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NRCS Watershed Dams Protect Arkansas Communities by Reducing Flooding

Prairie Grove dam helps reduce flooding of Muddy Fork Creek along the western edge of Prairie Grove.

Prairie Grove dam helps reduce flooding of Muddy Fork Creek along the western edge of Prairie Grove.

The flooding from this year’s spring rain storms caused millions of dollars worth of damage to homes, businesses and crops in Arkansas.

But some flooding was reduced or minimized, thanks to 207 small and medium-sized dams built by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), in partnership with local watershed districts. Read more »

Basic Agricultural Safeguarding Training Boot Camp

Basic Agricultural Safeguarding Training in the classroom.

Basic Agricultural Safeguarding Training in the classroom.

Every day, thousands of USDA employees fight on the agricultural frontline to keep our nation safe from the “bad bugs” that threaten our nation’s $500 billion agricultural industry.

The Professional Development Center (PDC) provides training, leadership and consultation to Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) employees and others who work to protect the Nation’s agriculture and natural resources from plant pests and diseases. Read more »

Kenyan Businesswoman Gives Back after U.S. Training

Employees at Hillside Green work in the pack house certifying fresh vegetables for export. Photo credit: Ayub Otieno

Employees at Hillside Green work in the pack house certifying fresh vegetables for export. Photo credit: Ayub Otieno

In 2009, Eunice Mwongera decided to expand Hillside Green Growers and Exporters Company, her family-owned fruit and vegetable business. A graduate of Nairobi University and former finance officer at the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Mwongera, applied for the USDA Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology (Borlaug) Fellowship Program. Not long after, she was paired with a mentor at Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center for six weeks to learn U.S. best practices in agribusiness development and management. The fellowship was part of a program that provided U.S.-based agribusiness and collaborative research training to African women. Read more »

Scientific Integrity and Agricultural Research

With food, agriculture, and natural resources at the center of many of the biggest challenges we face today, nothing is more critical than making sure our agricultural system is based on sound science.  As USDA’s Chief Scientist one of my responsibilities is making sure our Department’s research system maintains the highest standards of what is known as “scientific integrity.”  Scientific integrity includes making sure that scientific research proceeds free of outside influence or coercion, and that scientific findings are not suppressed or altered.

I am pleased to say that Secretary Vilsack has recently released a policy on scientific integrity, and charged me to implement it across the Department.  This policy follows directly from the guidance provided by President Obama and the further guidance from Dr. John Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The policy directs everyone at USDA – career employees, political appointees, and contractors who are involved in developing or applying science – on the proper conduct and use of science. Read more »

Rural Roundtable at Dothan, Alabama

In June, President Obama established the Rural Council, which is chaired by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.  As a result, numerous rural roundtables have been held and will continue to be held throughout the country.

Revitalizing rural America is a priority to this Administration.  The rural roundtables are an opportunity for stakeholders to provide input, identify challenges and make recommendations.

On my recent trip to the great state of Alabama, my USDA colleagues from Rural Development, Farm Services Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and National Institute of Food and Agriculture supported me at a rural roundtable held in the community of Dothan.  We had excellent attendance and constructive input from community leaders attending. Read more »

Rural Champion Helps Bring Together Diverse Outdoor Recreation Interests at the National Forests and Grasslands

Bruce Ward, Choose Outdoors, Pine, Colorado

Bruce Ward, Choose Outdoors, Pine, Colorado

Cross posted from the White House Rural Champions of Change website:

Bruce formed the nonprofit organization Choose Outdoors in 2008 to bring together the diverse outdoor recreation interests that enjoy the National Forests and Grasslands. Read more »