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USDA Committed to Supporting Improvement of Housing Quality in Indian Country

The  newly constructed Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority administration building, built with USDA support.

The newly constructed Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority administration building, built with USDA support.

USDA Rural Development and Housing and Urban Development staff celebrated the building dedication of the first Housing Authority in the nation recently.  Started over 50 years ago, the Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority located on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, in South Dakota, hosted officials in honor of the opening of their newly constructed administration building.  Funded through a USDA Rural Development’s Recovery Act Community Facility Direct loan of $3.6 Million, the building stands for the coordinated effort of many agencies. Read more »

The True Big Apple

(left to right top) Mike Hurwitz, Director of the Greenmarkets Programs, GrowNYC; Anthony Jordan, Community Liaison for Congressman Serrano; Joel Berg, Executive Director, New York City Coalition Against Hunger; Kim Kessler, Food Policy Coordinator, NYC Mayor’s Office; Cathy Nonas, Senior Advisor, DOHMH. (left to right bottom) Alyson Abrami, Manager Farmers’ Market Program, DOHMH; Culinary Nutritionists, Stellar Farmers’ Market Program; Audrey Rowe, Administrator for the USDA Food and Nutrition Service; Linda La Violette, Director of Farmers’ Markets, Empire State Development

(left to right top) Mike Hurwitz, Director of the Greenmarkets Programs, GrowNYC; Anthony Jordan, Community Liaison for Congressman Serrano; Joel Berg, Executive Director, New York City Coalition Against Hunger; Kim Kessler, Food Policy Coordinator, NYC Mayor’s Office; Cathy Nonas, Senior Advisor, DOHMH. (left to right bottom) Alyson Abrami, Manager Farmers’ Market Program, DOHMH; Culinary Nutritionists, Stellar Farmers’ Market Program; Audrey Rowe, Administrator for the USDA Food and Nutrition Service; Linda La Violette, Director of Farmers’ Markets, Empire State Development

During a recent visit to the “Big Apple”, Audrey Rowe, Administrator, USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) visited Poe Park Greenmarket in the Bronx, a borough of New York City.  She entered to find farmers showing off their fresh, locally-grown produce, herbs and specialty products, which community members regularly use their SNAP and WIC benefits to buy. Read more »

USDA Research Prepares Farmers for Change

NIFA-funded grad student checks soil moisture gauge.

NIFA-funded grad student checks soil moisture gauge.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research profile.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen a lot of variability in the weather, with severe droughts in some places, excessive flooding in others, and more extreme weather events all over the country.  While there has always been variability in the weather, scientists predict increasing variability in weather patterns as the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) increases in the atmosphere. Such changes present challenges for farmers, who, in many areas, are trying to grow crops under hotter, drier climate regimes and must protect their crops from damage during extreme weather events.  That’s why the USDA is actively doing research on how to produce crops and livestock through increasing climate variability, and that’s why the fourth in a series of Office of the Chief Scientist white papers on the Department’s research portfolio is focused on what USDA science is doing to help prepare the agency, and the nation’s farmers for a changing climate. Read more »

USDA Offers Livestock and Pet Safety Tips for Those in the Path of Tropical Storm Isaac

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is issuing guidance for residents in states who have livestock and pets that might be affected by Tropical Storm Isaac.  USDA is offering these tips to help residents protect the health of these animals in the event of power outages, flooding and other issues that can be associated with strong storms.

Follow the direction of state and local officials and stay tuned to your local Emergency Alert System television or ra­dio stations, and fire, police and other local emergency response organizations for relevant emergency information. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 8/27/12

Tropical Storm Isaac - August 27, 2012 as of 2pm EDT

Tropical Storm Isaac - August 27, 2012 as of 2pm EDT. Click to enlarge image.

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

In recent days, some of the weather focus has shifted from drought to the tropics. Indeed, Tropical Storm Isaac is bearing down on the central Gulf Coast of the United States, and hurricane warnings have been issued from Morgan City, Louisiana, to Destin, Florida.  According to the National Hurricane Center, a coastal storm surge of 6 to 12 feet can be expected in southeastern Louisiana and southern portions of Alabama and Mississippi, along and just east of Isaac’s expected path.  On its present course, Isaac should reach the central Gulf Coast late Tuesday.  The NHC indicates that further strengthening can be expected prior to landfall, and Isaac should reach the coast as a Category 1 hurricane – with sustained winds of 74 to 95 mph.  Another threat related to Isaac will be flooding rains.  Rainfall has already topped 10 inches in parts of southeastern Florida, where locally heavy squalls persist.  In the central Gulf Coast region, widespread 6- to 12-inch totals are forecast, with isolated amounts near 18 inches possible.  Crops potentially in the path of Isaac include cotton and sugarcane.  By August 26, cotton bolls open in the Delta States ranged from 32% in Missouri to 61% in Louisiana.  Cotton in the open-boll stage of development is especially vulnerable to damage when high winds and heavy rain occur.  In Louisiana, more than one-quarter (28%) of the new sugarcane crop had been planted by August 19.  Many other crops, including unharvested corn, rice, and soybeans, could be susceptible to lodging (i.e. being flattened or blown over) or quality degradation due to Isaac’s effects. Read more »

USDA Offers Tips to Coastal Residents Preparing for Isaac and other Tropical Storms

As Gulf Coast residents  prepare for the possible landfall of  Tropical Storm Isaac, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) urges everyone to make food safety a part of their preparation efforts. Power outages and flooding that often result from weather emergencies compromise the safety of stored food, and planning ahead can minimize the risk of foodborne illness.

Storing perishable food at proper temperatures is crucial to food safety but can become difficult if you lose electricity for your refrigerator and freezer. For those living in Tropical Storm Isaac’s projected path, USDA recommends stocking up on canned food, bottled water, batteries, and dry ice.

The publication “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes” is available at www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Severe_Storms_and_Hurricanes_Guide.pdf to print and keep for reference during a power outage. :  Florida residents can get timely food safety information on Twitter by following @FL_FSISAlert, Mississippi residents should follow @MS_FSISAlert, and Louisiana residents can follow @LA_FSISAlert. Read more »