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US Forest Service Helps Young Adults Bring Awareness to National Forests Though a Cross-Country Adventure

The original slogan of the trekking group GreenXC read: Share a Ride, Tell a Story, Save a Park. Now they added and a National Forest (as in the U.S. Forest Service). This is because these young folks (all under 30), embarking on this bold transnational ride-share journey that departs July 27th, have broadened the focus of its environmental protection campaign to include the myriad of issues facing the U.S. Forest Service and the national forest system.

One of their stops will include the USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Lab, in Madison, WI. The group will tour the world renowned lab and learn a great deal about the science of forestry. Aside from driving through many northern forests including the Gallatin, north of Yellowstone, and Mt Hood in OR, GreenXC will visit in California the oldest living and tallest trees in the world at the Inyo and Sequoia national forests respectively. Read more »

Board of Water and Soil Resources Celebrates 25 years of Re-Invest in Minnesota

For 25 years, the conservationists at the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources’ (BWSR) have been cleaning the state’s water, improving soil productivity and restoring wildlife habitat on private lands.

And for much of that time, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has been a partner to the state agency.

Working together with local offices, the two agencies assist private landowners with conservation practices that reduce soil erosion, improve water cleanliness and enhance habitat in Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands. Read more »

AMS Releases User-Friendly Organic Market News Report

Producers of organically-grown poultry and eggs will now find it easier to access market information about their segment of the organic industry with the release of a new user-friendly Market News report launched this week by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

The weekly report offers a summary of the production, wholesale, and retail featuring for certified organic poultry and eggs across the United States.

Specific production information includes head count and average weight of organic poultry slaughtered under federal inspection, estimated egg production, and organic shell egg inventory for the previous week. Wholesale data include sales of organic brown eggs and young chicken parts. Read more »

Working Side-by-Side, Pennsylvania Families Build a Community

In a small, quaint housing development in south-central Pennsylvania, families are constructing new homes with the help of a unique government program.  USDA Rural Development’s Self-Help Housing Program provides mortgage financing to homeowners and a technical assistance grant to a non-profit agency, in this case, Interfaith Housing Alliance. Interfaith supervises the homeowners who do much of the building of their own homes.  On June 24th, another six homeowners moved into the 39-lot subdivision.

New homeowner Latia Reed considers the program a gift to her family. She credits her son as her inspiration and strength, and the reason she wanted to accomplish the goal of homeownership.  Although the work load was heavy, Reed feels the project was one of the greatest experiences of her life time. Read more »

USDA Conducts Potato Research in Colorado

Under Secretary Ed Avalos, Monte Smith, Colorado potato grower, Jose Luis Vitela Mijares, produce buyer, Soriana, Mexico and Commissioner John Salazar, Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Under Secretary Ed Avalos, Monte Smith, Colorado potato grower, Jose Luis Vitela Mijares, produce buyer, Soriana, Mexico and Commissioner John Salazar, Colorado Department of Agriculture.

As part of the Mexican Trade Mission hosted by the Colorado Department of Agriculture and the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee in the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado, we experienced an extremely informative stop at the Colorado State University Research Facility in Center.  I walked away with “good news” to share with consumers, retailers, producers and my co-workers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Read more »

Alabama Housing Development Workshop Provides USDA Financing Options to Assist Growing Communities

What better time than National Homeownership Month to host a housing development workshop?    Local officials in Pike County, Alabama, recognized the shortage of available housing for individuals and families interested in relocating to the area because of the hundreds of new job opportunities resulting from recent industry announcements and existing business expansions.  As one of the steps to help address this housing issue, the Pike County Economic Development Corporation (PCEDC) hosted a housing development workshop last week.

During the workshop, lenders, realtors, and developers learned about a variety of Federal and State programs to finance single family and multi-tenant housing.  Representatives of USDA Rural Development shared detailed information and met one-on-one with individuals following the workshop to answer their specific questions.  General questions about eligibility criteria, “green-building” programs and incentives, zoning issues, and rehabilitation of existing multi-tenant housing were raised during the workshop. Read more »