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Accessible Fishing Opportunities Abound in National Forests

National Fishing and Boating Week, a part of the June celebration of Great Outdoors Month, will be celebrated again this year June 2 – 10. It’s a time when fishing fanatics and amateur anglers will visit national forests and grasslands across the country to try their hands at landing the big one.

On the National Forests in North Carolina, anglers with physical disabilities who visit the Nantahala, Pisgah, Uwharrie, and Croatan National Forests will have a number of accessible piers to choose from. Some of these piers provide access to premier trout fishing destinations.

“For more than 20 years, the National Forests in North Carolina and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission have been committed to providing anglers of all abilities with the opportunity to go fishing on public lands,” said Sheryl Bryan, the forests’ fisheries and wildlife biologist. Read more »

Cutting-edge Technology to Make Traditional Favorites Even Better

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Fresh corn and homegrown tomatoes are as much a part of the traditional American scene as apple pie.  Scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have applied cutting-edge technology to learn more about these longtime favorites and, in the long run, make them even better.

As part of an international consortium of 300 researchers, ARS scientists recently sequenced the genome of the domesticated tomato.  This achievement is expected to lower production costs and speed up efforts to improve the United States’ $2 billion tomato crop, making the plant better equipped to combat the pests, pathogens, drought and diseases that now plague growers. That’s good news for tomato fans, because since 2000, Americans have been consuming an average of 19 pounds of tomatoes per person every year. Read more »

Extension Tips for Organic Grains Producers

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Are you an organic grain farmer or thinking of becoming one?  Or maybe you’re wondering about strategies for improving soil quality or using less pesticide?  If so, then you could benefit from research and outreach conducted by staff at the Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory (SASL) at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Beltsville, MD.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has funded two projects through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) that are helping ARS-SASL reach organic producers.  Both projects are setting a high standard for extension activities. Read more »

Innovative Farmer Works with NRCS to Save Energy and Water

Roger Barton’s center pivot irrigation system is running on green renewable energy. The hydroturbine system was funded by a NRCS in Utah through a Conservation Innovation Grant.

Roger Barton’s center pivot irrigation system is running on green renewable energy. The hydroturbine system was funded by NRCS in Utah through a Conservation Innovation Grant. Photo credit Roger Barton.

Like other farmers in the West, Roger Barton must irrigate the alfalfa hay he raises for horse owners. And like many farmers, Barton has to be creative to make ends meet. He has an off-farm job to support his family and is always trying to think of ways to keep his farm costs down.

When diesel costs rose to $4.25 per gallon a couple of years ago, Barton came up with a new, non-diesel-powered way to power his center pivot irrigation system, which creates those crop circles you may have noticed when flying over rural America. (The center pivot also saves lots of water by spreading just the right amount evenly over the land.) Read more »

Deputy Under Secretary Encourages Michigan USDA Home Loan Borrowers to Explore a Streamlined Refinancing Pilot Program

Last week, USDA Rural Development in Michigan got an early start on Homeownership Month by promoting a pilot refinancing program, announced in February by Secretary Tom Vilsack, to help residents with current USDA home loans reduce their payments.

Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien and USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan James Turner made the announcement at the Portage office of AmeriFirst Home Mortgage, a leading partner with USDA’s Guaranteed Home Loan program. Read more »

Vermont Small Businesses Make Inroads in Canadian Market

Helping small- and medium-sized businesses export their products is a cornerstone of the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. The partnership between the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), non-profit U.S. agricultural trade organizations (called cooperators) and state regional trade groups (SRTGs) is essential to achieving that goal. The power of this partnership was clearly highlighted at the SIAL Canada trade show in Montreal, May 9-11, where the majority of the exhibitors at the USA Pavilion were small U.S. companies.

Among the SIAL Canada participants were the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM), and six Vermont food companies that produce products including artisan cheeses, croutons, jams, jellies, dips, sauces, specialty packaged maple syrups and premium spaghetti sauces. Although many of the companies are located less than an hour away from the Canadian border, few had previously considered exporting their products to Canada. Read more »