District. (USFS Photo)

On a foggy summer morning typical of the north Oregon Coast, a group of volunteers from the Lincoln County Chapter of Oregon Hunter’s Association (OHA) were hard at work in one of the Hebo Ranger District’s local meadows. They were working to help maintain habitat for a variety of wildlife species and to reduce invasive plants.

“I greatly value the partnership we have with Oregon Hunter’s Association,” said George Buckingham, the district’s ranger. “The commitment and dedication of OHA’s volunteers has been invaluable.” Read more »

Improving Access to Farm Programs in Indian Country

In keeping with President Obama and Secretary Vilsack’s efforts to improve the lives of Native Americans, USDA officials last month signed two Memorandums of Understanding with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).  The intention is to improve access to USDA programs by tribes and tribal members.

The MOUs set up a framework for consultation, training, coordination, and the provision of technical assistance which will increase the amount of Indian land enrolled under USDA conservation programs through NRCS and farm loan programs through FSA and improve service delivery on those lands. Farming and animal management, grazing, ranching and related food and agricultural operations will be supported through improved interdepartmental coordination. The MOUs also support establishment of Native rural businesses, renewable energy development, and job creation. Read more »

Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative Helps to Improve Gulf of Mexico Too

Steve Barlow standing in the longleaf pine forest that he is restoring.

Steve Barlow standing in the longleaf pine forest that he is restoring.

Levy County, on Florida’s “Nature Coast,” is home to a variety of ecosystems, from dense hardwood forests and marsh lands to sand hills and Gulf Coast waters.

The historic Suwannee River borders the north end of the county, while the meandering Withlacoochee River winds through the southern part. Both eventually drain into the Gulf of Mexico, and runoff from agricultural land ending up in the two rivers can carry soil, pesticides and nutrients to the Gulf. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Investing in America’s Rural Communities

As producers face an historic and ongoing drought today, President Obama and I are doing all we can to help farmers and ranchers mitigate its effects – while helping communities to overcome the economic challenges posed by the drought.

To carry out our work on behalf of communities and producers, USDA has relied on programs authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill. Parts of that law, including authorization of USDA disaster assistance for livestock producers, expired last year. Other aspects of the law expire on October 1st and over the next few months if Congress fails to act. Read more »

Ask a School Meals Expert: What do the New Calorie Standards Mean for my Child?

You may have heard this year’s back to school season is a little different than in past years. There is a new, healthier look for the school lunch menu.  These updates represent the first major changes to school meals in 15 years, and we know that these changes come with questions.  We’ve promised to keep the dialogue open, and we are working to ensure that we answer them all.

The vast majority of students, parents, teachers and school service professionals have had great positive feedback on the new, healthier lunches.  However, a few parents have expressed concerns that kids will come home from school hungry or not get enough to eat during the day because their kids have higher caloric needs – in particular, kids who are athletes. Schools and families have – and have always had – multiple options for addressing their needs. Read more »

Chef Corps to Help Build Bridges through “Culinary Engagement”

“Food isn’t traditionally thought of as a diplomatic tool, but sharing a meal can help people transcend boundaries and build bridges in a way that nothing else can.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Some of the nation’s top chefs have signed on to help promote American food and culinary traditions around the world through the new American Chef Corps. The corps is part of the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership Initiative, launched earlier this month by the Department of State and the James Beard Foundation. USDA is delighted to support this initiative, which is an excellent complement to our ongoing work highlighting the quality, variety, safety and sustainability of U.S. food products to our customers around the world. Read more »