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With New Interagency Agreement US Forest Service Works on the Loss of Whitebark Pine in Yellowstone Region

Island Lake landscape in Wyoming's Wind River mountains on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Photo by Scott Clemons.

Island Lake landscape in Wyoming's Wind River mountains on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Photo by Scott Clemons.

Hoping to find ways to reverse a potential environmental disaster, several land managing federal agencies are working together in the Greater Yellowstone Area, which includes the Shoneshone, Gallatin and Teton National Forests, to address the wide spread loss of whitebark pine trees due to the effects of climate change. Read more »

Contracting with Federal Departments? USDA is Here to Help.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced that small business owners will have an opportunity in June to learn how to grow and support their businesses by partnering with USDA and other Federal Agencies.  The North Carolina event supports the White House Initiative on Small Business Contracting.

Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan invited small businesses to participate in educational workshops and networking sessions in Durham, North Carolina on how to do business with USDA and other Federal agencies.  Topics include acquisition needs and opportunities, prime contracting and subcontracting opportunities, and business development resources.  Included in the sessions is an opportunity to meet one-on-one with USDA small business contracting specialists. Read more »

USDA Rural Development State Offices Hold Energy Stakeholder Meetings

Senator Al Franken and Minn. Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer participate in a roundtable meeting on the USDA Rural Energy For America Program.

Throughout the first quarter of 2012, the 47 Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) State Offices held energy stakeholder meetings across the country to discuss ways the Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) can assist agricultural producers and rural businesses with their energy needs.   Meeting participants included local lenders, grant writers, small business owners, and local, state and federal government agencies. Read more »

Removal of Invasive Tree Improves Health of American Samoa Forests

Dead Tamaligi trees with recovering native forest in the National Park of American Samoa. Photo credit: Tavita Togia, National Park of American Samoa.

Removal of destructive invasive trees is an ongoing challenge for the U.S. Forest Service. What folks might not realize is that this challenge of protecting native forests extends all the way to the South Pacific.  Read more »

USDA Offers Funding to Support School Nutrition

6 cent rule is a linchpin to schools adopting new meal standards that will improve kids’ meal choices in the cafeteria.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has issued an important piece of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 – the 6 cent interim final rule – to give schools and communities the tools to meet the challenge of providing more nutritious food. This rule is another big step to provide our children with the nutrition they need in school to be healthy, active and ready to face the future.

In January, USDA unveiled new standards for school meals based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These updates will result in healthier meals for kids across the nation.  The 6 cent interim final rule is important because it establishes the requirements for states to certify school district compliance with the new meal standards. Once certified, school districts that meet the meal standards will be reimbursed an additional 6 cents for each lunch served. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: A Farm, Food and Jobs Bill This Year

Last week, the Senate Agriculture Committee took a first look at a proposed version of the Farm Bill – or, as I call it – the farm, food and jobs bill. This is an important first step in the process to write the legislation and get it passed into law.

Farmers, ranchers, and the men and women who live in rural communities deserve to know what the rules will be moving forward.

With the current law expiring, we cannot wait any longer to reauthorize this essential law for rural America. It needs to happen this year. Read more »