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Partnership is Key at Idaho Jobs Forum

Job Forum Idaho“They want our Idaho onions” commented panelist Margie Watson, referencing exporting onions to Dubai for the blooming colossal onion for a steakhouse in Dubai, “but the paperwork is staggering” further discussing the challenges if the load of produce has to stop anywhere before it gets to its destination.  This discussion around expanding Idaho exports was just one of several points brought up by the over 80 participates on ways to create jobs during Idaho’s Rural Job and Economic Growth Forum on January 14th at the College of Western Idaho campus in Nampa, Idaho.

U.S. Representative Walt Minnick helped kick off the forum by announcing funding for USDA Forest service, creating jobs while supporting forest health.  Idaho Lieutenant Governor, Brad Little, stressed the banks inability to take risk due to capital concerns, emphasizing the importance of USDA loan guarantees to the economic recovery.

Gallatin Public Affairs, President and Partner, Marc Johnson, summarized the many key steps to jobs and business creation with a few key points:

  1. Partnerships and collaboration, however it happens, is the name of the game.
  2. Businesses have to fully utilize federal and state programs available, including but not limited to, USDA Rural Development.
  3. Importance of job training and education in rural areas while still being able to hold down a good job.
  4. Ways to incentivize the green jobs and utilization of natural resources in doing so. As we reinvent the way we do energy, rural areas must be prepared so they participate in those jobs.

There were several common threads throughout the discussion – innovation, education, financing, and partnering. However, it is partnering that seemed to be the most important because most, if not all, the ideas presented also involved partnering.  “No one can do it by themselves, need everyone pulling in the same direction” commented Marc Johnson, a statement supported by Idaho Rural Development State Director, Wally Hedrick, “Partnering is key to everything and USDA needs to support the National Rural Development Councils, like Idaho’s Rural Partnership, who can bring all the partners together at one table.”

The importance of partnerships is evidenced by this Job and Economic Growth forum.  The forum was hosted by Rural Development, Farm Service Agency, Gallatin Public Affairs in cooperation with Idaho Rural Partnership and College of Western Idaho with participation of a variety of business across several industries, state agencies, economic development personnel, educators, and elected officials.

For those unable to attend, but interested in making job creation and economic development suggestions, ideas and suggestions can be e-mailed to with Idaho Jobs and Economic Growth Forum” in the subject line.  A video of the discussion will be posted at

Kerrie T. Hurd
Public Information Coordinator,
Idaho Rural Development

To learn more, go to the Rural Development and FSA Job Roundtables Schedule, and the News Release, “USDA to Host Roundtables on Jobs, Economic Growth

USDA Rural Development and Farm Service Agency Hold Arkansas Jobs Forums

Rural Development and Farm Service Agency staff in Arkansas joined forces to conduct two Jobs Forums across the State.  These Forums were a follow-up to a national Jobs Forum held in December by President Obama.

The first Forum was held Wednesday, January 13, 2009, in the eastern Delta town of Forrest City, Arkansas.  The second Forum was held today in the western part of the state in Russellville.  More than 70 people attended the two days of meetings.

Panel members and the audience in both Forum’s consisted of representatives from the fields of banking, labor, manufacturing, economic development authorities, educational institutions, Mayors, County Judges, State Senators and State Representatives, the Office of Congressman Marion Berry, the Office of Congressman John Bozeman, the Office of Senator Blanche Lincoln, and the Office of Senator Mark Pryor.

Lawrence McCullough, Rural Development State Director, and Linda Newkirk, Farm Service Agency State Director, welcomed the diverse group to the Forums and urged everyone to participate.    The Forums were both opened with U. S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan’s comments regarding the Community Forum of jobs and economic growth.

The entire forum was captured on audio, video and pictures.    We collected many recommendations and suggestions from a variety of partners and stakeholders during the forum.  A report of all the information gathered will be submitted to USDA Secretary Vilsack and President Obama.

Lawrence McCullough, Rural Development State Director, making opening remarks at an Arkansas Jobs Forum.

Lawrence McCullough, Rural Development State Director, making opening remarks at an Arkansas Jobs Forum.

Submitted by Karen Petrus
Administrative Programs Director
Arkansas State Office

Technology, “Green Jobs” Spotlighted at USDA Jobs Roundtable in Tennessee

With unemployment rates above ten percent across the region, families and businesses in West Tennessee are especially hard hit by the economic downturn. Last Thursday, business and other community leaders met federal, state and local economic development officials at the University of Tennessee Extension Experiment Station in Jackson to discuss what can be done to speed recovery and create long-term economic stability across the state. Read more »

USDA Teams Up with the NFL and National Dairy Council to Kick Off ‘Fuel Up to Play 60′

The USDA, the National Football League and the National Dairy Council (NDC) teamed up today for a event in New York City to promote their joint Fuel Up to Play 60 child nutrition campaign.

