Health and Farm News Briefs

Staff Reports

CORE and Izzie’s Gifts of Hope Foundation Award Scholarships to Students Affected by Organ Donation

2017 Isabelle Christenson Memorial Scholarship recipients recognized for organ donation awareness, community involvement and scholastic achievement

PITTSBURGH, August 31, 2017 – The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) and Izzie’s Gifts of Hope Foundation are pleased to announce the 2017 Isabelle Christenson Memorial Scholarship winners. The scholarship recognizes individuals who have been directly affected by organ, tissue or cornea donation and honors each individual’s contributions to organ donation awareness and service in their communities. Awardees will receive a scholarship of either $1,000 or $1,500.

“As either organ transplant recipients themselves or as the loved one of someone who is waiting for a life-saving transplant, the lives of these young people have been shaped and made possible by organ donation,” said Susan Stuart, president and CEO, CORE. “They have channeled that personal connection into action — working to raise awareness throughout their communities by encouraging others to register as organ, tissue and cornea donors.”

The 2017 recipients are:

Victoria Birch of Butler, Pennsylvania, was born with biliary atresia, an infant liver disease, and received a transplant at 5 months old. Today, she is a freshman at Butler County Community College with a focus on pre-med studies. She has been an active CORE volunteer since 2015, even traveling to Harrisburg to tell her story to Pennsylvania state lawmakers. Ms. Birch’s transplant has inspired her to become a pediatric anesthesiologist and work at a children’s hospital.

Elizabeth Burger of Dublin, Ohio, was born with biliary atresia and received a liver transplant soon after birth from a living donor who was a family friend. Ms. Burger is an active volunteer in her community, making Linus Project blankets, serving monthly meals to the homeless and sorting and packing food at the Dublin Food Pantry and Mid-Ohio Food Bank. She is a freshman at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, working toward earning a Bachelor of Science in nursing. As a nurse practitioner, she wants to use her knowledge and experiences to give comfort and healing to others as so many have for her.

Scott Johnston of Wexford, Pennsylvania, was born with a heart condition and received a heart transplant at 13 days old. He loves to ski and is an avid biker and motocross racer. Mr. Johnston is a member of Team Alleghenies Transplant and has attended previous Transplant Games of America. As a freshman at the University of Utah, he will major in accounting with the goal of becoming a CPA. He has come to understand better the immense loving choice made by his donor family and pledges to live life to the absolute fullest and with gratitude for its joys and challenges.

Cassidy Ryanna Parkin of Spencer, West Virginia, received a heart transplant at 18 months old. She is an active CORE volunteer, presenting at local high schools, sharing her story with local media and attending flag raising events. Ms. Parkin is also a two-time participant in the Transplant Games of America. She is a freshman at Marshall University where she plans to pursue a Bachelor of Science in nursing. As an organ recipient and future nurse, she wakes each morning with the hopes of positively influencing someone’s life and aims to become a nurse who brightens her patients’ day.

Melissa Tomajko of New Stanton, Pennsylvania, has been personally affected by the need for organ donation through her mom, who is on the kidney transplant waiting list. Ms. Tomajko is interested in being tested to be a living kidney donor for her mom. She has raised money for the Western Pennsylvania Kidney Kamp through a school fundraiser, and developed a school-wide “Diabetes Day” to educate her peers and teachers. She is a freshman at Westmoreland County Community College and pursuing an associate degree in nursing with a goal of earning a Bachelor of Science in nursing. As a nurse, Ms. Tomajko wants to take care of people and give back to patients because so many nurses have taken care of her mom and made them feel comfortable in very hard times.

Applicants for The Isabelle Christenson Memorial Scholarship included transplant recipients, living donors, waiting list candidates and donor family members. All applicants were required to submit essays about organ donation’s influence in their lives, two letters of recommendation, and an acceptance letter from a college, university, trade or technical school. Scholarship recipients are selected by CORE, which supports Izzie’s Gifts of Hope Foundation, an organization established to enrich the lives of children and families with chronic illnesses by providing fun-filled activities and outings that create normalcy and laughter during stressful times. For more information, visit

About CORE

The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) is one of 58 federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in the United States. CORE works closely with donor families and designated healthcare professionals to coordinate the surgical recovery of organs, tissue and corneas for transplantation. CORE also facilitates the computerized matching of donated organs and placement of corneas. With headquarters in Pittsburgh and an office in Charleston, West Virginia, CORE oversees a region that encompasses 163 hospitals and almost six million people throughout western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Chemung County, New York. For more information, visit or call 1-800-DONORS-7.

