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In Mississippi, USDA Rural Development Brings Jobs to a Five-County Area

One of Mississippi’s largest USDA Rural Development awards was recently celebrated in Lowndes County, where local leaders expect the improvements made by this award to lead to hundreds of jobs.

USDA Rural Development State Director Trina George was joined by U.S. Senator Roger Wicker and numerous state and local officials to commemorate a USDA Rural Development loan of $13 million to the Columbus-Lowndes County Development Link, which will help the entity expand the regional industrial park with a special focus on attracting aerospace industries. This award compliments a previous USDA Rural Development loan-grant combination of $17.5 million awarded last year to expand and improve the water and sewer infrastructure of the industrial park. Read more »

Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan Teams Up with USDA’s Certified Beef Program

Nolan Ryan is one of the greatest icons in Major League Baseball history – a first-ballot Hall of Fame member and team president of the Texas Rangers. But Ryan is special in another way: he heads the Nolan Ryan Guaranteed Tender Beef Program, one of just a few marketing programs verified by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

AMS relies on university-researched and industry-recognized standards to determine which marketing claims it chooses to verify, and Ryan’s beef has been called “safe at home.” Companies approach AMS to verify marketing claims, such as “guaranteed tender,” to assure their customers that the products are exactly what they claim when listed on packaging. This is an important service to consumers who desire a certain quality of beef and want government, third-party assurance that their beef purchases meet exacting requirements. Read more »

Online Resource Helps Producers Get Products to Market, Bolster Local and Regional Economies

Just because a producer works at a smaller operation doesn’t mean he or she can’t sell on a bigger scale. And the size of a farm shouldn’t limit a producer’s ability to feed local foods to local people. But how can such an operation connect the dots to successfully market its products?

One answer lies in a new kind of business model known as food hubs, which are emerging as critical pillars for building stronger regional and local food systems.  A food hub centralizes the business management structure to facilitate the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products. Read more »

New Guide to Managing Invasive Plants in the South

Cogongrass, a nonnative invasive plant, infesting a southern pine plantation. (photo by Chris Evans, courtesy of Forestry Images)

Cogongrass, a nonnative invasive plant, infesting a southern pine plantation. (photo by Chris Evans, courtesy of Forestry Images)

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 the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Nonnative plants have hitchhiked their way into flower beds, gardens, and yards of landowners in the South for decades, invading and often harming forests and other natural areas by pushing out native plants and degrading wildlife habitat. These exotic plants often reduce forest productivity, wildlife diversity, and water quality and quantity. Read more »

Check Your Steps! Clean: Wash Hands and Surfaces Often to Keep Your Family Safer from Food Poisoning

Bacteria exist everywhere in our environment, and some of them can make us really sick. Illness-causing bacteria exist in or on food, on countertops, kitchen utensils, hands, pets, and in the dirt where food grows. As part of the Food Safe Families campaign, this week’s Check Your Steps blog focuses on cleaning before, during, and after preparing and eating food to keep your family safer from food poisoning. Read more »