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June 2013

The Lone Ranger Stars Depp, Hammer ... and the Santa Fe National Forest

Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, stars of Disney’s The Lone Ranger debuting July 3, join a long list of formidable Hollywood greats, including Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, Elizabeth Taylor and John Wayne, who have acted on the nation’s outdoor soundstage – a national forest.

Last year during 10 days of filming on the in New Mexico, the Gilman Tunnels served as the backdrop for a scene in The Lone Ranger where a train passes through the tunnels.

Research Helps the Dairy Industry Refuel and Flex its Muscles

Successful businesses use research to meet changing consumer demands. The dairy industry uses innovative research promoted by National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board (commonly referred to as the or MilkPEP), and other organizations to find new markets for their products. Milk has always been known as a good source of calcium and for helping to strengthen bones. However, recent studies have proven that there are other benefits of drinking milk.

Whether you are a college soccer player, a professional cyclist or just working out for better health, several studies have shown that drinking lowfat chocolate milk after a tough workout . The research has caught the attention of a new audience: athletes and adults looking for peak athletic performances. Whether they are training for a big race or preparing for the next weight lifting workout at the gym, lowfat chocolate milk is becoming a popular drink for adults.

Making a House a Home - A Labor of Love

June is Homeownership Month.  Today we are sharing a first person account of a 76-year old Kentucky resident who used USDA’s home loan program to purchase her first home.  She submitted this account through the USDA Rural Development Kentucky State Office and we are sharing it so that others who are interested will better understand the steps that must be taken before closing. USDA has helped rural residents purchase homes since 1949. Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA Direct and Guaranteed home loan programs have helped more than 650,000 rural residents buy houses.   Each buyer has a story.  Here is one of them.

10 Reasons Why Congress Must Act to Pass a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill

Getting a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill passed this year is essential – and it can’t fall victim to politics as usual. Too much is at stake, and too many people lose out if Congress can’t act.  Here are 10 good reasons why Congress must take action as soon as possible to achieve passage of a Farm Bill this year:

1. America’s farmers, ranchers and producers need certainty about the next five years of U.S. farm policy, to continue the recent momentum of the U.S. agricultural economy and rising farm income.

Before You Toss Food, Wait. Check It Out!

It’s happened to all of us: you’re looking for something in the freezer or pantry, and discover food that has been forgotten. Your first impulse is to throw it out, but wait!  Is it still good? Chances are it is!

Food poisoning bacteria does not grow in the freezer, so no matter how long a food is frozen, it is safe to eat. Foods that have been in the freezer for months () may be dry, or may not taste as good, but they will be safe to eat. So if you find a package of ground beef that has been in the freezer more than a few months, don’t throw it out. Use it to make chili or tacos. The seasonings and additional ingredients can make up for loss of flavor.

Virginia State University's (VSU) Small Farm Outreach Program Offers Education Sessions to Increase Opportunity for Rural Businesses

In support of Secretary Vilsack’s implementation of President Obama’s agenda to put Americans back to work and create an economy built to last, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) in collaboration with Virginia State University’s (VSU) Small Farm Outreach Program will host Rural Small Business Connections.  This training event will provide small businesses with a series of educational networking sessions and opportunities on how to build capacity and successfully do business with USDA and other Federal agencies.

Scientists Discover Gene to Combat Devastating Wheat Rust

USDA scientists and their partners have found a molecular tool that will help control wheat stem rust, a fungal disease threatening much of the world’s wheat supply.

First reported in 1999 in Uganda, wheat stem rust--caused by the Ug99 pathogen--is a devastating disease in several countries in Africa and the Middle East where losses can be up to 70 percent. Many experts predict this specific strain could spread rapidly, causing a wheat shortage affecting food security worldwide. Ninety percent of the wheat grown worldwide is susceptible, so if no preventive action is taken, it could cause wheat shortages and affect food security.

A Healthier Generation Through Smart Snacks in Schools

Today, USDA is furthering its commitment to improving the way that our youngsters eat by establishing science-based, common-sense standards for snacks sold in schools. The new “” nutrition standards will positively impact more than 50 million American youngsters by ensuring that they are offered only healthier foods at school.

StrikeForce Partnership Fighting Hunger in Virginia

USDA in Virginia is forging partnerships this summer to ensure that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Under the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) based program, free, nutritious meals are provided to all kids 18 years old and under at approved sites in areas with significant concentrations of low-income children.

The Food and Nutrition Service’s Food Service Program has found an ally in its fight against childhood hunger with its partnership with to help get the word out about the problem of summer nutrition. With over 270 Multi Family complexes located across Virginia, some of which are in persistent poverty counties, this relationship has the potential to benefit many children statewide.  Over 30 kids enjoyed a healthy and nutritious meal at the Sandston Woods Multi Family Housing Apartment Complex on June 25th to kick off the program.

Buried Alive: The Petrifying True Story of a Forest Turned to Stone

Imagine nearing the remote, rugged crest of the Gallatin Range in Montana’s . As you scramble up-slope, you put your hand against what appears to be a lightning-blasted stump for balance. But the stump is not weather-polished wood—it’s made of stone.

These are the 50-million-year-old remains of redwoods, pines and sycamores which make up the Gallatin Petrified Forest, where fossilized tree trunks are preserved in so much detail that cellular structures may be seen under a microscope and growth rings are often visible to the naked eye. But how did these trees turn to stone?