Tornado damage at the National Finance Center (NFC) Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017 in New Orleans, LA. USDA photo by Mike Clanton.
Within minutes of being notified of an impending storm, the employees of the US Department of Agriculture’s National Finance Center (NFC) in New Orleans felt the devastating impact of the EF-3 tornado that descend upon the two-story building with enough force to tear away whole sections of the brick façade in eight places and leave portions of its interior exposed to the elements.
“I could see it coming,” said Tara Gilliam, chief of Human Resources Management Staff. “It swallowed the building in a matter of seconds.” Read more »
Elvis Cordova, Acting Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, U.S. Department of Agriculture, addressing the North Dakota Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force in Bismarck, North Dakota
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery and many survivors of it didn’t realize that their situation was a crime. This crime occurs when a trafficker uses force, fraud or coercion to control another person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or soliciting labor or services against his/her will. Any child engaged in a commercial sex act is a victim of trafficking, regardless of force, fraud, or coercion.
This summer, USDA and HHS leveraged its resources to coordinate efforts that address the needs of human trafficking survivors in rural and tribal areas. This joint partnership resulted as part of the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the U.S., a five-year plan by the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. This Plan outlines more than 250 actions the Federal government will take to coordinate and collaborate on anti-trafficking responses with state, Tribal, and local government and non-government organizations. Read more »
NRCS Soil Conservation Technician Allen Hughes mailed longleaf pine needles from his backyard to Oregon to be used to weave baskets, a Native American tradition across the U.S. Photo: Justin Fritscher, NRCS.
The 567 federally-recognized Native American Tribes are unique in their own way—from their languages and family structure, to their clothing and food. Tribes are working hard to revive their roots to help reconnect their heritage to the land, rekindle their spiritual bonds and cultural traditions, and raise awareness amongst future generations; especially tribal youth in line to inherit the land.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works with the tribes like the Choctaw Indians, comprised of nearly 10,000 members across the United States, to farm and harvest hickory king corn and other heirloom white varieties, and process them to make hominy. Hominy is made from dried corn kernels, but it is expensive to purchase. NRCS provides the tribe with technical assistance to help transform idle land into a hominy-making enterprise–enabling the tribe to provide their own locally-grown, fresh produce, and cut their expenses by growing the corn. Read more »
Judges deliberate during the Central Louisiana Farm to School Iron Chef Competition.
On October 22, the newest celebrity chefs of Alexandria, La. gathered at the Inglewood Farm’s Harvest Barn Market to celebrate National Farm to School Month. Their purpose: emerge victorious from the Farm to School Iron Chef Competition.
This competition challenged contestants to create a dish using a “secret ingredient,” in this case sweet potatoes – a fall favorite and regional staple. Each of the four teams sourced sweet potatoes from local farmers in central Louisiana. Students worked alongside parents and teachers to prepare and present their dishes at the market on the day of the competition. The event was organized by the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA). Consisting of economic development entities from ten parishes across Louisiana, CLEDA’s mission is to help people prosper in vibrant, thriving communities. Read more »
The Gulf Coast ecosystem is vital to our nation and our economy.
The Gulf Coast ecosystem is vital to our nation and our economy, providing valuable energy resources, abundant seafood, extraordinary recreational activities and a rich cultural heritage. This ecosystem was significantly injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill—the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history—and has also suffered from harm caused by hurricanes, subsidence and other human actions and naturally-occurring events.
With the historic settlement of the litigation with BP, there will be up to $16 billion available for ecosystem restoration in watersheds across Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas through the RESTORE Act, the Natural Resource Damages Assessment process and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Read more »
Lafayette Area Technician Dianne Robert and her son, Elijah, help package food and supplies at their local shelter.
Last month, many parts of Southern Louisiana were faced with disastrous flooding that submerged thousands of homes and businesses and also resulted in 13 reported deaths. The flood has been called the worst U.S. natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Seeing homes where families have spent their entire lives destroyed along with gutted furniture piled on neighborhood sidewalks is truly heartbreaking. While distressing, I do believe that through the strength of the community, Louisiana will continue to rebuild and move forward. I am most proud to see residents working together each day after such a tragedy. Some of the USDA Rural Development (RD) Louisiana staff members have volunteered their time with the American Red Cross at local shelters or have helped clean out their neighbors’ damaged homes. Despite the devastation, these RD staff volunteers have approached this work in a positive and kind-hearted manner. Read more »