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New York USDA Staff Steps Forward to Help Hurricane Sandy Victims

When the state first heard the news about a storm possibly hitting the East Coast, many people in New York did not know what to expect. Would it make landfall before New York? Would it take a turn and dissipate over the Atlantic Ocean? Forecasters had predicted that the storm would deliver “severe winds, rain and even the potential of life-threatening flooding throughout the Eastern seaboard.” As New York City began widespread evacuations and shuttered the City’s transit system, the state collectively held its breath.

USDA Urges Holiday Shoppers to Sample Local Businesses

Saturday, November 24, 2012 is Small Business Saturday.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, in partnership with the White House and the Small Business Administration, proudly supports this important effort by asking everyone to shop at small businesses whenever possible.  Presently, there are 28 million small businesses throughout the United States, representing 44 percent of U.S. private sector payroll.  These small businesses also create 2 out of every 3 new American jobs.

Bringing Federal Partners to the Local Foods Table

Three years ago this fall, Secretary Vilsack and I launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative (KYF2).  Since then, we’ve seen interest and participation in local and regional food systems grow beyond anything we expected: whether I’m meeting with buffalo ranchers from the Great Plains or with members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I hear about efforts to connect producers and consumers locally and interest in how USDA can help.

In meetings of the White House Rural Council, which has representatives from across the federal government, regional food systems have been a key part of discussions.

2012 Census of Agriculture Provides Producers Thanks and Hope this Holiday

As our nation’s farm families gather this Thanksgiving to count their many blessings and reflect on this year’s harvest, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) urges producers to ensure their farm or ranch is also counted in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. The Census is a crucial tool that provides farmers with a voice in the future of their community and operation.

Giving Thanks for Research

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.

When you sit down to your Thanksgiving feast and reflect on the bounty on your table, you might want to say a quiet “thank you” to the agricultural researchers who have made your holiday favorites so plentiful and so good for you, too.

Let’s start with the Thanksgiving star: the turkey.  This Native American bird was rapidly slipping in popularity in the 1930s because smaller family size and smaller iceboxes meant there were too many unwieldy leftovers from the big birds.

2012 People’s Garden Fall Webinar Series: Ingredients for a Healthy Garden

The feedback about last year’s webinar series was overwhelmingly positive! That’s why USDA’s People's Garden Initiative is bringing it back.

We’re asked all the time for a specific recipe for starting and sustaining a People’s Garden. And each of this year’s webinars focus on ingredients that can be mixed into any garden project to make it healthier: processing and storing seeds, engaging volunteers, growing native plants, composting, and school garden best practices.

The series of five hour-long trainings will broadcast live on Thurs. Nov. 29, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13 and Wed. Dec. 5 and Dec. 12 from 12 noon to 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. They are free for anyone to watch live online. Register at to participate.

A Thanksgiving Treat--Local Foods for Schools in a Minnesota Community

On a fall morning in Mrs. Jones’ sixth-grade class in Tracy, Minn., students are learning how to make pumpkin pudding.

Instead of using a can opener to pry the lid off cans of pumpkin, a real pumpkin is being used. And not just any real pumpkin, a pumpkin that came straight from a local garden and into the classroom.

The classroom isn’t the only place in Tracy Elementary where local foods are becoming more prevalent. The lunchroom also features more foods grown by local producers and served in school lunches.

APHIS Helps Fight Pet Overpopulation on Tribal Lands

Years passed, but no one was able to get near the stray dog roaming the 90 acres of the Ely Shoshone Tribal District in Nevada. Tribal members had tried many times to corral her, to no avail.

Then, in 2011, the stray became pregnant, giving birth to a litter under a walkway at the tribe’s clinic. Occasionally, the puppies were heard crying, but a few weeks later their cries grew less noticeable. When employees became concerned, they resorted to tearing up the walkway. Only one of three puppies was still alive, but it soon died after being taken to a veterinarian for care.

Many communities in the United States, including Native American tribes like the Ely Shoshone, face similar problems when dogs and cats are not spayed or neutered. Frequently, when humans are unable to take care of their unsprayed or unneutered animals, they abandon them -- bringing problems ranging from cats forming feral colonies to abandoned dogs becoming wild packs. Worse, a significant public health threat looms from potential dog bites and animals carrying diseases that can be transmitted to humans, primarily through ticks.

Join USDA in Helping those Affected by Hurricane Sandy

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we want to share valuable information about Federal relief efforts and resources to help those impacted in the Northeast. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is coordinating with States and partner organizations to provide disaster nutrition assistance to individuals in 14 states affected by Hurricane Sandy.