USDA

Tim Lloyd/St. Louis Public Radio

A report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows the number of Missouri households threatened by hunger has grown over the past three years.

While the national average shows 14.7 percent of American homes had low or very low food security between 2010 and 2012, Missouri's average is 16.7 percent, or about one out of six households.  That's up from 15 percent during the 2007-2009 survey period.  Glenn Koenen is Hunger Task Force Chair for the Missouri Association for Social Welfare.

(Malory Ensor/KOMU News via Flickr)

Updated with comments from McCaskill conference call.

The entire state of Missouri is now a federal agriculture disaster area.

Seventeen of the state's counties, mostly in the Bootheel, had already received that declaration. Today's announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture extends that declaration to the other 97 counties and the city of St. Louis.

The U.S. Forest Service has released a final environmental impact statement for its new management plan for the nation's public forests.

The new Forest Planning Rule will guide the management of America's 193-million acres of national forest lands, and provide the framework for local forest managers to develop their own forest-specific management plans.

(via Flickr/Alternative Heat)

The National Science Foundation has awarded a local researcher $1.3 million to study the genetics of how corn plants take up nutrients.

The ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of fertilizer needed to grow the ubiquitous crop.

Ivan Baxter, a U.S. Department of Agriculture research scientist and assistant member at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, will lead the research.

(Tim Lloyd for St. Louis Public Radio)

With one of the biggest meals of the year fast approaching, those who rely on St. Louis area food pantries for Thanksgiving may be in trouble. The USDA’s food assistance program is sending far less to agencies like the St. Louis Area Food Bank than in past years. And as Tim Lloyd reports, the shortfall is making it hard for the food banks to keep up with a rising need for help.

(via Flickr/ Shane Pope)

Telephone utilities in 18 states will receive nearly $500 million in U.S. Agriculture Department funds to build, expand and improve broadband in rural areas.

The Ag Department made the announcement Monday during the annual meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in St. Louis.

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the money to 28 telephone utilities will provide high-speed Internet that will improve health care and educational opportunities to rural areas, along with greater job opportunities.

(via Flickr/Dodo-Bird)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a disaster declaration for farmers in 23 Missouri counties, including several in the St. Louis area, hit by floods and heavy rain since May 1.

Friday's declaration allows farmers in those counties and 26 neighboring counties to seek federal assistance for losses caused by the severe weather. Gov. Jay Nixon had requested the declaration last month.

(Wikimedia Commons)

The USDA has chosen two new areas in Missouri to participate in a program promoting biomass energy crops.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the program will pay farmers to plant giant miscanthus, a perennial grass that can be used for energy production.

(Art Chimes)

“Food deserts” – places without access to fresh produce and other healthy foods – continue to be a problem throughout the U.S.

Here in St. Louis, the Old North Grocery Co-op opened last summer, in an effort to increase healthy food options in an underserved part of the city. It’s the first co-op in Missouri to serve a predominantly low-income neighborhood.

The director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Roger Beachy was in St. Louis recently visiting the Old North co-op and discussing the issue of nutrition.

(via Flickr/Artotem)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is reporting that reserves of corn have hit their lowest level in over 15 years.

The high demand for corn could put upward pressure on food prices in 2011.

The USDA says demand for corn in the ethanol industry is up 50 million bushels after record-high production in December and January.

That has left the United States with the lowest surplus of corn since 1996.

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