Will Plant-Based Alternatives Change

The Beauty Industry For Good?

By Sheri Warren Sankner


You see the word “natural” in personal care/beauty advertising and on product packaging everyday. What does it mean? Merriam Webster defines “natural” as something “existing in or produced by nature: not artificial.” But when it comes to describing today’s skincare products, it’s a misnomer, a designation that is seriously under-regulated by the government, overused and misused by cosmetic companies, and just downright confusing to consumers looking for safer products.

Skin is the body’s largest organ and protective barrier to outside toxins. While the FDA and the USDA monitor what we put into our bodies, government agencies are far less vigilant in overseeing what we put on our bodies.

The global organic personal care market is expected to reach over $25.11 billion by 2025, according to a report by Grand View Research, Inc. In addition, the Statistic Portal website claims the global market value for natural cosmetics increased from almost $7 billion in 2007 to roughly $15 billion expected in 2017. This data proves the growing importance of the natural and organic cosmetics market.

Claims a recent report on the, the stats-packed website for over a million statistics and facts, “Cosmetics are considered natural with respect to two important dimensions: ingredients and processing. However, the absence of specific regulation on the topic and the disparity between private standards and administrative interpretations on natural cosmetics generates insecurity in the cosmetic industry.”

Pioneer natural beauty companies like Burt’s Bees, Aveda, Origins and The Body Shop have been around for decades. There are legitimate newcomers, too, like Skin & Bones, Juice Beauty, Beautycounter, 100% Pure, and True Botanicals. There are also many companies that “claim” to make natural cosmetics and skincare. It’s become a flashy way to attract health/wellness-oriented customers who are interested in reducing toxic ingredients in their personal products.

“Some companies, in an attempt to have broader appeal to the growing number of consumers who are concerned about chemical-laden products, will opportunistically use the word ‘natural’ on their labeling. Products advertised as natural — due to a lack of government regulation — can mean that all or maybe even just one or two ingredients are actually of natural origin. Many ‘natural’ products can also contain synthetic ingredients that are potentially harmful,” writes Dr. Hal Simeroth, founder of Stemology, the first skincare brand to combine human and plant stem cell technologies.

You can only be assured that a product is natural if it’s labeled “organic.” Organic products are highly regulated under the USDA National Organic Program. When certified organic, a product guarantees that 95% of ingredients have been organically produced without the use of chemicals, pesticides or hormones.

Former marketing executive Hillary Peterson created True Botanicals, a collection of concentrated, bioactive formulations for hair and skin, after cancer prompted her to eliminate harmful products from her routine. Launched in 2014, her California-based company rigorously evaluates each ingredient for safety before including it in the line.

Ms. Peterson exposed the myths and marketing hype of natural skincare in 2015 for The Huffington Post. “Skincare brands and their marketing teams correctly assume that if consumers think natural is good, then all-natural and 100% natural must be even better. So they over promise … and under deliver. Here’s the scientific truth: water-based skincare products like cleansers, mists, serums, and shampoos are almost never 100% natural because they need preservatives … to last more than a few days on the shelf. Oil-based products can use natural preservatives like Vitamin E, but most are not 100% natural,” writes Ms. Peterson.

“Few, if any, 100% natural skincare lines exist,” writes Ms. Peterson. She believes the concern should be with the safety of ingredients you’re putting on your skin. “Every brand has a responsibility to tell their consumers the truth about the safety of the ingredients they’re using. If they don’t, then don’t use them. And remember, natural is not a synonym for safe. One of the most respected and clinically tested anti-aging ingredients, l-ascorbic acid, while perfectly safe, is most definitely synthetic.”

Since 2014, the European Union has banned more than a thousand chemicals from being used in consumer products, including cosmetics and food. Many of these chemicals are still being used in the manufacturing of products sold here in the United States.

