USDA Under Secretary Lisa Mensah meets with Keith Gabbard, General Manager of Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative in McKee, Ky., on March 3, 2015. Gabbard described the company’s successful “fiber-to-the-premise” broadband project, which was funded in part with loan and grant funds from USDA’s Broadband Initiatives Program. As a result of the project, PRTC was awarded with a Smart Rural Community designation from the National Telephone Cooperative Association.
During my trip to Kentucky, I was truly gratified to see Rural Development’s footprint throughout small towns spread across all regions of the Commonwealth. From water lines, broadband networks, wastewater treatment plants, single and multi-family housing, electric lines, senior centers, hospitals and small businesses, Rural Development helps build communities from the ground up working in partnership with local groups.
Last year, 73 Kentucky counties enduring some of the state’s toughest economic challenges were designated to receive targeted USDA support through USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative. Soon thereafter, President Obama designated a region of eight counties in the state’s southeast corner as one of the country’s first five Promise Zones. Under these designations, USDA works with local partners to leverage federal resources to address the area’s chronic poverty challenges and improve the overall quality of life in the region. Read more »
The recently installed solar panels on the roof of Ideal Dairy in Richfield, Utah save them around $400 per month in utility costs on average.
Last month, Secretary Vilsack announced the opening of the new application cycle for our Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). In addition to the announcement, RBS conducted a national REAP stakeholder forum which discussed program changes and provided examples of successful projects from previous years.
For example, Ideal Dairy restaurant of Richfield, Utah used a REAP grant to leverage a loan from Zions Bank and install an array of solar panels on the roof of its retail location. The addition has saved an average of $400 a month in electricity expenditures for owners Kristi and Gary Sorenson. A larger scale solar project in Guayanila, Puerto Rico allowed a major employer – Master Paints and Chemicals Corporation – to completely offset its $180,000 annual energy expenses and give it independence from fossil fuel-based energy. Read more »
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden listens to farmer José Delgado describe his initiative to introduce locally-grown sorghum feed to Puerto Rico on Jan. 25, 2015. USDA photo by Julie Wright.
Climate change has been deemed one of the greatest challenges facing agriculture, world food security, and human development in the 21st century. It’s a challenge that USDA is working to mitigate while also making sure that our farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are ready to adapt to the challenges it will pose. Just last year we announced the creation of several regional climate hubs — information centers that help to connect a community of farmers, ranchers, researchers and partners committed to finding viable climate solutions. One area that’s been identified as particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change is the Caribbean.
On a recent trip to Puerto Rico, I had the pleasure of visiting the USDA Caribbean Climate Sub Hub in Rio Piedras where I was joined by the Puerto Rico Secretary of Agriculture Hon. Myrna Comas and the Puerto Rico Secretary of Natural Resources Hon. Carmen Guerrero. I was truly impressed by the collaboration taking place at the Caribbean Climate Sub Hub at every level – federal, state, and local. While at the hub, I saw some examples of products, from musical instruments to home decor, made from native wood grown on the island. By working collaboratively with the hub, local producers are able to harvest native woods in a way that both supports forest health and creates new market opportunities. Read more »
Future Scientists Program participants explore corn earworm research projects with Dr. Craig Wilson and Tropical Agriculture Research Station (TARS) scientists in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
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.
To celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics mission area will highlight those who are making significant contributions to American agriculture.
I am fortunate to have a job that I love where I interact with a wide and diverse audience — from Kindergarten students through adolescents to undergraduates and to adults. My role as Director of the USDA’s Hispanic Serving Institutions National Program (HSINP) allows me to educate students and communities about all of the opportunities agriculture has to offer. It’s important that we keep attracting the best and brightest minds to the field to meet the agricultural challenges ahead. Read more »
First Lady Wilma Pastrana Jiménez and others plant seeds in People’s Garden.
Puerto Rico’s First Lady is a big fan of the home garden, and actually, the garden at the governor’s mansion, called La Fortaleza, is part of USDA’s national garden movement.
First Lady Wilma Pastrana Jiménez’s garden was the first People’s Garden at a Puerto Rico state government facility and the third on the island.
The garden joins more than 2,000 across the nation as part of the People’s Garden Initiative, started in 2009 by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Read more »
U.S. Forest Service planning teams must complete rapid assessments of ecosystem conditions on national forests and the effects on those ecosystems (such as this one at Cedar Lake) from stressors, such as climate change. U.S. Forest Service photo
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 the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
From South Carolina’s coastal plain to the North Carolina mountains to the tropics of Puerto Rico to the southern Sierra Nevada region of California, climate change is on the minds of forest planners.
That’s because U.S. Forest Service planning teams in these areas are among the first to revise their land and resource management plans under the 2012 Planning Rule. To help them in their planning, land managers from the Francis Marion, Nantahala, Pisgah, El Yunque, Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra national forests will turn to a web-based tool known as the Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options.
Forest Plans help guide the management of national forests and are typically revised every 10 to 15 years. The plans help ensure that national forests and grasslands continue to meet the requirements of the National Forest Management Act—for clean air and water, timber and other forest products, wildlife habitat, recreation and more. Read more »