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Digging the “Real Dirt” at an Historic USDA Laboratory

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

1935:  It was the year when baseball legend Babe Ruth hung up his spikes, and New Deal programs like the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps extended a helping hand to a nation devastated by the Dust Bowl and gripped by the Great Depression. Read more »

USDA Housing Administrator: Rural Housing Program is Solid

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 enabled USDA Rural Development to help more than 80,000 families in rural communities secure safe, decent, affordable homes.   In the depths of the recession in early 2009, new home construction and private sector mortgage lending virtually ground to a halt in rural America.

By more than doubling the number of families served during a difficult economic time, Rural Development’s Single Family Housing Guaranteed program played a critical role in resuscitating the rural housing market.  All along, we continued to adhere to strong underwriting standards and strict lender oversight, and implemented a number of additional quality control procedures.  A preliminary Inspector General Report led to an article in the January 14, 2011 New York Times, which raised various questions.

We have great confidence in the soundness of our guaranteed portfolio, and see no indication that loans made under the Recovery Act will have any significant negative impact on the continued strength of our portfolio.  We wanted to take this opportunity to provide our perspective on some of the claims made in the article, and we have done so here.

Improvements in LGM Dairy Insurance

We here at USDA have been working on improving insurance coverage for America’s farmers and ranchers.  In particular, we have been working hard to improve insurance coverage for dairy producers.  In recent years, dairy farmers across the country faced a crisis and thousands considered bankruptcy.  One of the ways in which USDA has taken action is by improving the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy Cattle plan of insurance. Read more »

USDA Programs Are Available to Assist Local Farm Owners

Farm owner Andy Dunham (wearing cap) explains his crop production system to John Whitaker, FSA Iowa State Executive Director

Farm owner Andy Dunham (wearing cap) explains his crop production system to John Whitaker, FSA Iowa State Executive Director

Recent estimates indicate only nine percent of family farm income comes from farming and fewer than half of our nation’s farmers and ranchers list farming as their primary occupation. Read more »

A USDA Home Repair Grant Helps a Limited-Income Texas Homeowner Save Energy, Make Improvements

Julia Reyna was in need of assistance to repair her roof, replace the front and back doors, and replace falling sheetrock.  She manages her bills with monthly income from Social Security, Supplemental Security Income and SNAP (food assistance) however this did not provide her with enough income to pay for additional expenses.

Julia is 67 years old and suffers from arthritis. The condition of her house allowed cold and rain to penetrate.  During a visit to the USDA Rural Development office in Amarillo, Julia said that her roof had been severely damaged by hail, wind, and rainstorms that are prevalent in the Texas Panhandle. Due to the roof damage, there was extensive ceiling damage in the utility room and the bedrooms. The sheetrock had fallen from the ceiling in a number of places. Read more »

Good Morning America Visits Chicago to Highlight a Healthy School

 Good Morning America staff visited Chicago's Academy for Global Citizenship, a Gold of Distinction Healthier US School, as part of a segment that featured Secretary Vilsack who announced proposed rules for new meal patterns as recommended by IOM. The piece aired on Thursday, January 14th.

Good Morning America staff visited Chicago's Academy for Global Citizenship, a Gold of Distinction Healthier US School, as part of a segment that featured Secretary Vilsack who announced proposed rules for new meal patterns as recommended by IOM. The piece aired on Thursday, January 14th.

Yesterday, an ABC Good Morning America (GMA) crew visited the Academy for Global Citizenship in Chicago. Why was GMA at a small neighborhood school on the Second City’s southwest side on a frosty day in January? To help underscore the importance of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack’s recent announcement of proposed changes to school meal standards. Read more »