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Secretary Vilsack Visits Nashville, Goes Live on RFD-TV

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack appears on RFD TV in Nashville, TN, with RFD News Director Mark Oppold, on Monday, May 23, 2011. USDA Photo.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack appears on RFD TV in Nashville, TN, with RFD News Director Mark Oppold, on Monday, May 23, 2011. USDA Photo.

After a great event yesterday morning on the Obama Administration’s efforts to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, Secretary Vilsack headed to RFD-TV for a live show titled, “Homegrown Energy, Fueling America’s Future.” With an in-studio audience of about 275 people and others watching live, the Secretary kicked it off by talking with RFD-TV host Mark Oppold about how we need America to be a country that makes, creates and innovates.  He talked about USDA programs and rural America’s ability to meet our country’s energy needs through renewable energy. Read more »

Recipes for Healthy Kids Contest Ends May 31– Don’t Forget to Vote!

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

Have you cast your vote? The selection period for the Popular Choice Award in the First Lady’s Recipes for Healthy Kids competition will close soon, so it’s time to make your voice heard.  The First Lady and the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched the competition last September, challenging teams of school nutrition professionals, chefs, students, and community members to develop creative, nutritious, and kid-approved recipes that schools can easily incorporate into National School Lunch Program menus – and families can try at home. And I just want to say that I think Recipes for Healthy Kids is a really neat idea. It draws on America’s culinary creativity and our commitment to the healthy lifestyle we all aim for. Chefs are providing culinary expertise, school nutrition professionals are sharing insight as to what can be accomplished in a school setting, and kids and parents are making sure that students will choose these nutritious items in school and beyond. Read more »

White House Business Council Roundtable held in Mexico, Missouri

Cross posted from the White House blog:

Twenty business leaders from Mexico, Missouri, joined me at the Mid America Brick plant recently for the first White House Business Council Roundtable meeting in Missouri.  President Obama asked me, along with other senior Administration officials, to facilitate a discussion to seek their input on ways the federal government can improve economic conditions and help them create jobs.

When you think of “bricks and mortar” for cementing economic development, there is no better place than the heartland of America at a brick plant for a setting.  Mexico, Missouri, was once known as the brick capital of the world, but its biggest factory shut down in 2002.  An energetic entrepreneur, Frank Cordie, CEO of Mid America Brick, is bringing it back to life.  Mr. Cordie graciously hosted and assisted with inviting key business leaders from the region.  His company is using USDA funding, as well as other financing, to restore this icon of the local business community, which at one time was the main employer in this rural town.  A tour of the plant made me believe he is well on the way to success.  I have never found a more committed group of leaders to their community. Read more »

Rhode Island Agriculture Day

I was honored to accompany Governor Lincoln Chafee at the Rhode Island Agriculture Day held at the Statehouse in Providence.  In my remarks to farmers, agriculture organizations, legislators, and government officials, I emphasized the Obama Administration’s commitment to Rural America, and complimented producers for being a model for the nation in direct marketing of agricultural products.

Ten percent of Rhode Island’s agricultural sales move through direct marketing channels such as farmers markets, roadside stands and CSA’s.  In addition, Rhode Island has developed a successful Farm-to-School program and a Farm-to-Plate program with local restaurants. Read more »

Urban Gardening Ministry Brings Fresh Food to Richmond, VA

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

There’s a lot going on in the Church Hill North neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia! For three years, the congregation at 31st Street Baptist Church has been growing fresh vegetables in an urban garden behind their church. More recently, they launched a healthy living campaign to encourage the congregation and the surrounding community to get active and eat more nutritious foods.

Led by Rev. Dr. Henderson, who serves as senior pastor, 31st Street Baptist Church has acquired three city lots behind their church. The congregants have a large community garden with 24 cultivated raised beds in one of the lots. The garden provides healthy, fresh produce to a community without close access to a grocery store. The majority of the produce from the garden is used in the church’s nutrition center, which has served members of the local community for 21 years and receives some of its food via USDA’s Emergency Food Assistance (TEFAP) program. Read more »

USDA Asks Local Pennsylvania Businesses What They Need From the Federal Government to Grow, Create Jobs

Thomas Williams, Pennsylvania Rural Development State Director, talks about the USDA Rural Energy for America Program with Roxanne Molnar, funding recipient (center) and Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Cheryl Cook.  REAP funding enabled Molnar Farms to install computer-controlled radiant heaters to reduce energy costs.  Cook and Williams toured the farm earlier this month.

Thomas Williams, Pennsylvania Rural Development State Director, talks about the USDA Rural Energy for America Program with Roxanne Molnar, funding recipient (center) and Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Cheryl Cook. REAP funding enabled Molnar Farms to install computer-controlled radiant heaters to reduce energy costs. Cook and Williams toured the farm earlier this month.

USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl Cook and Thomas Williams, Rural Development Pennsylvania State Director recently conducted a Small Business Council meeting at the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce, followed by a visit to Molnar Farms, a local Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) recipient. Roxanne Molnar explained to the USDA officials how $20,000 in REAP funds was used to install computer-controlled radiant heaters and ceiling vents to modernize a 40,000 chicken house to keep the chickens healthy in the extreme heat and cold. Read more »