After ingesting all these stats and statements — and if they haven’t scared you off — how do you find beauty products that that are safer and made of more naturally-oriented ingredients? The answer is simple. Before you buy, read the labels and look for products with fewer chemicals and are paraben-free, sulfate-free, and phthalate-free. And if you can’t pronounce the stuff, it’s possible you shouldn’t be using it on your face and body.

Dairy Producers Can Enroll for 2018 Coverage Secretary Allows Producers to Opt Out

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2017 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced that starting Sept. 1, 2017, dairy producers can enroll for 2018 coverage in the Margin Protection Program (MPP-Dairy). Secretary Sonny Perdue has utilized additional flexibility this year by providing dairy producers the option of opting out of the program for 2018.

“Secretary Perdue is using his authority to allow producers to withdraw from the MPP Dairy Program and not pay the annual administrative fee for 2018,” said Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Rob Johansson. “The decision is in response to requests by the dairy industry and a number of MPP-Dairy program participants.”

To opt out, a producer should not sign up during the annual registration period. By opting out, a producer would not receive any MPP-Dairy benefits if payments are triggered for 2018. Full details will be included in a subsequent Federal Register Notice. The decision would be for 2018 only and is not retroactive.

The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating dairy producers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the producer.

MPP-Dairy gives participating dairy producers the flexibility to select coverage levels best suited for their operation. Enrollment ends on Dec. 15, 2017, for coverage in calendar year 2018. Participating farmers will remain in the program through Dec. 31, 2018, and pay a minimum $100 administrative fee for 2018 coverage. Producers have the option of selecting a different coverage level from the previous coverage year during open enrollment.

Dairy operations enrolling in the program must meet conservation compliance provisions and cannot participate in the Livestock Gross Margin Dairy Insurance Program. Producers can mail the appropriate form to the producer’s administrative county FSA office, along with applicable fees, without necessitating a trip to the local FSA office. If electing higher coverage for 2018, dairy producers can either pay the premium in full at the time of enrollment or pay 100 percent of the premium by Sept. 1, 2018. Premium fees may be paid directly to FSA or producers can work with their milk handlers to remit premiums on their behalf.

USDA has a web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage under the MPP-Dairy that will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. The online resource, available at, allows dairy farmers to quickly and easily combine unique operation data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections. Producers can also review historical data or estimate future coverage based on data projections. The secure site can be accessed via computer, Smartphone, tablet or any other platform, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For more information, visit FSA online at or stop by a local FSA office to learn more about the MPP-Dairy.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).

USDA Providing Nutrition Help to States Hit by Hurricane, Flooding

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2017 – USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is actively working with officials in Texas and Louisiana to ensure that people impacted by Hurricane Harvey have access to food now and after emergency operations are completed.

“In this time of crisis, with many grocery stores closed and other sources of food unavailable, USDA is committed to ensuring that our fellow Americans get the vital nutrition they need and is streamlining procedures to make that happen,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “President Trump made it clear to his cabinet that helping people is the first priority, and that process and paperwork can wait until later. USDA is already doing the work to help people in need today.”

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is working with officials in the affected region to help feed displaced and affected residents. The agency has granted several waivers in Texas allowing schools in the National School Lunch Program to provide free meals. It has also provided more flexibility to schools in what they can feed kids, given the challenges of preparing specific foods during this period.

“FNS works every day to ensure Americans have access to food, but it is during events like this that we have to be nimble,” said FNS Administrator Brandon Lipps. “Our job is to make it as easy as possible for our programs to be administered in a way that ensures no one affected by this disaster goes hungry.”

Steps already taken by USDA in Texas include:

Approving a request by Texas officials to waive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) regulations to allow program participants to buy hot foods and hot ready-to-eat foods with their benefits. FNS has notified authorized SNAP retailers in Texas of this waiver, which will be in effect through September 30.

Supporting the state in its plans to shift the full SNAP issuance schedule for September to the first of the month so that families have access to their monthly benefits sooner during this time of immediate crisis.

Allowing all schools in declared disaster counties to waive the National School Lunch Program meal pattern and meal service time requirements. This will allow schools to serve meals that do not meet the menu planning or meal pattern requirements for schools and child care institutions and facilities in the affected areas through September 30.

Allowing all disaster affected schools to provide meals to all students at no charge and be reimbursed at the free reimbursement rate through September 30.

