Across the back fence

I guess is should come as no shock that USDA is cutting expenses–and closing offices– in an attempt to make up some $150 million of their total $145 billion Budget.  Three of those offices to be closed will be in Oregon.

Many employees have been furloughed or retired early in an attempt to close the gap between what they receive and what their expenditures are expected to be.

The office closures in Oregon are expected to be in the northern part of the state.  People expecting service will have to drive further to be able to talk with someone.

A report last week suggests that cattle grazing on some lands where wildlife graze might be beneficial to both the cattle and the wildlife.  In an attempt to improve habitat for the White-tailed Deer near Roseburg, BLM personnel are testing to see if grazing cattle will knock down the taller grasses to allow some species access to the shorter and greener grasses underneath.  The taller grasses resulted from a no grazing policy on certain lands between Roseburg and Glide.  The theory is that deer need the higher protein and nutrition levels found in the newer growth.

A new research study has found that age-related blindness may be slowed or prevented from consumption of grapes.  The study suggests that age-related vision loss is a result of cumulative, oxidative damage over time and that a lifelong diet  enriched by the natural antioxidants, such as those found in grapes appears to be directly beneficial for retinal health and function.  As usual, the study would not say that consumption of grapes will prevent blindness.  Raisins, grape juice and red wine weren’t part of the study, but they too, have been shown to have health benefits.

One would have to assume from the study that a glass of your favorite beverage might be a good thing.  Too much of a good thing, though might have a slight blurring effect on one’s vision, regardless of age.

The Northwest Agricultural show convenes this week at the Portland Expo Center, beginning on January 24 and running through the 26th.  The Expo Center is located on N. Marine Drive in Portland.  Admission is$8 for adults and $6 for seniors.

Presentations on pesticides, orchard fruit, blueberries, water, safety, cranberries, nuts, nursery stock, weather, and agri-finance will be subjects of discussions.

Of course, the main event will be the ag machinery displays presented by dozens of manufacturers and dealers.  It will be the largest event of it’s kind in Oregon and event goers are sure to pick up information to improve their operations.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack has announced $308 million in emergency assistance to 33 states and Puerto Rico to help recovery efforts from an unusually intense year for natural disasters across the United States.

It came as no surprise that Midwest states will receive the most funds, following severe flooding from high snow pack and continued rains throughout the summer.  The emergency funds are part of USDA’s annual budget and money allocated from them will be used to repair and stabilize agriculture and public safety infrastructure.  Federal money covers 75 percent of the cost of such repairs and is based on local agencies applications and ability to pay the balance.

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