Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 9/5/12

Isaac's impacts: Locally heavy rains and strong winds from the Gulf Coast region to the corn belt.

Isaac's impacts: Locally heavy rains and strong winds from the Gulf Coast region to the corn belt.

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

Hurricane Isaac moved ashore early Wednesday, August 29, in southeastern Louisiana with maximum sustained winds near 80 mph.  Once inland, the storm steadily weakened, losing its tropical characteristics over Missouri on Saturday, September 1.  Nevertheless, Isaac’s remnant circulation continued to drift across the eastern Corn Belt during the Labor Day weekend, generating locally heavy showers from the lower Midwest into the mid-Atlantic region.   Storm-total rainfall reached 10 to 20 inches in the central Gulf Coast region, while some drought-affected areas in Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois received in excess of 4 inches.  In the Mid-South and lower Midwest, positive effects of Isaac’s rainfall included replenishment of soil moisture in preparation for the soft red winter wheat planting season and starting the process of pasture recovery. Read more »

Local Advocacy Group Steps up to Protect Quality of Lake Water on the Bankhead National Forest in Alabama

Volunteer Mimi Barkley of Houston, Ala., removes litter from the banks of Smith Lake during the Alabama Power Company’s Renew Our Rivers campaign to clean-up Alabama Waterways in June 2008. Through the hard work of volunteers, approximately 180 tons of litter has been removed from more than 166 river miles within the Winston County area (Photo courtesy of LaVerne Matheson).

Volunteer Mimi Barkley of Houston, Ala., removes litter from the banks of Smith Lake during the Alabama Power Company’s Renew Our Rivers campaign to clean-up Alabama Waterways in June 2008. Through the hard work of volunteers, approximately 180 tons of litter has been removed from more than 166 river miles within the Winston County area (Photo courtesy of LaVerne Matheson).

The beauty of a partnership involves dedicated partners on both sides. The volunteers with the Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Group donate their time each year to protect shorelines on the Bankhead National Forest, an effort greatly appreciated by the forest’s staff. Read more »

French Students Who Designed U.S. Embassy People’s Garden Visit USDA Headquarters

French students from Ecole Du Breuil, School of Horticulture and Landscaping Techniques, Paris, France. The students visited the United States Department of Agriculture People’s Garden in Washington, D.C., on September 4, 2012.

French students from Ecole Du Breuil, School of Horticulture and Landscaping Techniques, Paris, France. The students visited the United States Department of Agriculture People’s Garden in Washington, D.C., on September 4, 2012. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

After a morning visit to the White House Kitchen garden, 27 students from Ecole Du Breuil, the leading school of Horticulture and Landscaping Techniques of the City of Paris, France, spent the afternoon visiting the USDA People’s Garden. All of these students are interested in landscape design and are receiving special training so they can pursue this important work as a career. These young people, like many others from around the world, are taking an interest in agriculture after being involved in a People’s Garden project in their community. Read more »

A Colorado Child Care Center Expands with Support from USDA Rural Development

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development (RD) Business and Cooperative Programs Administrator Judith Canales (black suit) assists at the groundbreaking of the Riverhouse Children’s Center in Durango, CO on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. USDA RD provided $1.6 million in Community Facility loan funding for the project.  USDA photo by Amy Mund.

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development (RD) Business and Cooperative Programs Administrator Judith Canales (black suit) assists at the groundbreaking of the Riverhouse Children’s Center in Durango, CO on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. USDA RD provided $1.6 million in Community Facility loan funding for the project. USDA photo by Amy Mund.

Riverhouse Children’s Center in Durango, Colorado strives to provide high quality care and early education services to young children from ages six weeks through five years old.  In 2012, the center serves approximately 80 children in its five classrooms.  Realizing their current location needed updating and to be expanded, the entity sought out funding for the construction of a new two-story, 6,400-square foot building.  The entity was awarded a $1.6 million Community Facilities Loan from USDA Rural Development earlier this year. Read more »

Food Safety Science

Colorized SEM (scanning electron micrograph) of the foodborne pathogen Salmonella enteritidis. Photo by Jean Guard, ARS.

Colorized SEM (scanning electron micrograph) of the foodborne pathogen Salmonella enteritidis. Photo by Jean Guard, ARS.

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.

When it comes to microorganisms that contaminate our foods, you may think it’s a veritable jungle out there—but in fact, in the United States, most of the illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths caused by foodborne pathogens come down to 14 bad players. Read more »

Many Hands Tend the Food Safety Net

Undersecretary Kevin Concannon meets with Sisters of the Holy Family, an order of nuns based in New Orleans.

Undersecretary Kevin Concannon meets with Sisters of the Holy Family, an order of nuns based in New Orleans.

When a newspaper reporter asked me recently, “What can I tell our readers about the USDA programs,” I told her: “Most of what USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service does is through others.”

As I travel throughout the country, I see how different organizations come together to carry out our mission of putting food on the table for those in need. In concert with FNS’ 15 nutrition assistance programs, hundreds of organizations are working hard every day to create the safety net against hunger that protects Americans. Without fanfare and with little public notice, coalitions of non-profits, religious organizations and groups of volunteers are often the first line of defense against hunger. Read more »