Providing the state the flexibility needed to allow seniors who participate in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program in the service areas impacted by the hurricane to receive two food packages in September to make up for the loss of their August food benefit.

Approving Texas to designate schools not directly impacted by the Hurricane to serve as disaster organizations and shelters so that USDA foods can be used for congregate feeding, providing critical food assistance to those in need. USDA Foods include a variety of canned, fresh, frozen and dry products which include fruits, vegetables, meats, and whole grains.

Details of waivers can be found here. FNS is concurrently providing technical assistance to Louisiana and offering support as needed.

The FNS response efforts go beyond these programs. The FNS WIC program has policies in place to allow the state flexibility in program design and administration to support continuation of benefits to participants during times of natural disasters. With a number of WIC clinics damaged or closed during the hurricane, FNS held a conference call with Texas WIC State agency to provide this information and offer any other technical assistance needed to ensure WIC participants received help in obtaining food.

Although USDA food has not been requested as yet, FNS has coordinated with the Texas State Department of Agriculture to provide food deliveries to voluntary organizations as needed. FNS has determined the available USDA food supplies in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas in anticipation of requests by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide food deliveries.

FNS is also ready to support the state for other SNAP waivers that may be needed to support recipients who have lost food due to the disaster and to simplify the application process for affected households, as well as waivers covering Child and Adult Care Food Program sites and schools used as shelters.

In addition, FNS will provide infant formula and food to infants and children housed in disaster congregate shelters if requested. FNS can typically fulfill a request for these items 24-48 hours after receiving a request from the state or the FEMA.

In the coming weeks, at the state‘s request, FNS also stands at the ready to offer continuing food assistance through the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) – after commercial channels of food distribution have been restored and families are able to prepare food at home, Perdue emphasized.

To simplify program administration in disaster conditions, the D-SNAP application and eligibility process is shortened and streamlined. In times when D-SNAP becomes necessary, low-income households not normally eligible under regular program rules may qualify for D-SNAP if they meet the disaster income limits, which are slightly higher, and have qualifying disaster-related expenses such as loss of income, damage to property, and relocation expenses. Additionally, ongoing SNAP clients may also receive disaster assistance in the form of a supplement, when their benefits are less than the monthly maximum, to help replace food destroyed in the disaster.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which together comprise America’s nutrition safety net. For more information on FNS assistance during times of disaster, visit

Secretary Perdue Announces USDA Improvements for Customer Service & Efficiency

(Washington, D.C., September 7, 2017) – Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the realignment of a number of offices within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in order to improve customer service and maximize efficiency. The actions involve innovation, consolidation, and the rearrangement of certain offices into more logical organizational reporting structures. The changes build on the reorganization Perdue announced in May. As with the previous realignment, today’s announced restructuring comes with the intention of handling any staffing changes through attrition or reassignment.

“On my first day as secretary, I told our employees that I wanted USDA to be the most effective, most efficient, and best managed department in the federal government. These changes will move us further toward that goal,” Perdue said. “We are already providing our customers with great service, and our career professionals are among the best in the federal government, but we can be even better. This realignment represents further progress on the improvements to USDA we made earlier this year, and will help us better meet the needs of farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers, while providing increased accountability to American taxpayers.”

The realignments include:

Advancing Trade

In keeping with Congress’ directive in the 2014 Farm Bill and to advance agricultural trade, the Department in May created an Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs (TFAA). The importance of this addition is underscored by recent U.S. advances in international trade. USDA anticipates that U.S. farm exports will total $139.8 billion this fiscal year, the third-highest tally in history. We have also seen the return of U.S. beef to China after a 13-year hiatus, while significantly, an agreement was reached to allow the U.S. to export rice to that market for the first time ever. In addition, South Korea has lifted its ban on imports of U.S. poultry and poultry products, including fresh eggs, and an agreement was reached with Colombia to allow for expanded market access for U.S. exports of paddy rice. Just this week, Vietnam announced that it will resume importing American distiller’s dried grains (DDGS).

While reviewing options for improving coordination on trade and international activities, USDA determined that the Codex Alimentarius program (U.S. Codex Office), currently housed in the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), will be moved to the newly created TFAA mission area. The U.S. Codex Office is an interagency partnership which engages stakeholders in the development of international governmental and non-governmental food standards. The focus of the Codex Office aligns better with the mission of TFAA.

