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Recipe for Recovery of Rural Communities

Rural communities will play a critical role in the nation’s economic recovery, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in Omaha, Nebraska on January 28, 2011. Vilsack pointed out that producers learned well about the dangers of debt during the 1980s’ farm crisis and took heed, which has placed them and their communities in a better position during the recent downward trend in the economy.

Innovation has been key to producers as they find new ways to boost production. Ethanol and bio-fuels are an important factor for continued growth and the strong exports of U.S. crops are supporting jobs in rural America, Secretary Vilsack said.  He also commented that it is probable that the most successful part of our economy today is agriculture. Read more »

Draw Up a Winning Game Plan with Nutritious Foods and Physical Activity

What do dairy farmers, NFL stars, and the Secretary of Agriculture have in common? They all braved the winter weather and traveled to the site of Super Bowl XLV to support the Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) program. FUTP60 conducted a kids’ football clinic at the NFL Experience, an interactive theme park at the Dallas Convention Center. The clinic, aimed at kids,  focused on the fundamentals to improve nutrition and physical activity in their schools and personal lives. Read more »

USDA Helps Renovate a South Dakota Rural Housing Complex to Improve the Quality of Rural Life

Parkview Apartments, Inc. in Arlington, South Dakota, is a nonprofit organization that consists of nine buildings. The first building on this project was built in 1964 and the other buildings were later added in the 1970s.  The project had seen an increase in vacancy rates prior to the renovation.  Today, with USDA funded upgrades, they hope to increase the occupancy rate.

USDA Rural Development has partnered with South Dakota Housing Development Authority to fund rehab including reducing the number of units from 42 to 35, resulting in 14-one bedroom, 20-two bedroom, and one-three bedroom to better serve the needs of families in the area, along with roofing, siding, plumbing, electrical, flooring, windows, appliances, and handicap accessibility. Read more »

FSIS & APHIS Kick Off World Veterinary Year at the Opening Ceremony for Vet 2011

On Friday, members from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), as well as members of veterinarian organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), joined at the Jefferson Auditorium in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the first veterinary school in Lyon, France, in 1761.  FSIS is the largest employer of veterinarians worldwide and with APHIS at number two, it only made sense that USDA  acknowledge these individuals in a meaningful way. FSIS and APHIS held an opening ceremony and I was fortunate enough to deliver remarks on behalf of FSIS alongside Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, Under Secretary for Food Safety, Dr. Ron DeHaven, Executive Vice President, AVMA, and Dr. John Clifford, Chief Veterinary Officer, APHIS. This morning’s presentations may be found here. Read more »

Groundhog Job Shadow Day

Front Row:  Heath Price and  Richard Carrig, Rural Development; John Gillette, Corey John,  Lacy Hindry and Chris Henning, Centennial Job Corp Center, Lori Church, Wilder Fire District Middle Row:  De Enrico, Craig Lane, and Doug Amick Top:  Frank Kinkler

Front Row: Heath Price and Richard Carrig, Rural Development; John Gillette, Corey John, Lacy Hindry and Chris Henning, Centennial Job Corp Center, Lori Church, Wilder Fire District Middle Row: De Enrico, Craig Lane, and Doug Amick Top: Frank Kinkler

I’m at the new Fire Station in Wilder, Idaho, where Engine 821 can now be stored indoors, protected from the elements, thanks to the community approving the financing of the station through USDA Rural Development’s Community Facility Loan and Grant Program, with funding provided to Rural Development in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) of 2009. Read more »

Training the Next Generation of Top Chefs

Last fall I was honored to participate in the Job Corp’s Top Chef Competition held on at the Department of Agriculture (USDA).  I must say it was one of the most delicious assignments I’ve ever had!  The competition, inspired by Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, was a huge success.  Over 20 Food Service managers from Job Corps centers across the country competed in teams to showcase their culinary talents while applying healthy eating principles to their competition entries.

The Job Corps program is a residential education and training program that serves over 60,000 youth annually between the ages of 16 and 24.  Across 124 Job Corps centers, Food Service staff serves three square meals every day to our students.  Thus, it is critical to ensure our meals meet nutrition and health guidelines and requirements.  More importantly, we understand our role in promoting healthy lifestyle practices to our students, who will then apply what they learned in their independent lives after Job Corps. Read more »