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Missouri USDA’s “Can” Do Attitude with Feds Feed Families

The annual Feds Feed Families food drive is a summer-long effort, but USDA employees in Missouri donate to the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri all year long. Eight years ago, Tara Griffin, a Missouri Farm Service Agency state office employee, took the initiative to organize USDA employees to volunteer once a month at the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri. Employees repackaged bulk food for individual use and sorted food products, giving them the chance to see first-hand the impact the food bank has on local communities.  The experience was so powerful that Missouri USDA employees have continued to volunteer at the Food Bank once a month ever since.

Thus, it is no surprise that Missouri USDA employees are so eager to give back to the food bank each year through the Feds Feed Families campaign.  Collaboration between USDA agencies within the Missouri office has allowed for friendly competition and spurred the generation of creative ideas to help make the state’s Fed Feed Families campaign a success. Read more »

Landowner and Land Manager Working to Help Lesser Prairie-Chicken

Ranchers who are protecting the lesser prairie-chicken while improving their operations: Tom Turner (left), Glen Mull, and Amy Harter.

Ranchers who are protecting the lesser prairie-chicken while improving their operations: Tom Turner (left), Glen Mull, and Amy Harter.

A Kansas family and their neighbor  are working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to increase habitat for the lesser prairie-chicken—while also benefiting their grazing lands.

Glen Mull and his daughter, Amy Harter, collaborate with Tom Turner to co-manage the grassland they own and the grassland he manages next door. Together, the Mulls and Turner have enrolled roughly 3,000 acres in Edwards and Stafford counties in the Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative. Read more »

Secretary Meets with Energy and Rural Development Officials During a Nebraska Swing

Late last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack went to Omaha, Nebraska to discuss the President’s “All of the above” energy strategy, and meet with wind energy and rural development officials.  Speaking to members of the American Coalition for Ethanol, he said that while the drought is severe and the Obama Administration is moving to help affected farmers and ranchers, we won’t know the impact of this drought until harvest time – but we do know that working together, we will get through this challenge.

The Secretary noted that Nebraska has been hit hard by drought. Today, USDA declared an additional 172 additional counties across the United States as primary natural disaster areas due to drought – and as of today, all of the State of Nebraska is covered by primary or contiguous disaster designations for drought.

Read more »

The Great Green Fleet Makes History!

Diane Ley, State Executive Director, Hawaii Farm Service Agency, prepares to depart Hickam Air Force Base for the Great Green Fleet demonstration. USDA Photo.

Diane Ley, State Executive Director, Hawaii Farm Service Agency, prepares to depart Hickam Air Force Base for the Great Green Fleet demonstration. USDA Photo.

WOW! The word “wow” only moderately conveys the historic events that unfolded this summer during the Department of Navy’s Rim of the Pacific Exercises (RIMPAC) Great Green Fleet (GGF) demonstration. The might and power of the United States Navy coupled with that of scores of other Pacific Rim counties was impressive, but moreover a number of the great ships and aircraft were fueled by a mix of algae and animal fats. Read more »

Got Map? Dixie National Forest Kicks-Off Public Awareness Campaign

Dixie National Forest employees participate in the Parowan 4th of July Parade and many other community events in Utah to hand out free maps that show designated off-highway vehicle roads and trails on the forest.

Dixie National Forest employees participate in the Parowan 4th of July Parade and many other community events in Utah to hand out free maps that show designated off-highway vehicle roads and trails on the forest.

Hauling a trailer emblazoned with a forest scene and large map, the Dixie National Forest “Got Map” traveling crew made stops across Utah, passing out 60,000 free maps, talking to people about using off-highway vehicles in the forest and engaging the public in the work to designate motorized travel routes for 4-wheelers and all-terrain vehicles.

“With our new motorized travel plan across the forest, there’s over 2,700 miles of open routes for the public to come and enjoy this world class scenery and recreation,” said Nick Glidden, Motorized Travel Plan Implementation Team Leader on the Dixie National Forest. Read more »

Food That’s in When School is Out

The Power Panther get the crowd “powered up” at the July 10th Boston SFSP Kickoff Event.

The Power Panther get the crowd “powered up” at the July 10th Boston SFSP Kickoff Event.

On a sunny July afternoon, a long line of students, ranging in ages from 4-18, listened eagerly as Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and representatives from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and Boston Public School System kicked off for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Cafeteria staff from Lila Frederick School in Dorchester, Mass. cooked and served a BBQ lunch for about 100 eligible SFSP students from the local neighborhood. On the menu: turkey hot dogs, grilled chicken, corn on the cob, fresh slices of watermelon, grape juice and fat free milk. Read more »