Driving Rural Development

The USDA reorganization announced in May created a new position of Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development (RD) and situated it to report directly to the secretary. Since then, RD has been leading efforts to promote economic development and revitalization, job growth, infrastructure, innovation, and quality of life issues for rural America.

RD has spearheaded efforts to improve the rural economy through the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. There have been meetings in which participants held a wide-ranging dialogue, discussing – among other issues – access to broadband, community infrastructure, community mental and physical health, workforce training and veterans’ employment, agricultural research, regulatory reform, improved access to capital, and increased local control of decision-making. Four working groups have been established to gather recommendations on issues regarding the quality of life in rural America; the rural workforce; innovation, technology, and data; and economic development. These working groups have met at least 10 times. In addition, Secretary Perdue has hosted five Task Force meetings – either with Cabinet members or in listening sessions with the people of American agriculture during his “Back to Our Roots” RV Tours. By doing this he has heard the opinions of many hundreds of citizens. A report with concrete actions on statutes to be enacted or repealed; regulations to be promulgated, amended, or eliminated; and programs and policies to be implemented, streamlined, or discarded will be provided to President Trump in late October.

In order to develop fresh, creative solutions to reinvigorate rural America, the new structures announced today establish an Innovation Center within RD. The RD Innovation Center will be tasked with evaluating the impacts of the business, housing, and utilities programs provided by the Department. Through such evaluation, USDA will be better informed as to where additional investments will be most impactful when it comes to RD program delivery. RD will be continuously identifying best practices in economic development, measuring performance of programs, and promoting collaboration across agencies.

Concentrating Industry Engagement

The realignment announced in May reconstituted and renamed a mission area headed by the Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC). Under the newly-organized FPAC mission area, the Farm Service Agency (FSA), the Risk Management Agency, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service were realigned to report to the renamed Under Secretary. The improvements announced today make changes to some programs to fit them into more logical places to help better coordinate service to USDA customers.

Rather than have commodity procurement in multiple agencies of the USDA, the International Food Commodity Procurement program currently in the Farm Service Agency (FSA) will merge into the domestic Commodity Food Procurement program in the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). This action will consolidate commodity procurement activities across the USDA and allow for greater efficiencies in the acquisition of commodities.

Also, instead of having commodity grading and inspection in multiple USDA agencies, the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) will be merged into AMS. Currently, GIPSA and AMS both carry out grading activities and work to ensure fair trade practices. Specific to fair trade practice work, the new structure will contain a program area composed of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act Program and the Packers and Stockyards Program, as well as some other regulatory activities AMS is currently directed to carry out. In addition, this new program area will have the responsibility to carry out Warehouse Act functions currently being provided by FSA. The grain inspection activities will become a separate program area in AMS. These improvements will provide a unified USDA presence focused not on programs, but on customers and the services they are provided.

In addition, FPAC is currently undertaking a customer engagement review to better understand what is working and what needs improvement so that USDA can best support farmers and producers today and in the future.

Reducing Redundancies

While creating the Farm Production and Conservation mission area, it became apparent that across USDA there are redundancies and inefficiencies in the mission support activities. Presently some agencies maintain redundant administrative support functions, including human resources, information technology (IT), finance, procurement, and property management. For example, there are 22 employees in the department that are identified as Chief Information Officers (CIOs). Having such a large number of CIOs creates redundancies throughout the Department when it comes to leadership on IT activities and services and results in unnecessary layering of leadership and direction. Therefore, mission support activities will be merged at the mission area level across USDA. Through these mergers, the mission areas will not only increase operational efficiencies, but also maximize collaboration between agencies that serve similar customers. This has happened in many of the support activities in mission areas already and is working well.

Focusing Nutrition Efforts

In order to better serve the nutritional needs of USDA customers, the new blueprint calls for merging the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) into the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). This makes sense because the two are closely intertwined and serve a similar mission. CNPP works to improve the health and well-being of Americans by developing and promoting dietary guidance that links scientific research to the nutrition needs of consumers. FNS seeks to end hunger and obesity through the administration of 15 Federal nutrition assistance programs, including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Instead of having a politically-appointed administrator of CNPP, the agency will be headed by a career associate administrator. Incorporating CNPP into FNS will improve administrative efficiencies and allow closer integration of the work of these two agencies.

