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Two Maine Towns Unite to Leverage USDA Support into a Money-Saving Clean Water Project

The far northern Maine towns of St. Agatha and Frenchville recognize the value of partnership. So when the aging St. Agatha wastewater treatment plant began to have issues, the towns began to work on a solution. That solution was a mutually beneficial partnership with Frenchville, located only six miles away.

The towns agreed to combine their wastewater treatment system into a single, state-of-the-art facility located in Frenchville. This decision helped both towns to cut costs, while helping to preserve the Saint John River and Long Lake, which is a valuable Salmon hatchery in the area.

The total project cost was $3.2 million, with USDA Rural Development providing $1.1 million to assist with the conversion of the treatment plant to a pumping facility. Other funding partners include the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. Read more »

Creatively Shaping the Future of Federal Nutrition Research

Are you interested in helping shape the future of USDA human nutrition research? What human nutrition-related issues are you interested in? Childhood obesity? The nutrient content of foods? Health promotion and disease prevention? Now’s your chance to let your voice be heard. Be an active participant by visiting our “Idea Space” and sharing your thoughts with us. Your input will help guide us in setting our human nutrition research priorities for the future. Our research helps solves problems that affect Americans’ lives every day. Help us decide which problems should be our priorities.

As USDA’s chief scientific research agency, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is leading America towards a better future through agricultural research and information. Now ARS wants your input in planning its human nutrition research program for the next five years. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 8/31/12

Isaac's Impacts: Model Forecasted Rainfall, August 31, 2012

Isaac's Impacts: Model Forecasted Rainfall, August 31, 2012. Click to enlarge image.

Visit www.usda.gov/drought for the latest information regarding USDA’s Drought Disaster response and assistance.

Hurricane Isaac has grabbed most of the weather headlines in recent days, but drought remains deeply entrenched across nearly two-thirds of the continental United States.  According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, dated August 28, drought covered 62.9% of the Lower 48 states, down only slightly from a peak of 63.9% on July 24.  However, during the five-week period from July 24 to August 28, the portion of the country in exceptional drought (D4) increased from 2.4 to 6.0%. Read more »

USDA and Memphis Community Working Together in the Cotton Patch

Harvest day at the Cotton Patch, a People’s Garden in Memphis, Tenn.  The cumbers, okra, radishes and squash harvested by USDA employees and community members are all donated to the Mid-South Food Bank.  Photo courtesy Jeff Carnahan, Agricultural Marketing Service

Harvest day at the Cotton Patch, a People’s Garden in Memphis, Tenn. The cucumbers, okra, radishes and squash harvested by USDA employees and community members are all donated to the Mid-South Food Bank. Photo courtesy Jeff Carnahan, Agricultural Marketing Service

This summer, the Cotton Division of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) established a People’s Garden in Memphis, Tenn. The garden, suitably named “the Cotton Patch,” is a collaborative project developed and maintained by USDA employees and residents in the surrounding community.  The exotic garden features raised vegetable beds and a colorful Japanese maple tree, as well as flower and rose gardens. Read more »

Let Kids Play with Their Food?

Whether in a school setting or at home, when you involve kids with food preparation, you open the door to a healthy future.  Kids learn that it’s fun and easy to create healthy meals and snacks.  They receive the benefits of fruits and vegetables as they explore different flavors and textures, and they gain knowledge and skills that will last a lifetime.

So, parents, let your kids dig in as you spend time together in the kitchen.  Teachers, use food to keep your students engaged while learning across several subjects. Need some suggestions? Nutrition.gov can help. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Saying “Thank You” To Farmers and Workers on Labor Day

As Americans celebrate Labor Day this weekend, I know the holiday is overshadowed by a drought that has been extremely challenging for thousands of farm and ranch families.

President Obama and I will continue to do all we can to help drought-stricken producers. In a nation where one of every 12 jobs is supported by agriculture, we know that it’s critical to help farmers, ranchers and producers mitigate the effects of drought and continue to strengthen the agriculture sector.

Meanwhile we will continue to call on Congress to pass a comprehensive, multi-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill – to give USDA tools to help drought stricken producers, and to give more certainty to farmers and ranchers.

But even in a challenging time, American agriculture has stayed strong and resilient. That’s why, as we gather with family and friends to mark Labor Day, it couldn’t be a more appropriate time to say “Thank You” to the folks who provide the most affordable, the most abundant, and the safest food supply on earth. Read more »