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FACT vs. FICTION: USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Over the last 15 years, the USDA has made great strides in our efforts to reduce fraud and abuse in its programs.  Payment accuracy has never been higher:  in FY 2010, 96.19 percent of all benefits were issued correctly, the fourth consecutive year the program has achieved a historically high rate.  Without this improvement, the cost of improper payments would have been $356 million higher.  Trafficking in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has also declined, from four percent of benefits to its current level of one percent.  While these are positive trends, any trafficking or error is too much, and we will continue to be aggressive in efforts to improve integrity and maintain public confidence that benefits are being used responsibly.  But we know that misinformation and confusion about SNAP exists and so we have highlighted some of the most common misconceptions and presented the facts below. Read more »

A USDA Acting Deputy Under Secretary Meets with Those Affected by Midwest Flooding

Flooding devastation  in Missouri put farmland underwater.

Flooding devastation in Missouri put farmland underwater.

On the heels of Secretary Vilsack’s visit to the Midwest last week to inspect Missouri River flood damage to area farms and communities, Farm and Foreign Service (FFAS) Acting Deputy Under Secretary Karis Gutter stopped by Mounds City, Missouri and Hamburg, Iowa to hear from local producers, and to see for himself the devastating effects of the flooding. Read more »

Alaskan Tlingit Elder Leaves Long-Lasting Legacy

The Forest Service fondly remembers the contributions of  Dr. Walter A. Soboleff, a centenarian deeply revered and Tlingit elder, who died last month at the age of 102.

Located in Alaska, the Tlingit are a Native society that developed a complex hunter-gatherer culture in the temperate rainforest of the Alexander Archipelago in the Southeastern part of the state. The people in this society were the original caretakers of natural resources where the current-day Tongass National Forest exists. Read more »

With USDA Support, a Colorado Resident has a New Home

Left to right – Standing on the deck of Greg Kane’s new residence in the Colorado mountains.   Greg Kane, Homeowner;  Alan Stephens, Acting Rural Development Housing Chief of Staff; and Colorado State Director Jim Isgar.

Left to right – Standing on the deck of Greg Kane’s new residence in the Colorado mountains. Greg Kane, Homeowner; Alan Stephens, Acting Rural Development Housing Chief of Staff; and Colorado State Director Jim Isgar.

Owning a home in the same area where he built his business is a win-win for new homeowner Greg Kane.  In early June 2011, Kane purchased his studio condominium at Riverbend, Colorado,  through the help of US Bank Home Mortgage and the USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Rural Housing Loan Program.  Homeownership was the right answer for Kane’s housing dilemma.  Over the past four years as a renter he moved five times.  While his relationships with property owners had always been great, it seemed that something always came up. Twice the homes he was renting were sold and the new owners chose to use it as their primary residence. Read more »

Risk Management Agency Administrator Reassures Farmers along the Flooded Missouri River

As Administrator of USDA’s Risk management Agency (RMA), I want to assure affected producers within the flood-swollen areas of the Missouri River that this flood event is covered by crop insurance for those insured farmers and ranchers within the terms and conditions of their policy. The flood happening now is the result of extraordinary amounts of rainfall this spring and winter snow runoff, which is a natural cause of loss and covered by crop insurance.  We’ve spoken with the crop insurance companies and they assure us that they have adequate, experienced staff along with additional adjusters as needed to help settle claims as soon as they can get into the fields.

Some farmers have contacted RMA and voiced concerns that the flooded lands may not be covered by crop insurance if there was breach of a water-supporting structure near their land, such as the collapse of a levee, but this is the type of coverage farmers have paid for with their crop insurance premiums. Read more »

APHIS Deputy Administrator for Veterinary Services Dr. John Clifford on World Veterinary Year 2011

I’m Dr. John Clifford, Chief Veterinary Officer for the USDA and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Deputy Administrator for Veterinary Services.  Over nearly the last 26 years I’ve had the pleasure of holding numerous positions within the agency.  Here’s my story on how I got to where I am today.

I was born in Bowling Green, Ky. and my desire to become a veterinarian began while growing up on the family farmstead near Brownsville.  We raised mainly beef cattle and I always liked working with them.  There was one local veterinarian who would come out two or three times a year to our farm.  The highlight of the visits for me was being his assistant.  I learned to work the cattle and about vaccination and preventative treatments.  Those few encounters ignited a hankering that culminated with my career in veterinary medicine. Read more »