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Forest Service Finds Local Government and Home Owners Pay the Price for Non-Native Insects

The emerald ash borer is an example of a non-native, wood-boring insect.

The emerald ash borer is an example of a non-native, wood-boring insect.

While invasive insect species are widely recognized as being among the greatest threats to biodiversity and ecosystem stability worldwide, there has been little research into their economic impact on the national level especially for non-native invasive species.

Many examples come to mind like the devastation caused by the native bark beetle in Colorado and surrounding states. However, what most don’t realize is that the threat from non-native insect species is equally if not more costly to U.S. tax payers. Read more »

Strengthening a Partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Earlier this week, I attended the 2011 National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week Conference to accept the ‘Chairman’s Award’ on Secretary Vilsack’s behalf.

Over the decades, HBCUs have been critical in producing many of our nation’s great authors, intellectuals, civil rights and business leaders, inventors and teachers.  There are thousands of USDA employees, from soil scientists to conservationists, who hail from HBCUs.  And maintaining our HBCUs as thriving, top-notch, centers of higher-education is critical to preparing our nation’s future workforce and keeping America competitive.

That Secretary Vilsack was honored with this award, is a testament to his work to strengthen USDA’s relationship with HBCUs.  As Secretary, he has worked to build a new era at USDA as a premier service provider and partner for all Americans, including those in minority and underserved communities. Read more »

Face of Food Safety: Joseph Woltz III

If you ask Joseph Woltz III what is the most rewarding part of his career, his answer would be simple and matter of fact: “What could be more rewarding than a career where your daily grind is protecting people from foodborne illnesses?”

Woltz’ “daily grind” is a lot different than the one he originally planned. When he was young, he always thought he would become a teacher. But instead of going into education, he took up the “family” business: the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Read more »

USDA and Lower Valley Water District Work to Supply First-Time Water to Colonias

Participating in the Lower Valley Water District Groundbreaking Ceremony were (left to right) USDA Rural Development Texas State Director Paco Valentin, Lower Valley Water District Director Warren Jorgensen, Lower Valley Water District Director Gina Cordero, Lower Valley Water District General Manager David Carrasco, Commissioner Precinct 3 Willie Gandara, Jr.

Participating in the Lower Valley Water District Groundbreaking Ceremony were (left to right) USDA Rural Development Texas State Director Paco Valentin, Lower Valley Water District Director Warren Jorgensen, Lower Valley Water District Director Gina Cordero, Lower Valley Water District General Manager David Carrasco, Commissioner Precinct 3 Willie Gandara, Jr.

Paco Valentin, USDA Rural Development State Director in Texas, along with representatives from the Lower Valley Water District and various elected officials, recently broke ground on a new water system that will provide first-time water service to rural residents. Read more »

USDA Celebrates the United States’ Entry into the Open Government Partnership

President Obama has made openness a high priority, committing his Administration to an “unprecedented level of openness in Government” on his first full day in office.

Since then, the Administration has disclosed more and more information requested under the Freedom of Information Act. We have made voluminous information available on USDA.gov and other government websites and we have used technology in innovative ways that harness government information to improve the lives of ordinary citizens. Read more »

Recognizing Farmer Health, Safety, and Their Contributions to the Nation

At USDA, we look every day to support America’s farmers and ranchers stay profitable, safe and successful in their work to provide this country with the reliable and affordable supply of food, fiber – and increasingly – fuel we need.  This week, National Farm Safety and Health Week, President Obama signed a proclamation reflecting the importance of America’s producers to the strength of our nation.

Read the full text of the proclamation here.