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Nearly 300 Washington Area Residents Learn Food Safety from the Pros

(from L to R) Kimberly Mejia and Germany Ray, both Oxon Hills Elementary School students, Felicia Thompson and Nita Ray stop by the FSIS food safety exhibit to obtain food safety information, educational materials and promotional items during the Oxon Hills Health Extravaganza on March 23, 2011.

(from L to R) Kimberly Mejia and Germany Ray, both Oxon Hills Elementary School students, Felicia Thompson and Nita Ray stop by the FSIS food safety exhibit to obtain food safety information, educational materials and promotional items during the Oxon Hills Health Extravaganza on March 23, 2011.

Oxon Hill Elementary School’s motto for its annual health extravaganza is, “Spring forward with good health.” The motto was put into practice last week at the Maryland school’s health fair, where community organizations, activities and food samples came together to contribute to good health and well-being. Read more »

New Handbook Shows Farmers’ Market Operators How to Participate in SNAP

Last summer, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), in collaboration with the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), released  the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at Farmers Markets: A How-To-Handbook.  The handbook assists farmers’ market operators and direct marketing farmers in determining the steps necessary to become authorized to participate in SNAP and, subsequently, the steps related to managing participation.

It includes tips and guidelines on how to make the program work successfully for vendors and customers.  The handbook also features a list of resources, a glossary of important terms, and several case studies from farmers markets that have successfully implemented EBT technology.  AMS’s USDA Farmers’ Market Directory is available online to locate farmers’ markets that accept nutrition assistance program benefits. Read more »

USDA Brings Jobs to St. Louis County, Missouri

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) blog. Check back each week as we showcase the stories and news from the agency’s rich science and research portfolio.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of joining U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, U.S. Representative Lacy Clay, along with St. Louis area economic development and agriculture representatives to celebrate the establishment of a new national operations center for USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) in Overland, Mo.  This facility, with the jobs and local investment it brings, has the potential for positive, long-term economic impact in our community. Read more »

Millions of Rural Americans See Improvement in Quality of Life, Thousands of Jobs Created through USDA Support

The Obama Administration made historic investments in rural America in FY 2010, paving the way for increased economic growth and productivity over the long term.  More than 33,700 rural jobs were created and saved as a result of assistance Rural Development provided to more than 500 rural businesses; more than 150,000 rural residents became homeowners in FY 2010, and 4.67 billion kilowatt hours of energy were saved through Rural Development energy programs.  As a matter of fact, USDA investments in renewable energy led to the production of nearly 1 billion gallons of advanced biofuels in FY 2010.  These and other details are included in a report I issued today. Read more »

Faces of the Forest Celebrates Iris Estes

A few years ago, Iris Estes’ shyness served her well. After all, it didn’t matter to her because she didn’t have to give speeches or talk to groups.

Then Estes landed a job on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Central Arizona as a customer relations specialist. That was the easy part. Her new boss split her duties, adding conservation education coordinator as part of her work. That meant developing and gaining support for the forest’s first formal conservation education program, especially programs for children. Read more »

Farm-Based and Wind Energy Powers an Entire County in Wisconsin

USDA funding of biodigester technology, coupled with nearby wind turbines, produce enough renewable energy to power an entire Wisconsin county.

USDA funding of biodigester technology, coupled with nearby wind turbines, produce enough renewable energy to power an entire Wisconsin county.

The escalation in prices for energy from fossil fuel has set the stage for the domestic production of renewable energy as a national priority. Not only can the production of renewable energy reduce fossil fuel dependence, but it has the potential to create quality American jobs, combat global warming, and lay a strong foundation for a robust rural economy. This point was not only emphasized in President Obama’s State of the Union address in January, but again upon the President’s recent visit to two Manitowoc, Wisconsin, businesses; showcasing them as leaders in solar power and energy-efficient technology. Read more »