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Breakfast – Making a Big Difference in Milwaukee

There is much we adults can learn from children, and one of them is being able to appreciate the simple things. I was at the Milwaukee Sign Language School in Milwaukee for a celebration of School Breakfast Week. I was thrilled by the students’ delight as Active Apple (Milwaukee Public Schools’ nutrition and fitness mascot) and Power Panther (USDA’s nutrition and fitness mascot) strolled into their classrooms.

The hearing-impaired students watched with rapt attention as their teachers signed to them about the mascots and special guests.  All the children seemed thrilled with the Active Apple pins and bookmarks the special guests distributed to them. Best of all, they clearly liked the calming routine of picking up their breakfast bags and eating at their desks. The cold breakfast, served in a simple paper box, was simple yet satisfying, as evidenced by the disappearing Multi-grain Cheerios, milk, juice and cereal bars. Read more »

In Energy Security, Rural America Leads the Way

This week, President Obama called on our nation to put an end – once and for all – to our dependence on foreign oil.  He laid out a plan for a more secure future by producing energy here at home, and investing in efficient vehicles and buildings. You can read more about it and watch a video of the President’s speech at Georgetown University in the Administration’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future on the White House blog.

Rural America is helping to lead these efforts. Read more »

Hmong Farmers Extend the Chilly Massachusetts Growing Season

A Flats Mentor Farm grower tends Asian crops growing in a high tunnel put in place with NRCS assistance.

A Flats Mentor Farm grower tends Asian crops growing in a high tunnel put in place with NRCS assistance.

The near-record snowfall in Massachusetts this winter did not deter farmer Pa Thao. In fact, it strengthened his resolve to make sure that nothing happened to the high tunnel that he put up last fall, so that it would be there when he’s ready to plant mustard greens and pea tendrils in the early spring. Every day Thao, who is from Laos, in tropical Southeast Asia, trudged across the frozen field with a shovel to clear snow away from the structure. Read more »

Deputy Under Secretary Outlines Agricultural Success at Mississippi Small Farmers Conference

In the two years that President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack have been in office, those involved in production agriculture have participated in driving a sustained economic recovery.  That’s the message I delivered earlier this week to farmers, extension staff, local business leaders and government officials during a speech at Alcorn State University in Mississippi.  I was honored to be asked to address those in attendance at the 20th annual Small Farmers Conference at Alcorn State.  The theme is “Sowing the Seeds of Opportunity for a Bountiful Harvest.” Read more »

Beginning Farmer Grows Organic Produce—and a Community

April Jones also raises Tamworth heritage hogs as part of her operation, providing four acres of pasture for a breed she describes as being hearty and having a good personality. The rust color of the breed's skin makes them less prone to sunburn, which is an important characteristic for pastured hogs, she says.

April Jones also raises Tamworth heritage hogs as part of her operation, providing four acres of pasture for a breed she describes as being hearty and having a good personality. The rust color of the breed's skin makes them less prone to sunburn, which is an important characteristic for pastured hogs, she says.

April Jones went into farming to grow good food, and she has succeeded. Unexpectedly, along the way she’s also managed to grow a community. Read more »

Federal Recovery Act Support Responsible For A New Jersey Water Quality Project and Construction Jobs

Pictured above from left to right are Brittnay Diorio, Senator Frank Lautenberg's representative; Pete Bitting, LTMUA;  Marc DeBlasio, Engineer; Michael Beck, Mayor, Lower Township; USDA Rural Development State Director Howard Henderson; Senator Robert Menendez; and Nels Johnson, Chairman LTMUA

Pictured above from left to right are Brittnay Diorio, Senator Frank Lautenberg's representative; Pete Bitting, LTMUA; Marc DeBlasio, Engineer; Michael Beck, Mayor, Lower Township; USDA Rural Development State Director Howard Henderson; Senator Robert Menendez; and Nels Johnson, Chairman LTMUA

A groundbreaking ceremony took place earlier this month in the Town Bank section of Lower Township, Cape May County, New Jersey, to kick off the first phase of a water main project.  USDA Rural Development officials joined Lower Township Municipal Utility Authority, Senator Bob Menendez, state and local officials, and local residents outside the Cape May Beach Property Owners Association Clubhouse.  Howard Henderson, New Jersey Rural Development State Director told the crowd that this project is being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act), and is the second largest water project awarded in New Jersey. Read more »