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USDA Helps Improve Native Health Care in Rural Alaska

For most Americans, advanced health care facilities that can treat almost any kind of ailment are just a short drive away.  But picture you or a loved one in your rural community enduring a life-threatening illness or injury, and having to travel hundreds of miles for medical attention.  Compounding the issue are the often treacherous travel conditions during the winter months when remote roads are hazardous, and sometimes closed due to weather.

It’s no wonder that the community of Tazlina, Alaska, in the Copper River Valley, welcomed the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the Copper River Native Association’s new health care and administrative facility on a 10 acre site.  The project is a joint venture between USDA Rural Development through a Community Facilities direct loan; U.S. Housing and Urban Development and the State of Alaska. This new facility will replace the existing 40-year old scattered site facilities that were originally slated to be decommissioned or demolished in 1985.  The land has been provided by Ahtna, Incorporated, A Native regional corporation, on a 99 year lease. Read more »

Officials Represent USDA at Future of Food Conference

Tomorrow, Secretary Vilsack and I will participate in the Future of Food, Food Security for the 21st Century conference, which is sponsored by The Washington Post. I am pleased to see the topic of food security getting such attention, as I believe it’s one of the biggest challenges we face now and in the next 50 years. As director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), I believe NIFA has a crucial role to play in addressing these challenges.

We are facing a “9 billion challenge,” in that the global population is projected to hit 9 billion by the year 2050. This challenge presents what I call wicked problems that require us to find ways to feed, clothe, shelter all people, and meet their energy needs, without wreaking havoc on the environment. Read more »

Dairy Farmers: Stewards of a Healthy Planet

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Dr. Kathleen Merrigan with Victor Orlowski President of Professional Engineers for the Dairy Industry as he demonstrates new equipment on the Zimmerman Dairy in Queen Creek, Arizona, on Tuesday,  March 27, 2012. USDA Photo by Aaron Lavallee.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Dr. Kathleen Merrigan with Victor Orlowski President of Professional Engineers for the Dairy Industry as he demonstrates new equipment on the Zimmerman Dairy in Queen Creek, Arizona, on Tuesday, March 27, 2012. USDA Photo by Aaron Lavallee.

Cross posted from the DairyGood.org blog:

This month we celebrate National Dairy Month and honor dairy producers across the nation who work day and night to make sure that we have a safe, affordable and healthy dairy supply. Read more »

In Pursuit of Answers to Thwart Threatening Invaders

An APHIS employee at the Center for Plant Health Science and Technology Otis Lab prepared an agarose gel for electrophoresis of DNA.  The Otis Lab’s mission is to identify, develop, and transfer technology for the survey, exclusion, and control of plant pests and diseases.

An APHIS employee at the Center for Plant Health Science and Technology Otis Lab prepared an agarose gel for electrophoresis of DNA. The Otis Lab’s mission is to identify, develop, and transfer technology for the survey, exclusion, and control of plant pests and diseases.

It’s at that first alarm, when an invasive species is discovered within U.S. borders, that scientists at USDA APHIS’ Center for Plant Health Science and Technology (CPHST) power up to solve a biological puzzle and protect American resources. Read more »

Milwaukee Self-Service Center Improves Latino Access to SNAP

Hunger Task Force FoodShare Assistant Elizabeth Leister helps a client access benefits online at the Robles Center. Established in the 1970’s, the Robles Center located in Milwaukee Wisconsin, was the first social services office serving Milwaukee’s predominantly Latino south side.

Hunger Task Force FoodShare Assistant Elizabeth Leister helps a client access benefits online at the Robles Center. Established in the 1970’s, the Robles Center located in Milwaukee Wisconsin, was the first social services office serving Milwaukee’s predominantly Latino south side.

Here at USDA, we’re always looking for great ideas and best practices that improve access to our programs. Access to USDA’s SNAP Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program) by Hispanics/Latinos is a special concern because our data show that many low-income Latinos simply don’t apply for SNAP even though they’re eligible. Language and cultural differences, confusion and fear about immigration status of family members are very real roadblocks for many Latinos. That’s why we’re encouraged by a new and exciting social services model in Milwaukee – the Robles Center – that is reducing those barriers and empowering Latino customers. Recently I talked with Sherrie Tussler, executive director of the Hunger Task Force (HTF) in Milwaukee, to learn more. Read more »

Oregon Forest Camp Gives Kids a Week-Long Outdoor Experience

It was chilly and wet when they arrived in western Oregon, but that didn’t dampen the excitement of the 165 sixth-grade students from six small schools who arrived via yellow buses, pick-up trucks, vans and even a horse trailer at this year’s Forest Camp Outdoor School near the small town of Lebanon.

They kicked off the first day with an all-camp meeting where students were introduced to staff, sang songs and learned camp rules. Campers met their counselors (one parent and one high school student) and moved into one of the 19 cabins. Then they spent the afternoon at challenge courses, cabin development classes and listening to encouraging stories to help gear them up for a successful week away from home. Read more »