Skip to main content

May 2012

Abandoned Mine Lands Restored to Improve Watershed Health in Ohio

For nearly a century, the aquatic life that once thrived in the Monday Creek Watershed has been virtually dead. The goal of this Recovery Act project, known as "Devastation to Destination," is to construct a healthy functioning riparian corridor, restore water quality, and create an integrated land management strategy resulting in species diversity among existing aquatic and wildlife habitats. It is located in Perry County between the towns of New Straitsville and Shawnee, Ohio.

USDA Community Facilities Program Supports Job Growth Across America

Earlier today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released a report highlighting the ways in which Community Facilities infrastructure investments in rural communities help create jobs and boost economic development, and Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager announced additional investments that will create jobs and promote economic growth across the nation.

The Community Facilities program supports job growth across the nation.  For example, recently, Under Secretary Tonsager had the opportunity to visit Greene County Medical Center (GCMC) in Jefferson, Iowa.  The 75-year-old hospital is planning a large expansion and renovation project that will create a state-of-the-art medical campus and USDA Rural Development will be involved in a big way.

USDA Works to Reopen Export Markets for Virginia and South Carolina Logs

When pest detections led China to suspend exports of logs from Virginia and South Carolina last spring, USDA began work to minimize the impact of this trade disruption on one of those states’ most important industries.

We began by negotiating with China to establish science-based standards to allow log exports to resume.  Our work culminated in a visit by Chinese officials to South Carolina and Virginia. The delegation’s visit took them to facilities where state and Federal officials carry out agricultural inspections and treatments, tours of port facilities, and demonstrations of land management practices at forests, nurseries, and logging operations across Virginia and South Carolina.

USDA Revolving Loan Fund Creating Jobs, Boosting Businesses in Southwest Minnesota

Since 1997, Prairieland Economic Development Commission in Slayton, Minnesota, has been partnering with USDA Rural Development and local lenders to grow the economy and create jobs in southwestern Minnesota.

Prairieland has financed over 60 rural businesses and helped create hundreds of jobs using funds provided through four Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) awards from Rural Development. Prairieland’s main service area covers southwestern Minnesota and portions of northwest Iowa and eastern South Dakota.

John Padalino, the acting administrator of Rural Development’s business and cooperative programs, visited Worthington, Minn., on May 22 to see firsthand the impact Prairieland’s IRP investments are making in the community.

Feeding More Marylanders by Stretching Federal Dollars

Recently I had a great opportunity to attend a meeting of Maryland’s Partnership to End Childhood Hunger.  Led by Governor Martin O’Malley’s Office for Children, the Partnership "table" brings together state agencies, USDA, local non-profit organizations such as food banks, advocacy groups, and the private sector.  Since November of 2008, the Partnership has focused its efforts on connecting individuals to federal nutrition programs and bridging the gap between eligibility and participation.

USDA in Arizona Partners with the Department of Education to Help Rural Students Obtain College Aid

USDA in Arizona has joined the national partnership effort with the Department of Education (ED) to get the word out about federal student aid resources.

Arizona Rural Development (RD), Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)—the three USDA agencies that comprise most of the service centers across Arizona—are sending information packets to their staff in local offices across the State. In a joint statement, the agencies noted that “This is a great opportunity for the many students in areas who may not have easy access to the information. Field office locations in rural communities across the state make it a logical partner to help spread the word about all the kinds of help available for students who want to further their education.”

Discover Fun Ways to Grow Healthy, Eat Healthy & Be Healthy

Kids and families are invited to join staff from the U.S. Department of Agriculture People’s Garden Initiative on Friday, June 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the opening of the USDA Farmers Market as well as discover fun ways to Grow Healthy, Eat Healthy & Be Healthy! It will be a day filled with hands-on activities that will help enhance your commitment to healthy eating and 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

Need Ag Data Options? We Have You Covered from Beans to Sheep.

In our never-ending quest to satisfy the agricultural community’s and general public’s thirst for information, USDA Market News is collaborating with to add custom reports to our portal websites

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) collects and publishes a high volume of market information for five major commodity areas.  With the addition of the custom reports feature, we are offering tools that will help farmers, ranchers, and businesses be able to manage, sort, and view our data in a more meaningful way. You can drill down and generate tailored historical reports that include only the data points you need and also download it in a variety of standard formats, like XML or plain text.

Pacific NW Ski Area Association Honors Forest Service Scientists

In recognition of their nearly 70 years of combined service to the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association, Garth Ferber, Kenny Kramer, and Mark Moore are sharing the group’s 2012 Partner of the Year awards.

The three are meteorologists employed by the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center– a unit of the U.S. Forest Service located in National Weather Service Forecast Office in Seattle, Wash.

The Partner honor is reserved for a Forest Service employee who significantly and decisively helps to improve the quality and safety of Pacific Northwest winter sports facilities. This year the Association broke with tradition and presented three awards.

MyPlate Celebrates Its First Anniversary; Prompting People to Eat Healthy

June 2, 2012 will mark the first anniversary of the release of MyPlate food icon.  At ceremonies a year earlier, First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled the federal government’s new food icon to serve as a reminder to help consumers make healthier food choices. MyPlate, which replaced MyPyramid, is a new generation icon with the intent to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at meal times and to seek more information to help them by going to  The new MyPlate icon emphasizes the fruit, vegetable, grains, protein and dairy food groups.  On September 30, MiPlato, a Spanish version of MyPlate was released by Secretary Vilsack, U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and White House Chef Sam Kass to reach the Hispanic population in the United States.  Today, MyPlate and MiPlato are among the most recognized food images developed by the government.