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Posts tagged: Pennsylvania

Affordable Care Act Gives New Farmers the Freedom to Farm

As every farmer and rancher will tell you, life on the farm means you make tough choices every day. At times the challenges and risks facing farmers, especially those just starting out, can seem difficult and daunting. Now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, new farmers have one less thing to worry about: they no longer have to choose between doing what they love and having access to affordable, reliable health insurance coverage for themselves and their families.

There are stories like Elena, who worked alongside her father on their Colorado farm throughout her early 20s. The Affordable Care Act allowed her to remain on her parent’s health insurance through the age of 25. But after she turned 26, she had to take a job in town that came with health benefits. By getting Affordable Care Act marketplace coverage, she was able to come back to her family farm while maintaining access to health coverage. Read more »

Farm Bill Program Helps Improve Water Quality in the Delaware River Watershed

Deputy Under Secretary Ann Mills announces Farm Bill funding support to improve water quality in the Delaware River Basin. NRCS photo.

Deputy Under Secretary Ann Mills announces Farm Bill funding support to improve water quality in the Delaware River Basin. NRCS photo.

The Delaware River watershed is one of our nation’s most treasured resources. It is home to more than 7 million people and the water supply for more than 15 million in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. An historic new Farm Bill program at USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will help farmers and local leaders make investments to keep the watershed healthy and vibrant for years to come.

Secretary Vilsack recently announced the recipients of the 2014 Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) awards.  This new program will invest $1.2 billion over five years in innovative, partner-driven strategies to protect air and water quality, make more efficient use of water resources, restore habitat and protect open spaces.  This year’s RCPP awards nation-wide total more than $370 million dollars. Counting the dollar-for-dollar partner match, almost three quarters of a billion dollars will be invested in private land conservation through the RCPP. Read more »

Allegheny Helps Protect a Special Rattler’s Home

A timber rattlesnake captured in a tube will be fitted with a transmitter in order to discover and protect new dens. (U.S. Forest Service)

A timber rattlesnake captured in a tube will be fitted with a transmitter in order to discover and protect new dens. (U.S. Forest Service)

Throughout history, literature and movies, snakes have taken a hit in the public relations department. Think of Cleopatra and the legend of the deadly asp, or the various snakes so feared by a seemingly fearless Indiana Jones in a series of movies by the same name. Then, there is “Snakes on a Plane,” a horrifying look at being stuck on an airplane thousands of feet over the Pacific Ocean as hundreds of deadly and poisonous snakes crawl about.

Not surprisingly, ophidiophobia is rather common. But the fear of snakes in many cases is unwarranted and based on misinformation. Read more »

USDA and Habitat for Humanity to Build Homes and Ladders of Opportunity

USDA Rural Development Pennsylvania State Director Thomas Williams helped future homeowner Judy Aguero put the first nails into the doorway of her new home.

USDA Rural Development Pennsylvania State Director Thomas Williams helped future homeowner Judy Aguero put the first nails into the doorway of her new home.

On a blustery cold November morning, it was heartwarming to help Judy Aguero put the first nails into the doorway of her new home. Ms. Aguero, a single mom, was born in New York City and moved to Pennsylvania when she was 15 years old. When her mother was deported back to Santo Domingo, Judy lived with members of her church. By 19, she was expecting a child and living at a homeless shelter. Overcoming all odds, Judy was determined to make a better life for herself and her child. She is currently employed as a Certified Nursing Assistant and is working on an associate’s degree in social work. Through York Habitat for Humanity, she will be moving into a new three bedroom, one bath two-story duplex in the spring of 2015 with her daughter, Yudelka.

USDA Rural Development’s Pennsylvania housing staff recently met with York Habitat for Humanity (York Habitat) to partner our resources to help bring homeownership to reality for rural Pennsylvanians. York Habitat will be working as a packager to help hardworking potential homeowners like Judy complete applications for the USDA 502 Direct Home Loan Program.  Through the program, direct homeownership loans are available to lower income individuals and families. Payments are based on income, with no down payment required. It’s just another way Rural Development is creating ladders of opportunity to help people have the tools they need to climb into the middle class. Read more »

Federal Research Jumps from Lab to Marketplace

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

An innovative network of public- and private-sector groups are working together to transfer federal research out of the lab and into the marketplace—where it can not only solve important agricultural problems, but also serve as an economic accelerator. Such is the Agricultural Research Partnerships (ARP) Network, a program created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, (ARS) Office of Technology Transfer.

The ARP Network is really sort of a 21st-century rolodex crossed with a marriage broker—a group of about 30 regional organizations across the U.S. who have close connections with companies, agriculture associations, economic development groups, venture capitalists and economic incubators within their region or State.  ARP Network partners match businesses and organizations in their regions that have technology needs to ARS researchers or ARS technologies that are ready for development and commercialization. Read more »

New Day, Same Mission: The Evolution of SNAP

A collection of stamps and coupons from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Stamp Programs. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History.

A collection of stamps and coupons from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Stamp Programs. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History.

This fall, USDA is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Food Stamp Act of 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, which made the Food Stamp Program permanent.  In looking back over the past 50 years, there are two notable events in the program’s history that had a significant impact on the transformation of the original Food Stamp Program in 1964 to the program we know today as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

First, the Food Stamp Act of 1977 was a major program milestone, because it established national eligibility standards for participation and eliminated the purchase requirement for food stamps.  The new standards meant that the amount of benefits a household received depended on the household’s size, income, and expenses, a standard that remains today.  The elimination of the purchase requirement meant that people received their benefits upfront, without the intermediary step of purchasing the food stamp first.  The Food Stamp Act of 1977, therefore, removed a major barrier to participation in the program while also ensuring that benefits would be targeted to those most in need.  As a result, the mission of the Food Stamp Program to mitigate the effects of poverty was strengthened. Read more »