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The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service acknowledges the hard work from inspectors in the field in Farmerville, Louisiana

Samuel Wall and Russ Mann are Consumer Safety Inspectors (CSI) assigned to the night shift at a poultry plant in Farmerville, LA.  They, and thousands of FSIS inspectors in plants across the country, play a vital role in making sure that the food reaching your dinner table is safe.  In Sam and Russ’ case, the two could be content just doing their work and going home.  But the two see their job as so much more. In addition to the normal jobs they perform, they also have made their mission to train newly hired CSIs assigned to the shift.  Read more »

The Field Guide to the New American Foodshed

The Farm Credit Council, the trade organization for the farmer-owned Farm Credit System, was recently awarded a grant by the Risk Management Agency to produce written and web-based material using case studies to explain how local food systems work in the real world of business and economics, called the “Field Guide to the New American Foodshed.”  With this field guide, beginning farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs will be able to identify different food system business models as they come across them, along with detailed explanations of their business structures and related resources.

Beginning farmers in Kentucky.

Beginning farmers in Kentucky.

Most farm business advisors that are readily available are often very familiar with traditional commodity agriculture.  But many beginning farmers and ranchers (BFRs) are serving markets that are often found outside of national and international commodity markets.  In addition, many BFR operations are often located near metropolitan areas where there are fewer financial service providers familiar with the workings of an agricultural operation. Read more »

Adding Up the Little Things in Paktika, Afghanistan

Forward Operating Base Sharana, Paktika, Afghanistan – Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began building up its corps of civilian agricultural experts from 11 in 2009 to 60 in 2010, USDA’s focus in Afghanistan has shifted from small-scale development to large-scale capacity building. Greater resources has allowed USDA and our U.S. government partners to help build and train a team of Afghan agricultural extension workers that bring better tools and technologies to farmers in rural areas – much like our extension service in the United States. In southeast Afghanistan, in a volatile province called Paktika, six teams of Afghan agricultural trainers and extension workers are leading a variety of low-cost projects that are uniting communities and growing agricultural production and diversity. Read more »

In Illinois, Pulling from the Past to Push the Future

Costumed guides, along with Larry the mule, were part of the tour of the Canal Corridor Association’s mule-pulled canal boat.  Tour participants from right to left are Centrue Bank Vice President Doug Patterson; Samantha Warren, regional director for Rep. Debbie Halvorson; Canal Corridor Association President Ana Koval; Business and Cooperative Programs Administrator Judith Canales, and Illinois State Director Colleen Callahan.

Costumed guides, along with Larry the mule, were part of the tour of the Canal Corridor Association’s mule-pulled canal boat. Tour participants from right to left are Centrue Bank Vice President Doug Patterson; Samantha Warren, regional director for Rep. Debbie Halvorson; Canal Corridor Association President Ana Koval; Business and Cooperative Programs Administrator Judith Canales, and Illinois State Director Colleen Callahan.

The Canal Corridor Association, headquartered in LaSalle, Ill., has recaptured the past to build for the future, and a USDA Rural Development Business & Industry loan guarantee is helping them do it. Read more »

Bringing fresh, local, healthy food to communities

USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon poses with one of the many Maryland farmers (no name available) selling fresh produce at the Crossroads Farmers’ Market in Tacoma Park, Maryland, Wednesday October 13.

USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon poses with one of the many Maryland farmers (no name available) selling fresh produce at the Crossroads Farmers’ Market in Tacoma Park, Maryland, Wednesday October 13.

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time at the Crossroads Farmers Market in Takoma Park, Md.  The market’s motto is, “Bringing fresh, local, healthy food to individuals of all incomes and backgrounds,” something we consistently support at the USDA.  Just last week Crossroads received a $50,724 grant from The Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) to spread this message throughout a network of markets in Maryland, and I enjoyed seeing all the enthusiasm there on a glorious day in October. Read more »

A Few Spaces Still Open for Producers to Register for Free Renewable Energy Event in Knoxville, Tennessee

Space is filling up, but there are still a few openings available for landowners, farmers, producers, ranchers, and foresters who plan to attend the Renewable Energy Biomass Education Field Days event in Knoxville, Tennessee, from November 16-18.  There is no registration fee and a limited number of travel scholarships are available. This event is designed as an education Field Day—a hands-on opportunity for producers to gain practical, science-based information about implementing biomass-based renewable energy technologies and  making decisions about implementing renewable energy technologies in their respective operations. Read more »