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July 2012

New Jersey Girl Wins top Honors in Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl Poster Contest

Caroline Tan, an 11-year-old from Westfield, N.J., is pretty certain about a few things when it comes to natural resources.

“It’s not just about my art, but it does represent something very serious,” Caroline said. “We have to prevent wildfires, not just in art but in real life. It’s not something we should ignore.”

Texas Small Farmers and Ranchers Nonprofit Is Growing in a Big Way

Working alongside USDA agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is second nature for the Texas Small Farmers and Ranchers Community Based Organization.

Founded in 1998, the organization is dedicated to assisting limited resource agricultural producers in parts of Texas with accessing services and programs offered by state and federal agricultural agencies.

Today, the Texas Small Farmers and Ranchers Community Based Organization has grown into a dynamic 400-member organization. It works closely with NRCS staff across Central and East Texas to ensure the success of the nonprofit’s outreach efforts to landowners.

A Science Agenda for Food Security

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.

The world is not merely facing a challenge of sustainably producing enough food to feed a world whose population will exceed 9 billion by 2050, but also confronting the continuous challenge of ensuring that nutritious and safe food reaches needy families, so that every child can have a safe and healthy childhood.  Combating this urgent crisis requires a global collaborative effort.  According to experts, by 2050 agricultural production will need to increase by 70% to meet increased demand for food, diet changes and additional demand for industrial uses for plants.  To help meet this goal, USDA has developed a Global Food Security strategy, focused on research, development, education and extension.  As part of USDA’s Office of the Chief Scientist series of white papers on USDA’s research portfolio, this plan aligns USDA’s food security research with the goals of President Obama’s Global Food Security Initiative, Feed the Future.

U.S. Cherries On Top In South Korean Market

It’s only been four months since the historic U.S.-Korea free trade agreement (KORUS) removed two thirds of the tariffs imposed on U.S. food and agricultural products exported to South Korea. But already, sales of U.S. fresh cherries are on the rise. The elimination of a 24-percent import duty on cherries – along with marketing support from the U.S. cherry industry and the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in Seoul – is helping boost U.S. cherry sales in Korea to record levels.

Fishers Face a New Threat: Poisons Used by Marijuana Growers

Illegal marijuana farms in our nation’s forests are not only threatening the safety of humans in these recreational areas, but are also causing ecological damage to the land. And now, there’s proof that the animals that make the forests their homes are also being harmed.

Gardening at 9,500 Feet!

With gas prices on the rise and the trip to the nearest large grocery store clocking in at 50 miles, Mark Platten realized an opportunity much closer to home. Platten, the Colorado State University Extension Director for Teller County, began brainstorming and came up with the idea for a program that would engage young people in gardening, put fresh food on the table, and facilitate community service opportunities in the town of Cripple Creek, Colorado - a small town situated in the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 9,500.

USDA Rural Development Administrator Tours Rural Maine Public Safety Improvements and Celebrates New Homeowners

USDA Rural Development Administrator for  Housing and Community Programs Tammye Trevino visited Maine to participate in events highlighting a rural police department, new homeowners, and to attend a high-level forum “Housing in America: Innovative Solutions to Address the Needs of Tomorrow” organized by the Bipartisan Policy Center Housing Commission in Partnership with the Jack Kemp Foundation.

Organic 101: Organic Certification Cost Share Programs

This is the seventh installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

Annual organic certification fees allow certifiers to carry out their responsibilities. These fees vary according to an operation’s size and other variables. In light of that, the USDA organic cost share programs help to ensure that these costs don’t discourage those wanting to pursue organic certification. The programs make certification more affordable by reimbursing producers and handlers for as much as 75%—up to a maximum of $750 a year—for their certification costs. Eligible costs include application fees, inspection fees, travel for certification inspectors, and even postage.