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Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager Travels to PA for Chesapeake Bay Nutrient Tour

Mac Curtis (left), owner of Windview Farm in Port Treverton, explains to Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager how his farm has benefited from the promising technology of a poultry litter incinerator that reduces his energy costs and the amount of nutrients flowing into the Chesapeake Bay.

Mac Curtis (left), owner of Windview Farm in Port Treverton, explains to Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager how his farm has benefited from the promising technology of a poultry litter incinerator that reduces his energy costs and the amount of nutrients flowing into the Chesapeake Bay.

On a crisp, fall-like day in August, Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager travelled to Pennsylvania to tour two USDA funded facilities that are helping to reduce the amount of nutrients flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. The first stop on the tour was Windview Farm where owner Mac Curtis has revolutionized his poultry farm with a $100,000 Conservation Innovation Grant from Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The project demonstrates the promising technology of a poultry litter incinerator to produce energy and nutrient management benefits.  Last year, in addition to reducing 400 tons of poultry litter to 30 tons of ash, the farm saved 90% of their propane costs. Read more »

In the Wake of Irene; A Firsthand Look at our Hurricane Response

This week I joined Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on a tour of North Carolina and Virginia to assess areas damaged by Hurricane Irene and to discuss ways USDA can help residents recover.

Secretary Napolitano and I had the opportunity to see farmland devastated by the hurricane as well as speak with first responders, local officials, and residents about recovery efforts. It was encouraging to see communities pulling together to recover from these devastating circumstances. Read more »

Read and Follow Package Cooking Instructions to “Cook It Safe” and Prevent Food Poisoning

This month, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is taking part in a “Cook It Safe” campaign to raise awareness about the need to follow package instructions in order to fully cook pre-prepared foods and prevent foodborne illness. Due to illnesses in recent years resulting from undercooked pre-prepared meals, the “Cook It Safe!” campaign urges consumers to follow four key food safety tips to be sure food is fully and safely prepared at home:

1. Read and Follow Package Cooking Instructions
Frozen or refrigerated convenience foods may appear ready-to-eat and simply in need of being reheated, but many contain raw products that must be fully cooked before eating. The product’s label should tell whether reheating or thorough cooking is needed. Don’t ignore steps like covering, stirring halfway through cooking, or allowing food to rest before eating—these steps contribute to even cooking. Read more »

Second Generation Veterinarian Helps USDA Protect American Agriculture

Hello, I’m Dr. Jeffrey Nelson.  I’m a Veterinary Medical Officer with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).  I work in Ames, Iowa at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL).

Being a veterinarian runs in my family – my father is a veterinarian for USDA as well.  I heard his stories about the challenges of regulatory medicine and it sounded like a unique opportunity.  My goal in vet school was to end up working in regulatory medicine myself. Read more »

Library Celebrates Grand Re-Opening Three Years After a Devastating Fire

In July of 2008, Swan’s Island Library and former Old Atlantic Schoolhouse (circa 1903) was struck by lightning. The building and its contents were completely destroyed by fire, and along with it and important community gathering place and a treasured piece of history.

Three years to the month after the tragic incident, the community gathered for the Grand Opening of the new Swan’s Island Library. Read more »

USDA Grant Improves Health and Safety for Clients of Adult Day Center in Minnesota

USDA Rural Development’s State Director checks out one of two new forklifts at ProWorks, Inc. in Litchfield, Minn.

USDA Rural Development’s State Director checks out one of two new forklifts at ProWorks, Inc. in Litchfield, Minn.

For almost 50 years, ProWorks Inc. has provided valuable day services to Minnesota adults living with disabilities. For the last 30 years, ProWorks has counted the USDA as one of its partners.

ProWorks started as a pilot project in 1962 in the basement of an old school building in West Central Minnesota. About 30 years ago, ProWorks used a USDA Rural Development loan to build its current facility in Litchfield, Minn. ProWorks also has a facility in nearby Dassel. Read more »