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Trees and Shrubs Protect Crops and Generate Income for Farmers

Across the United States, farmers are taking innovative approaches to foster environmental stewardship and economic viability through a common conservation practice called the riparian forest buffer. Supporting production while enhancing conservation is an important goal of both US Department of Agriculture Secretary Perdue’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda (PDF, 196 KB) and of the USDA Forest Service. Agroforestry, the intentional integration of trees and crops and/or livestock to meet economic, conservation, and social goals, is one strategy that offers many innovative “productive conservation” options, including riparian buffers.

Homeownership Provides Hope During a Pandemic

As most staff continue to telework, it is important to acknowledge that dependable program delivery is still the norm, and with the same exceptional customer service that Rural Development staff have become known for. Despite COVID-related challenges, the often life-changing programs the agency provides are making an impact on our rural people, businesses, and communities every day.

Pollinators at a Crossroads

Bees and other pollinators, including birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, wasps, beetles, and small mammals, play a critical role in our food production system. A healthy pollinator population is vital to producing marketable commodities. More than 100 U.S. grown crops rely on pollinators. The added revenue to crop production from pollinators is valued at $18 billion. Pollinators also support healthy ecosystems needed for clean air, stable soils, and a diverse wildlife. That’s why USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) partners with the Land-Grant University System, U.S. government laboratories, and private and non-profit organizations to support research, education, and extension programs advancing pollinator health.

Wisconsin Telecommunications Cooperatives Step Up to Support E-Learning

Wisconsin students across the state adapted to the new normal with e-Learning studies since the Badger State entered the “Safer at Home” status in late March. If you live in a metro area, you probably didn’t struggle with lack of service or low bandwidth. But in the rural areas, it was a big challenge.

Protecting Pollinators from A New Threat – First-Ever U.S. Sightings of Asian Giant Hornet

It’s not the first time that European honey bees and other pollinators in the United States have encountered invasive pests, with the parasitic Varroa mite being the most noteworthy. For years, researchers and beekeepers have wondered what the next invasive pest of concern would be. Perhaps Tropilaelaps mites, a parasitic mite that feeds on bee brood? Or an Asian honey bee, which is known to outcompete our European honey bees? Ultimately, it was the Asian giant hornet, making a confirmed appearance in Washington state during winter of 2019.

Students and Healthcare Services on Maine’s Island Communities Stay Connected

Maine’s island communities are scattered up and down the coastline, many of them miles out to sea - they’re rural communities carving out a life both in and on the Atlantic Ocean. Despite the distance from the mainland, the educators and healthcare workers in this remote area of the state are dedicated to providing the critical services our island residents depend on and have adapted to the necessary changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the elements of this adaptation has been through the use of telecommunications, and as State Director of USDA Rural Development in Maine, I’m happy our agency has been able to serve as a key partner in bringing this technology to our rural island communities.

The Search for Genetic Clues to Determine Chronic Wasting Disease Susceptibility

As cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) continue to rise, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is looking to genetics for new and innovative ways to reduce the prevalence of this brain-wasting disease in farmed and wild deer and elk populations. Working in collaboration with Texas A&M University and Texas Parks and Wildlife, APHIS has identified a handful of promising regions in the white-tailed deer genome allowing the researchers to distinguish animals highly susceptible to CWD with greater than 80 percent accuracy.

Data Say…Dairy Has Changed

When I was younger, I loved to watch a cartoon on TV called ‘The Jetsons,’ which showed life in a future world. People had flying, self-driven “cars” and robotic housekeepers. As a kid who loved her meat and potatoes, I distinctly remember one scene in which Judy Jetson served a steak dinner by getting a pill from a vending-type machine. Her father, George Jetson, savored the two small bites filled with flavor and nutrition. This meal satisfied him completely. I couldn’t then imagine that futuristic dinner scene being a reality, and I still don’t. But technology, science, and marketing have changed the way we produce our food and have altered the structure of farming. Data tell us so. Let’s look at milk as an example.

Keep Food “Cool for the Summer” to Avoid Foodborne Illness

One of the best things about the summer is finally getting to enjoy the warm weather outside, Backyard barbecues and picnics for you and your household can be a great way to get outside while staying safe. But rising temperatures can also bring food safety risks. During warm weather it’s even more important to make sure your food is safe by keeping it “cool for the summer.”

Florida Lab is on the Front Lines in Battle Against Invasive Species

Despite diligent inspection efforts, invasive species still enter our country, overrunning great areas and causing substantial damage. These non-native, exotic plant species threaten agriculture, forestry, and ecosystems by reducing crop yields, degrading water quality, and threatening biodiversity in altered habitats.