Fuel up to play 60 logo

Since October, the NFL and NDC have made a major effort to get children to be more active in their daily lives, specifically promoting a 60 minute a day exercise program every child in America. Play 60 is already active in more than 58,000 public schools, 60% of the nation’s 96,000 public schools. The program empowers children in grades 4-10 to “fuel-up” with nutrition-rich foods such low-fat dairy products, fruits, and vegetables so they have energy necessary to play for 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

Today’s event was held at Central Park East Middle School in Manhattan to formalize the partnership between the USDA, NFL, and the NDC. Secretary Vilsack, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Dairy Management, Inc. CEO Thomas Gallagher, former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, and many others were in attendance.

Jacksonville Jaguars All-Pro Maurice Jones-Drew headlined the event, along with other NFL players including the New York Giants tight end Kevin Boss, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall and Chicago Bears guard Roberto Garza. The event allowed students and school officials to practice exercise and identify healthy eating habits and nutritious food choices with visiting officials and NFL players.

Childhood obesity is one of the greatest public health crises facing the United States and the USDA is making every effort to make sure that today’s children are not the first American generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Programs like Fuel Up to Play 60 can be extremely beneficial in children’s lives and directly impact their future. This program empowers youth in this country to have a voice in changing their eating and exercise habits. Efforts like this show how the government and private sector can work together successfully to solve real problems

Interior Alaska Residents Turn Out for USDA Jobs Forum

The first of four jobs forums in Alaska, sponsored by the USDA Farm Service Agency and Rural Development attracted an audience of about 80 on Thursday.  Participants turned out in Fairbanks to testify about job creation, braving temperatures of -30.

Joining Rural Development State Director Jim Nordlund and Farm Service Agency Executive Director Danny Consenstein at the Fairbanks forum were U.S. Senator Mark Begich; Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins; Fairbanks Economic Development Director Jim Dobson; Jerry Isaac, President of the Tanana Chiefs Conference and University of Alaska Fairbanks Chancellor Brian Rodgers.

Nordlund and Consenstein told the group that the Alaska meetings, and those being held across the Nation, are a direct follow up to a jobs summit held by President Obama in December, and that a report of the Alaska meetings, and the other meetings, will be provided to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for presentation to the President in February.  The jobs forum included sessions designed to explore pillars of job creation, as outlined by the Secretary.

“We had more than 80 people show up on a frigid (-30) Thursday afternoon” said Nordlund.  “The jobs ideas were constructive, genuine and heartfelt. I’m sure the President and the Congress will welcome these proposals to foster our economic recovery.”  Consenstein said:  “Alaska’s rural areas have unique challenges.  Alaskans from the Interior had great ideas about how broad band, renewable energy and food systems strategies can create much-needed jobs in the region.”

At the start of the forum, it was announced that USDA has obligated $49 million in rural water grant funds to improve sanitation in rural communities and provide jobs to rural residents.  Additional forums will be held in Kotzebue, Juneau and Anchorage.

Alaska Rural Development State Director Jim Nordlund (at podium) speaks during a USDA-Sponsored Jobs Forum in Fairbanks

Alaska Rural Development State Director Jim Nordlund (at podium) speaks during a USDA-Sponsored Jobs Forum in Fairbanks

To learn more, go to the Rural Development and FSA Job Roundtables Schedule, and the News Release, “USDA to Host Roundtables on Jobs, Economic Growth

By Wayne Maloney, Office of Communications

USDA to Showcase Food Safety Education Campaign at D.C. Health and Fitness Event

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is applying the final touches on the Be Food Safe exhibit (booth #1704) for the NBC4 Health and Fitness Expo at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 16 – 17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The event is free to the public.

FSIS’ exhibit will highlight USDA’s “Be Food Safe” Campaign, built around the four food safety messages: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.  It teaches consumers about the importance of safe food handling, and the prevention of foodborne illness to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy.

Booth visitors will also learn about Ask Karen, the FSIS virtual representative, the Meat and Poultry Hotline, Thermy™, Is It Done Yet?, and Todo Cuenta, an outreach program for Spanish speaking communities.

The exhibit’s hands-on demonstrations will show consumers how to calibrate a food thermometer, the importance of hand washing, and what bacteria look like under the lens of a high-powered microscope.

To learn more about food safety, visit our Website and follow us on Twitter. If you’re in D.C. this weekend, drop by our booth and say Hi!