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Farm Service Agency County Committee Diversity: Outreach is the Key

It is the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) County Committee nomination time and counties across the nation are reaching out in their communities for a diverse group of nominees.  Butler County, Missouri, has seen firsthand the benefits of outreach efforts.

During the 2010 election, a woman and an African-American were elected to serve as members of the committee, making it the first time the county has not had to identify a minority advisor. The current committee is comprised of Jim Hover, chairperson; Isaiah Jones, vice-chairperson and Karen Buttrey, member.  Jones and Buttrey have previous experience on the committee, serving in an advisory capacity.  Jones served as an advisor from 2006 until being elected to the committee in 2010. Buttrey served as an advisor from 2001 to 2007.  Hover was first elected to the committee in 2009. Read more »

With USDA Support, a Michigan Commercial-Scale Renewable Energy Project Moves Forward

Groundbreaking at the Fremont, Michigan, Community Digester.  From left:  City of Fremont Mayor James Rynberg, Rob Zeldenrust of North Central Co-Op, Arvin Shah of INDUS Energy, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow,  NOVI Energy President Anand Gangadharan, USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan James J. Turner, and state Rep. Jon Bumstead.

Groundbreaking at the Fremont, Michigan, Community Digester. From left: City of Fremont Mayor James Rynberg, Rob Zeldenrust of North Central Co-Op, Arvin Shah of INDUS Energy, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, NOVI Energy President Anand Gangadharan, USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan James J. Turner, and state Rep. Jon Bumstead.

Michigan always has unpredictable weather, and Friday’s was exactly what one would expect – unexpected.  I’m sure when they scheduled the groundbreaking for the Fremont community anaerobic digester, NOVI Energy assumed that late June would see warm weather and clear skies.  Instead, the temperature was in the low 60s with scattered rain. This is no doubt why NOVI Energy also put up two large tents. Weather aside, the groundbreaking event was a huge success. Read more »

Hunger-Free Communities Grantee Succeeds With Community-Run Marketplace

In February, 2011, Centro del Obrero Fronterizo was awarded one of 14 FY 2010 Hunger-Free Communities Grants.  Grantee projects started on March 15, 2011, and even after only two short months our grantees are noting encouraging results.  Centro del Obrero Fronterizo provided this background and update in a recent report:

“The Chamizal Neighborhood in El Paso, Texas, is one of the most impoverished in the nation, according to the Federal Reserve Bank. Dozens of empty warehouses dot the landscape, a testament to the decline of a garment industry that once flourished here, employing thousands of Mexican immigrant women. When the industry left the area in search of cheaper labor, thousands of women were left unemployed.  In 1981, displaced female garment workers established La Mujer Obrera in hopes of broadening economic and educational opportunities by creating jobs based on community needs. Read more »

MyPlate goes Red, White, and Blue

Fireworks, parades, music, family and friends, and summer weather make up the ambiance of the 4th of July. Food is also at the forefront of the All-American celebration. Classic picnic favorites, such as juicy hamburgers, grilled chicken, delicious coleslaws and potato salads, and fresh fruit desserts, are often found at 4th of July parties. Are you getting hungry yet? With the help of the USDA’s new MyPlate icon and coordinating messages, you can make your 4th of July plate a healthy plate.

Making your plate half fruits and vegetables is easy with the abundant amount of fruits and vegetables available during the summer. If you’re hosting a cookout, you can try grilling broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, onions, or corn on the cob. Add sliced watermelon or a fruit salad with cantaloupe, strawberries and blackberries to the menu for a refreshing snack. With some smart shopping it’s possible to fit fruits and vegetables into any budget. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: On Independence Day, Celebrate American Values

This 4th of July is a good time to celebrate the values and ideals that make this nation great.

Americans enjoy incredible freedoms and limitless opportunity.  We can say what we like, and worship how we believe.  This nation gives us the freedom and support we need to seek a good education, work hard, retire comfortably and achieve the American dream.

And even when the rhetoric from partisan politicians can seem angry or over-the-top, we have a system of government that holds honest elections and respects the will of voters. Read more »

A Fresh Start in New Jersey in a Home Away from Home

 

Mihai, Mihaiela, and Sabina Giurca in front of their new USDA-financed home in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

Mihai, Mihaiela, and Sabina Giurca in front of their new USDA-financed home in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

A few years ago, Mihai & Mihaiela Giurca reluctantly left both their native land of Romania to start fresh in New Jersey.  In 2007 they became permanent residents and moved to a one bedroom apartment in Atlantic City.  Both worked diligently to learn the language and obtain steady employment in the casino industry. Read more »