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St. Regis Mowhak Tribe and Rural Development: A Historic Partnership

As we look back at successes of 2011, this MOU signing is one that I will remember. This summer, USDA Rural Development New York State Director Jill Harvey and St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Chiefs, Ronald Lafrance Jr, Randy Hart, and Mark Garrow came together to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This MOU marked the first time Rural Development’s New York state office has been able to offer secured loans on Tribal Lands in New York.  This is truly a historic partnership between a federal agency and the St. Regis Mohawk tribe.

This MOU will enable USDA to offer all SFH Programs on St. Regis Mohawk lands to include:  Section 502 Direct, Section 502 Guaranteed Rural Housing, Section 504 Home Repair Loans and Grants and Self Help Housing.  Rural Development will now be able to finance the construction of new homes, as well as the acquisition and rehabilitation of existing homes for low and moderate income families on the Akwesasne tribal lands. Read more »

Hawaii’s Big Island Flavor Steams into the Canadian Market

The company prides itself on handpicking all of its coffee cherries. (Photo credit: Hawaii Exports International)

The company prides itself on handpicking all of its coffee cherries. (Photo credit: Hawaii Exports International)

Hawaii Exports International (HEI) of Honolulu has successfully introduced its award-winning Kona and Ka’u coffees to the Canadian market with the support of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) office in Canada, the FAS-funded Western U.S. Agricultural Trade Association (WUSATA), and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA). Read more »

The 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree Checks-In at Number 6

A 63-foot Sierra white fir from the Stanislaus National Forest in California was lit as the 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree during a ceremony Dec. 6 on the west front lawn of the Capitol. The Christmas tree is adorned with about 3,000 ornaments, all homemade by California residents, and 10,000 energy-efficient lights. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

A 63-foot Sierra white fir from the Stanislaus National Forest in California was lit as the 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree during a ceremony Dec. 6 on the west front lawn of the Capitol. The Christmas tree is adorned with about 3,000 ornaments, all homemade by California residents, and 10,000 energy-efficient lights. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Every year, the Christmas tree that graces the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol originates from one of our country’s National Forests. It may not be widely known that the USDA’s Forest Service is instrumental in facilitating the Capitol Christmas Tree’s transport from the forest to the Washington, DC, yet it’s a proud tradition that has steadily gained attention each year with the growing popularity of social media tools. The 2011 annual trek is our number 6 favorite social media moment. Read more »

Faces of the Forest celebrates Lindsay Campbell

Lindsay Campbell, U.S. Forest Service research social scientist, presents "Understanding Civic Environmental Stewardship Networks in New York City" at the MillionTreesNYC, Green Infrastructure, and Urban Ecology: A Research Symposium in New York City March 2010. (Photo provided by New School University)

Lindsay Campbell, U.S. Forest Service research social scientist, presents "Understanding Civic Environmental Stewardship Networks in New York City" at the MillionTreesNYC, Green Infrastructure, and Urban Ecology: A Research Symposium in New York City March 2010. (Photo provided by New School University)

Some people may not guess that Lindsay Campbell works for the U.S. Forest Service. After all, she does not work on a national forest. Rather, she loves her job in New York City and frequently travels the globe as a member of the U.S. National Team for fencing. Read more »

USDA 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum: Sessions Focusing on Disease Prevention and Response

USDA’s 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum, Feb. 23-24, will present 25 breakout sessions, including “Preventing Disease From Crossing the Border: SPS Initiatives for Global Food Security” and “Fighting Foodborne Illness.”  While the first session will focus on the contribution of animal health to global food security, I’ll be moderating the second session that looks at Salmonella and the most recent progress made in fighting its threat to public health.

Since a coordinated response to outbreaks is a vital component of protecting American animal agriculture, the “Preventing Disease From Crossing the Border” session includes cooperative perspectives.  Dr. Jose Diez, Associate Deputy Administrator of USDA’s Veterinary Services Emergency Management and Diagnostics Service will address “Global Emergency Response.”  Dr. Mo Salman, Colorado State University, will discuss “Enhancing International Capacity to Meet SPS Standards;” and Former Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agriculture, Jason Hafemeister, addresses “SPS Issues and Free Trade Agreements.” Read more »

Then and Now, USDA Feeds the Nation

During the holiday season, food banks across America experience a spike in demand and this year is no different. Today that seasonal demand is also bolstered by a significant rise in client numbers because of the current U.S. economy.

One of those food distributors seeing an uptick in demand is the Capital Area Food Bank, a food hub with more than 700 partners that distribute commodities to locations in the District of Columbia, northern Virginia and parts of Maryland. Read more »