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Forest Service Eastern Region highlights Legacy Trail on White Mountain National Forest

Driving along the Kancamagus Highway  on White Mountain National Forest, Lincoln, N.H.

Driving along the Kancamagus Highway on White Mountain National Forest, Lincoln, N.H.

The Weeks Act 100-mile Legacy Trail has recently been unveiled as a virtual self-guided driving tour of the White Mountains in New Hampshire.   The tour is named after the watershed conservation legislation of 1911 known as the Weeks Act that led to the creation of national forests east of the Mississippi River. Read more »

Undersecretary Promotes “All of the Above” Renewable Energy Strategy

Rural America has great potential in helping the U.S. meet the future energy demand by deploying alternative energy and energy efficiency sources and practices, so says U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Under Secretary for Rural Development, Dallas Tonsager, who visited the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland Wash., with other members of a technical advisory committee exploring ways to further the use and development of advanced bio-fuels.

Tonsager co-chairs the Biomass Research and Development Board, which was created by the Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000.  USDA and the Department of Energy implement the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, which consists of grants made available through the 2008 Energy Act and other programs. Read more »

USDA Uses Its ‘Noodle’ to Expand Wheat Exports

Imperial Foods’ owner Ahmadou Danpuolo Baba, U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon Robert P. Jackson, President of First Bank Group Dr. Paul K. Fokam, and U.S. Consul  Edward Gallagher observe a production run of U.S. wheat- and soy-based noodles at the opening of Imperial Foods factory in Douala. Photo credit: Imperial Foods

Imperial Foods’ owner Ahmadou Danpuolo Baba, U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon Robert P. Jackson, President of First Bank Group Dr. Paul K. Fokam, and U.S. Consul Edward Gallagher observe a production run of U.S. wheat- and soy-based noodles at the opening of Imperial Foods factory in Douala. Photo credit: Imperial Foods

On my first visit to Cameroon, I had been asked to speak at the formal opening of the Imperial Foods noodle plant—a public-private partnership that helps to illustrate how USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) serves American agriculture in markets around the world. Read more »

Intertribal Agriculture Council Executive Director Praises Appointment of Members to the USDA Council for Native American Farming and Ranching

I was pleased to receive this statement in support of Secretary Vilsack’s appointment of members to the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching (CNAFR) from Ross Racine Executive Director  of the Intertribal Agriculture Council.

“The addition of CNAFR to the USDA available tools should provide much needed Native American input to the Department policies, rules and program delivery.  The CNAFR represents a diverse geographical group of individuals which in turn represents the diversity of Native American agriculture and natural resources.  In addition, I foresee the CNAFR providing an additional sounding board for Tribes and individual Indian producers as barriers are identified and are in need of address to facilitate Native American participation in the vast array of USDA programs and services.  CNAFR increases the Native American focus on Indian agriculture and increases the number of individuals pursuing positive change thus increasing Indian participation in USDA programs. CNAFR is another step USDA is taking to insure Native Americans have full opportunity to utilized programs and services to improve the quality of life on our Reservations.” Read more »

Collaboration for a Colorado Community

Some of the most passionate advocates for USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service are our partners across the country.  I realized that when I sat down yesterday with our hunger fighting partners in rural Greeley, Colorado.  The town sits in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in Weld County, among some of the richest, most productive farmland in the west.  It’s a massive 4,000 square mile county where cattle, grain and sugar beets are king.

Yet in the midst of the beauty and bounty, I was struck by the fact that 25,000 people here are in need.  So United Way of Weld County brought together more than two dozen local agencies that all have a common goal:  to strengthen their community by reducing hunger and promoting health. Read more »

A New Step Forward in Fighting Food Stamp Fraud

Cross posted from the White House blog:

At USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service we are committed to keeping our vital nutrition assistance programs available to those who need them most.  One way to do that is to ensure access.  Another is to ensure integrity—Americans expect us to serve those in need, and they expect us to do so with accountability for the benefits provided.

That why today, as part of the Obama administration’s ongoing Campaign to Cut Waste, we’ve announced a proposed rule that will provide States with additional tools to maintain integrity in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. The proposed rule will help States identify and prevent fraud by allowing them to request client contact when there are excessive Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card replacement requests by SNAP households. The rule also further clarifies the definition of what constitutes trafficking. These new tools are important because excessive card replacement requests by SNAP recipients may indicate that the client does not know how to use the card properly and needs additional help or training, or that fraudulent activity may be occurring that warrants further investigation by the State. To be clear, we expect most requests for replacement cards to be legitimate ones; however, it’s important that we take a closer look at those cases in which cards are replaced at an excessive rate. Read more »