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US Forest Service Research of Black Fingers of Death Fungus May Lessen the Intensity of Wildland Fires

The long battle to mitigate and potentially eliminate cheatgrass, one of the American West’s most menacing invasive weeds, has just taken a positive step forward. U.S. Forest Service research, conducted by ecologist Susan Meyer, has demonstrated in field trials that the fungal pathogen known commonly has Black Fingers of Death is very effective in eliminating the cheatgrass carryover seed bank that can come back to haunt a restoration seeding after apparently successful control. Read more »

Utah Business Leaders Discuss Job Creation and the Economy at White House Business Council Event

Last week Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager met with Twenty-two Utah business leaders for a White House Business Council roundtable.  The meeting was hosted by Zions Bank Corporation and USDA Rural Development.  Salt Lake City was one of the 100 communities across the nation to hold a White House Business Council event.  The Salt Lake meeting gave businesses the opportunity to share their ideas for job creation with the White House and USDA.

Tonsager, a key Obama Administration official for rural economic development efforts, sought advice from the business community on ways to improve the economic climate.  The exchange also educated business and community leaders in attendance about resources available through USDA Rural Development.  Read more »

Oglala Sioux Tribe Celebrates Homeownership Month

John Yellow Bird Steele, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) signed a proclamation declaring June 2011 National Homeownership Month.  The signing event took place in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, earlier this month with Partnership for Housing and USDA Rural Development on site for the ceremony.

“USDA Rural Development is actively engaged with assisting the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in increasing homeownership opportunities in coordination with our public, private, and non-profit partners,” said Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks.  “Homeownership often leads to economic improvements, a better sense of pride in yourself and of the community.”

Read more »

FSA Employee Joyce Bowie Recognized for Maximizing Opportunities for Small Businesses

Farm Service Agency (FSA) acting Administrator Bruce Nelson praised Director of Contracting Activity Designee Joyce Bowie recently for her career work that earned her the distinguished USDA Champion Award at the Small Business and AbilityOne Award ceremony held at USDA.  A member of the FSA Acquisition Management Division, Bowie was honored for effectively educating her internal customers about small business contractors and promoting the use of their services.

Each year, USDA agencies nominate and award small, small disadvantaged, women-owned, HUBZone, service disabled veteran-owned and AbilityOne businesses for their exemplary contract performance.  This year marked USDA 18th year in recognizing USDA employees and businesses.  In addition to honoring small businesses, USDA employees were also acknowledged and awarded for their accomplishments in fostering the use of such businesses as federal contractors, which provide maximum opportunities for small businesses to participate in USDA contracting activities. Read more »

Pushing Brush to Create Quail Habitat

Tommy Berend, ranch operator at the 9,000-acre Circle A Ranch in Archer County, Texas, wanted to eliminate mesquite, restore open spaces and plant native grasses on the ranch.

The mesquite consumed large amounts of water in areas where Berend wanted to create habitat for quail and other wildlife. Quail is an important, yet dwindling species in Texas. Read more »

USDA’s Biotechnology Deregulation Process

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) works diligently to ensure that genetically engineered (GE) organisms such as Pioneer’s hybrid corn seed is just as safe for agriculture and the environment as traditionally bred crop varieties.

Our biotechnology deregulation process is a complex method of evaluation that we take very seriously. Our involvement begins when an organization wishes to import, move interstate, or field-test a GE plant, which is done under our permitting and notification system. Read more »