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2016

Research in Energy Security Helps Lead to Food Security in West Africa

Research shows the majority of people in Africa depend on biomass to meet their energy needs, with approximately 80 percent relying on wood energy. Such high dependency makes families vulnerable to unexpected and sudden changes, including extreme weather and socio-political events. Researching and developing ways to diversify energy sources is crucial for a more sustainable, food secure future.

A project funded through the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Cochran Fellowship Program on “Biofuels for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods,” hosted by the University of Missouri (MU) College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources International Programs, set out to address this very issue. The research and training program was organized for West African Cochran Fellows to learn how different uses of biofuels can help support sustainable livelihoods in their communities. The two-week-long program consisted of workshops, field visits and interactive discussions in cooperation with the USDA Forest Products Laboratory, the MU Center for Agroforestry, Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture and Envest Microfinance.

SNAP Employment and Training (E&T): USDA Study Finds Skills, Credentials Critical to Helping SNAP Participants Find Jobs

The vast majority of jobs in the future will require some level of education beyond high school.  Unfortunately, these jobs are out of reach for the majority of SNAP participants, who often lack the skills they need to compete in today’s job market.  To combat this challenge, USDA offers the SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program. SNAP E&T, which is available in all states, is a skills and job training program designed to help SNAP participants prepare for and secure jobs that lead to economic self-sufficiency.  SNAP E&T programs provide SNAP participants the opportunities to gain skills, training and experience, which increase their ability to qualify and get hired for jobs with earnings high enough to transition off of SNAP.  A newly released SNAP E&T Best Practices report provides new insights into how states can strengthen SNAP E&T programs and make them more effective at helping SNAP participants gain the skills employers are seeking and support long-term self-sufficiency for SNAP participants. 

Wily coyotes continue to thrive in the Southeast at the expense of deer populations

Coyotes began migrating eastward throughout the latter half of the 20th Century. Once restricted to the western plains, they now occupy most of the continent and have invaded farms and cities, where they have expanded their diet to include squirrels, household pets and discarded fast food.

Land-use changes in the U.S., the disappearance of wolves, a growing human population, and a remarkable ability to adapt to new environments and conditions encouraged coyotes to expand into new habitats and thrive, while other predators faced with similar pressures dwindled and faced extinction.

100 Strong: Rural Impact County Challenge Achieves Goal

In April, the White House Rural Council partnered with the National Association of Counties to announce the Rural Impact County Challenge, a call for at least 100 counties to pledge to create opportunity for children in rural areas. On October 25, we achieved this goal. These 100 community leaders will prove instrumental in addressing the opportunity gap for rural kids, which is so often compounded by rural counties' distance from health and early learning programs, lack of access to public transportation, and higher rates of drug and substance abuse.

Small towns and rural communities are home to millions of Americans, include some of our most beautiful landmarks and provide the vast majority of food, energy, and environmental benefits for the rest of the country.

Farm to School Efforts Positively Impact Tribal Communities

An ancient belief held by tribal communities is that the soil is cared for by Mother Earth, the nurturer and the protector of the land. This idea speaks to the importance of farm to school efforts in tribal communities.  And many tribal communities are reconnecting children with their rich history and cultures by establishing farm to school programs.

Tribes are integrating traditional foods into the Child Nutrition Programs, sourcing foods locally, incorporating multicultural nutrition education into classroom curriculum and providing hands-on lessons in school gardens. USDA’s Office of Community Food Systems supports tribal communities through the USDA Farm to School Grant Program, assisting tribes across the nation to connect with local producers and teaching children about where their food comes from.

Now What? 5 Ways to Use Leftover Turkey

 

This week, many Americans will gather together with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving. When the fun is done, you may be left with more turkey than you anticipated. MyPlate is here to help with these unique ways to use up those leftovers!

MyPlate encourages you to choose lean sources of protein. Selections from the Protein Foods group, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans and peas, provide nutrients that are vital for the health and maintenance of your body. Turkey is a versatile food and an excellent source of lean protein!

Meet the Experts: USDA’s National Agricultural Library Launches New Online Food Safety Video Collection

Food is necessary and can be quite enjoyable, but it must also be safe to eat. Unfortunately, about one out of six Americans gets sick from eating contaminated food at some point during the year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Scientists from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) work for one of the federal agencies that conducts research to help make the foods we eat safer. To help the public more easily access USDA food safety research information, the department’s National Agricultural Library’s Food Safety Research Information Office (FSRIO) has launched a new “Meet the Experts” online video collection available on the NAL website.

Hacking Away at Common Agricultural Issues

 

Hackathons aim to solve real problems and USDA, along with the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and the California State Fair, hosted a competitive one this past July. Software developers, designers, entrepreneurs, farmers, farm consultants, marketers and others in the agricultural industry participated in the Hackathon, which was held at the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources building in Davis, California. Participants competed for cash prizes at a “pitchfest” in front of a live audience at the California State Fair on Sunday, July 17, Prizes were awarded to the top three apps: first place won $5,000, second place $3,000 and third place $1,500. People who work in agriculture brought with them ideas for problems that technology may help solve.

“Apps for Ag” Hackathons have already resulted in multiple startups and we want to see this momentum continue to grow,” said Robert Tse, USDA California Rural Development chief strategy officer for agriculture technology and innovation. “There was no better place than the State Fair in the Capitol to showcase the ingenuity of California’s Ag tech community.”

Aviation History Month: Aircraft and Paratroopers in the Forest Service

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the U.S. Forest Service relies heavily on fixed wing and rotary aircraft to accomplish the agency’s mission. Employees take to the skies for forest inventory surveys, prescribed fire support, firefighting or to get to remote locations. Since 1919, aircraft has been an invaluable resource for the agency.

There are differing accounts as to when the Forest Service first put aircraft to use. But, it wasn’t until 1919 when Forest Service leadership talked about the use of aviation resources. In April, Forester Coert du Bois told Chief Forester Henry Graves that aerial fire patrols would begin on the Angeles and Cleveland National Forests. These patrols, supported by military pilots from the Air Service of the U.S. Army, continued through 1927, after which the Air Service could no longer support the agency.