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APHIS Pleased With Animal Evacuations At Two Flood-Ravaged North Dakota Zoos

In late May, two zoos in central North Dakota were hit hard by flooding.  The disaster prompted the need for a swift evacuation of the animals.  In Bismarck, the Missouri River threatened to submerge the Dakota Zoo and its 500+ animals under as much as seven feet of water, and in Minot the Roosevelt Park Zoo was a potential target of the rising Souris River, which runs directly through the city.

During the height of the flooding, APHIS’ Animal Care Program monitored reports coming from the zoos and kept abreast of river levels.  Inspector Amy Jirsa-Smith contacted zoo officials regularly. She was on-site at both facilities, and helped corral some animals at the Dakota Zoo so they could be transported to other facilities.  However, she is quick to point out that the zoo staff at both facilities, with the assistance of several cooperating state and local agencies, state veterinarians, four neighboring zoos and the National Guard, had everything under control. Read more »

Campaign to Cut Waste: Fighting Fraud and Slashing Errors

Cross posted from the White House blog:

Just days after the White House launch of the Campaign to Cut Waste, an Administration-wide initiative to crack down on unnecessary spending, two federal agencies announced new progress in fighting fraud and cracking down on improper payments.

In a dose of bad news for criminals looking to take advantage of our seniors and defraud Medicare, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today they’ll be deploying innovative technology in the fight against Medicare Fraud. Starting July 1, CMS will begin using predictive modeling technology, similar to that used by credit card companies, to identify potentially fraudulent Medicare claims on a nationwide basis, and help stop fraudulent claims before they are paid. This initiative builds on the strides made with the Recovery Act to utilize the kinds of cutting edge tools used by the private sector — as well as new anti-fraud tools and resources provided by the Affordable Care Act. Read more »

New Farms for New Americans in Vermont

Clothilde Ntahomvukiye, 63 and Michele Mpambazi, 64 are married and farm together in the New Farms for New Americans project.  They were both born in Bujumburi, Burundi.  They have been farmers since they were children.

Clothilde Ntahomvukiye, 63 and Michele Mpambazi, 64 are married and farm together in the New Farms for New Americans project. They were both born in Bujumburi, Burundi. They have been farmers since they were children.

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Vermont is going above and beyond to reach socially disadvantaged farmers in the Green Mountain state. FSA’s Vermont State Executive Director, Robert Paquin, cites the outstanding work of two Vermont-based FSA employees in particular—brothers Brad and Larry Parker—as key to Vermont FSA’s success in reaching new immigrants from Africa and Asia and helping them adjust to farming in northern New England. Read more »

Homeownership Month Celebrated With Habitat Volunteer Day in Virginia

Second step from bottom (center) is Ms. Brandy Russell the Homeowner. Surrounding her are all of the Rural Development Staff that helped with the final landscaping and construction duties during the Volunteer Day held June 15th...

Second step from bottom (center) is Ms. Brandy Russell the Homeowner. Surrounding her are all of the Rural Development Staff that helped with the final landscaping and construction duties during the Volunteer Day held June 15th...

With Lucy the Habitat Wonder Dog as our mascot, a large group of Virginia Rural Development staff assisted on June 15th, in the completion of the final construction and landscaping duties for Brandy Russell’s home in Ashland, Virginia. Read more »

Agriculture Secretary Meets with Farmers, Tours Flood-Damaged Areas of Iowa and Nebraska

From left: Farmers Steve Roth, Done Rief, Dale Rief, Clifford Dilts discuss topics covered during a town hall meeting with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the Glenwood Community High School in Glenwood, Iowa on Thursday, June 16, 2011. Farmers, local and regional media listened and questioned Secretary Vilsack on the cause of the floodwaters along the Missouri River affecting Iowa and Nebraska. Secretary Vilsack offered advice and assistance available through the United States Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies.

From left: Farmers Steve Roth, Don Rief, Dale Rief, Clifford Dilts discuss topics covered during a town hall meeting with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the Glenwood Community High School in Glenwood, Iowa on Thursday, June 16, 2011. Farmers, local and regional media listened and questioned Secretary Vilsack on the cause of the floodwaters along the Missouri River affecting Iowa and Nebraska. Secretary Vilsack offered advice and assistance available through the United States Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met face-to-face last week with about 40 farmers, ranchers and producers from Iowa and Nebraska impacted by flooding along the Missouri River.  The Secretary promised the group he would stay until every question had been answered and every concerned voiced – and he did just that, engaging in a dialogue that lasted more than two hours. Read more »

Deputy Secretary Celebrates Opening of a Non-Profit Pennsylvania Kitchen for Use by Food Entrepreneurs

The crowd applauded as Deputy Secretary Merrigan, YCEDC and local officials cut the ribbon to signify the official opening of the YorKitchen shared kitchen incubator in downtown York, Pennsylvania.

The crowd applauded as Deputy Secretary Merrigan, YCEDC and local officials cut the ribbon to signify the official opening of the YorKitchen shared kitchen incubator in downtown York, Pennsylvania.

Tucked in the back of York’s historic (circa 1754) downtown Central Market, YorKitchen, a shared commercial kitchen incubator officially opened its doors this morning. The crowd of nearly 40 local supporters applauded as Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, York County Economic Development officials and local officials cut the ribbon at the entrance to the state-of-the-art kitchen.  The kitchen was funded in part through Rural Development. Read more »