Engaging Customers

In an effort to create a consistent customer-focused outreach effort, the USDA will create an Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement by grouping the following offices together: the Office of Advocacy and Outreach; the Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships staff; the Office of Tribal Relations; and the Military Veterans Liaison. Each office will retain its own character and identity, and continue to communicate with its core constituency, but this realignment will ensure a more coordinated and consistent approach. This will result in improved service and enhanced engagement with USDA’s customers.

Realigning Pest Management

The new alignment moves the Office of Pest Management Policy (OPMP) from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to the Office of the Chief Economist. OPMP coordinates the USDA role in the pesticide regulatory process and related interagency affairs. Its focus does not coincide with the mission of ARS and can be better situated in the Office of the Chief Economist.

Secretary Perdue Announces USDA Improvements for Customer Service & Efficiency

(Washington, D.C., September 8, 2017) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today called on Congress to address the way the U.S. Forest Service is funded so that the agency is not routinely borrowing money from prevention programs to combat ongoing wildfires. Perdue argued that taking funds from prevention efforts only leaves behind more fuel in the forests for future fires to burn, exacerbating the situation. Perdue made his remarks during a ceremonial swearing in of new Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke at the Department of Agriculture.

Currently, the fire suppression portion of the Forest Service budget is funded at a rolling ten-year average of appropriations, while the overall Forest Service budget has remained relatively flat. Because the fire seasons are longer and conditions are worse, the ten-year rolling fire suppression budget average keeps rising, chewing up a greater percentage of the total Forest Service budget each year. The agency has had to borrow from prevention programs to cover fire suppression costs. Perdue said he would prefer that Congress treat major fires the same as other disasters and be covered by emergency funds so that prevention programs are not raided.

Perdue’s verbatim comments are as follows:

“I’ve had serious concerns about an issue. And I want to be very clear about it. You can have the right leadership. You can have the right people. I believe we have the right leadership. I believe we have the right people. I believe that we have the right processes and the right procedures of attacking and fighting fires. But if you don’t have the resources and the means of dependable funding, that’s an issue.

“Every year, when we have to take, in the Forest Service, and hoard our appropriated dollars in order to have money to fight the fires, where we know they are going to be insufficient, that’s wrong. We need with all of our heart and strength and mind, Tony, to appeal to the appropriators in Congress, and the law writers, to fix the fire borrowing problem once and for all.


“As good as you are, and as well as you know the Forest Service, there’s no way you can manage the Forest Service, not knowing what you’re going to have to spend. That is not the way appropriations should work. I’ve communicated that to OMB, I’m communicating that to members of Congress, I’ve communicated that to the president. And by golly, we hope we’re going to get something done about it this year. I think the momentum is there, along with other disasters.

“I met yesterday with [Office of Management and Budget] Director Mulvaney. We described the need and the issue of a permanent fix and I think we’re along our way to get there. Tony’s going to have to meet with members of Congress and to persuade them that’s the ultimate solution so we can manage ahead of time.

“I’ve told people the analogy – it’s like eating your seed corn. You know, when you have to spend so much fighting fires, you can’t spend the money that’s appropriated to prevent forest fires. You know, Smokey wants us to prevent forest fires, don’t you, Smokey?

“You know the facts. Our budget has moved from 15 percent of fire suppression to over half – 55 percent-plus. It may be more than that this year, in having to fight fires. And there’s no way we can do the kind of forest management and the prescribed burning and harvesting and insect control, all those kinds of things that diminish fires.

“Fires will always be with us. But when we leave a fuel load out there because we have not been able to get to it because of a lack of funding, or dependable funding, we’re asking for trouble. We’re asking for disasters, year in and year out. And that’s what we hope to get fixed.

“I want you all to know that I’m fighting hard for that. Tony Tooke’s going to fight hard for that. This whole department at USDA is going to fight hard to communicate to Congress and the administration that we need a permanent fire funding and stop this fire borrowing once and for all. So, thank you all for understanding that and understanding where we need to devote our resources.”

Staff Reports