Tag Archive for: USDA

USDA Grant Awards for Forest Sustainability

USDA Grant Awards for Forest Sustainability

All forests are important.  Without forests our world would quickly plunge into chaos due to a lack of natural resources to support civilization.  It is important to take good care of our forests but this is no simple task.  Government sectors are making huge advancements in protective programs in conservations and nature reserves. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recently announced that they have agreed to three grants to enhance sustainable management practices for American forest landowners and ranch owners. All North American forests are sustainably managed and these government grants will provide additional assistance.

Image supplied by Pixabay distributed under CC-BY 2.0 License

Director Sonny Ramaswamy of the NIFA said that “These awards further our commitment to enhance the sustainability of the nation’s privately-owned forest and rangeland resources”.  He also added that “Through these innovative projects delivered by Extension educators and specialists, landowners and managers will be able to make better informed, science-based decisions about their lands in order to achieve their conservation and economic goals.”

The three grants included a total amount of $300,000 and were awarded to and for the following purposes.

$75,000 to the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service in Little Rock
This grant will be used to create an Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service Project.  The project is goal towards using researched-based decision support tools in order help forestry sectors manage, plan and protect large landscape forests across the Western Gulf region in the U.S.

$110,000 to the Michigan State University in East Landing
A team of forestry experts at the Michigan State University will create adult online learning materials on various forest sciences including carbon science management in order to inform and improve the knowledge of landowners and range owners.  This will enable these landowners to predict the carbon outcome of economical advancements so they can minimize the effects.

$115,000 to the University of Minnesota in St. Paul
This University will launch a project that focuses on the impact of invasive species on the ecosystem and local forests. With the results of this research projects, landowners and resource professionals will be able to make sustainable eco decisions with regards to these invasive species.

Nature’s Packaging supports sustainably managed forests as the means to support the North American wood packaging industry.  The USDA also launched previous projects like Ask for Wood where more people were taught about their role in forests and people were taught to create a better environment through wood recycling projects and the benefits of using renewable resources were also taught to family forest owners. Stronger efforts toward public education and government sponsored assistance could improve overall forest health and sustainability.




USDA Helps Veterans Find Forestry Jobs

USDA Helps Veterans Find Forestry Jobs

Veterans sometimes face impeccable difficulties in the job sector since many organizations and businesses view them as high risk employees.  Yet lately, veterans as a workforce have been gaining positive attention and are even sought after in government sectors because of their work ethics, skills, and discipline.  The USDA is one of the government sectors that puts a lot of emphasis on finding job placements for veterans and it is currently estimated that they make up for about 12 percent of the Forest Service workforce.

Soldiers prepare to mobilize as Task Force 340th to serve as hand crews putting out wildfires around the state. (U.S. Army National Guard photo/Sgt. Ian M. Kummer/Released)

Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program

This employment method consists of a two-part program that veterans can join to improve their chances of getting job opportunities in the Forest Service.

  • The first part of the program involves completing 500 hours of work experience during which veterans get the opportunity to work on fuel reduction and wildfire projects. They also learn various other skills like crew organization, chainsaw management, and wildland firefighting safety.
  • Once the 500-hour program is completed, veterans will become eligible for the Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program, an accredited educational program for fire and aviation management, which could lead to lucrative careers within the Department of Agriculture.

Why the Forest Service workforce is perfect for veterans

Forest Service work is often considered a dirty job, however, it is purpose driven.  Many of the jobs are for trail maintenance and improvements, watershed protections, biomass removal to prevent wildfires, and infrastructure improvements. Forest work has a lot to do with safety and security and veterans are sought after in this particular sector due to their extensive experience in survival training, combat training, ethics, discipline, and security.  In effect, it appears that military training makes them ideal candidates to serve and protect national parks and forests.

Who funds it?

The Forest Service has formed a partnership with the California Conservation Corps.  As of June 2017, they have raised $20 million dollars which would make available 4,000 jobs to veterans and young people. Their goal, however, is to invest $40 million by the end of the year to create 11,000 jobs total. They view the Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program as a win-win because both veterans and natural forests benefit from these programs.  Veterans have access to good career opportunities with benefits.  The Forest Service benefits because they have access to a workforce with training and experience that could be used to enhance the safety and preservation of national parks and forests.

The North American forest industry works arduously to protect our forests and ensure that each year, more trees are planted than are harvested. Maintaining the safety of national parks and protecting watersheds are key to preserving national parks and trails. Nature’s Packaging is committed to North American forest sustainability so that forests continue to be safely explored and enjoyed.



Wood Pallets are USDA Certified Biobased Products

Wood Pallets are USDA Certified Biobased Products

Photograph by Wikimedia; distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

If you live in North America and regularly buy fresh produce at a grocery store, you’ve probably seen organic produce displayed for sale. In the United States, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the certification program to show that certified agents are protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity, and using only approved substances.  Seeing the “certified organic” label on food purchases gives consumers confidence that those products achieved those goals. How can one be certain that other widely used products, like detergents, oils, carpets, fertilizers, building materials, and shipping materials are produced in the same spirit?

In the United States, the answer to that question is the USDA BioPreferred® Program. This program was created in the 2002 Farm Bill legislation and was expanded in the 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills. The program is intended to increase the use of renewable agricultural materials to reduce dependence on petroleum based products. Products identified by the BioPreferred Program are known as “biobased” products.

The United States government recognizes the many benefits of biobased products. They tend to perform as well as or better than their petroleum based counterparts and are competitively priced. According to An Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry, biobased products displace about 300 million gallons of petroleum each year in the United States. This is equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road!

According to Kate Lewis, the program analyst in charge of the USDA BioPreferred Program, as of 2016 the biobased economy contributes $393 billion to the U.S. economy each year and supports 4.2 million jobs (source). In other words, for every 1 biobased products job, 1.76 additional jobs are supported in the United States. To date, nearly 3,000 products have been certified under this program.

US Federal law directs that the Federal government must show purchasing preference for biobased products in order to increase the government’s investments in renewable resources. To date, there are 97 categories of products that have mandatory federal purchasing requirements. Participating in the BioPreferred Program is voluntary but use of the label is limited to biobased products certified by the USDA.

Through the work of the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association, wood pallets designed with the Pallet Design System software are now certified under the BioPreferred program. For a quick explanation of wood pallet sustainability in North America, watch our 2-minute video in the link listed below.



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