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La Niña Triggers Extremes in U.S. Weather

No matter where you live in the United States, you’ve probably noticed that the weather just hasn’t been “normal” in recent months.  Our nation has experienced widespread flooding, relentless drought, expansive wildfires, and devastating tornadoes – sometimes all at once.

Some of the blame has to be directed at La Niña, a cooling of the waters of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.  La Niña developed during the summer of 2010, leading to a profound influence on North American weather from the autumn of 2010 through the spring of 2011.  In typical fashion, La Niña forced the subtropical jet stream northward, resulting in drought development, expansion, and intensification in the South.  At the same, time jet stream disruptions induced by La Niña led to persistently cool, wet conditions across roughly the northern half of the U.S. Read more »

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Highlights USDA’s Efforts to Expand Aviation Biofuels at the Paris Air Show


Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Highlights USDA’s Efforts to Expand the Biofuels Industry at the Paris Air Show

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Highlights USDA’s Efforts to Expand Aviation Biofuels at the Paris Air Show

On Wednesday in Paris, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack earned the distinction as the first U.S. Agriculture Secretary to attend a Paris Air Show, the largest gathering of the world aerospace industry. The Secretary spoke at the Alternative Aviation Fuels Showcase to a crowd of about 75 aviation business leaders about how USDA is among the forefront of U.S. federal efforts to support the development of bio-based fuels. USDA has established memoranda of understanding with several government and aviation-related agencies, including the Department of Energy, the Air Transport Association, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the U.S. Navy, on efforts to research and develop renewable energy and the infrastructure to support it. Read more »

Delaware Homeownership Month Celebration Focuses on Rural Housing, Rural Jobs

Local construction contractors attended a June 22nd ‘work day’ event in the Crescent Shores Subdivision in Lincoln, Delaware to tell the audience of volunteers, homeowners and federal and state officials of how the USDA Rural Development Self-Help Housing Program has kept their businesses alive.

The Self-Help Housing Program was established as a path to homeownership for very-low to low-income families, utilizing a sweat equity model.  It is the only federally –funded homeownership program specifically for rural America. Read more »

Faces of the Forest Celebrates David Ferrell

David Ferrell seems to rebound from setbacks with a vengeance.

During his first semester of college, his mother fell ill and he had to drop out to help take care of her and his four younger siblings. Back home, Ferrell met Charles Minor, a local Virginia man who would become a lifelong influence and who convinced Ferrell to sign up for the Job Corps, his foray into the U.S. Forest Service. Read more »

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 »