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With USDA Assistance, an Arizona Ranch Family Finds Savings “Blowing in the Wind”

The folks in the small community of Taylor, Arizona, have a reputation for creative problem solving. Back in the late 1800’s local blacksmith Joseph Hancock came up with an ingenious solution for celebrating the Fourth of July in the tiny town. The tradition then was for towns to fire their cannons to celebrate Independence Day.

But the Town of Taylor was without a cannon. So Hancock offered up two historic anvils and the tradition of “firing the anvil” became an annual event for the town. At dawn every Fourth of July, the Jennings Band members climb onto a flatbed truck and ride up and down the neighborhoods in Taylor, stopping on street corners while the anvil is fired and patriotic music is played for the sleepy residents. Read more »

Mobilizing Rural Communities: Partnerships and Outreach in Montana

Cross posted from the White House blog:

This week, I served as keynote speaker for a special conference in Great Falls, Montana, convened by Rural Dynamics Incorporated.  The theme of the conference  was “Mobilizing Rural Communities” and included participants representing a host of private, public, and non-profit participants.  It has been less than three months since President Obama signed an Executive Order creating the first White House Rural Council.  The Great Falls conference provided an opportunity to connect with many great folks from the Northern Plains Region, who are working on a daily basis on local projects and local partnerships to further the economic development and vitality of rural areas.

The group was very interested to learn more about the work of the White House Rural Council.  We discussed President Obama’s priority of ensuring that rural areas have additional opportunities for economic investment and available working capital.  We also discussed the need for innovation in the areas of high-speed Internet, renewable energy opportunities, as well as enhancements in education and health care.  Topics involving natural resource-related business enterprises, public works, and forestry – all key focus areas for the White House Rural Council—were also discussed. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: How America Creates Jobs

Last week, I visited the Port of Miami to see firsthand how job creators in this country are making, innovating and exporting ‘Made in America’ goods.

The port was busy with container ships on-loading goods for export.  But if the Port doesn’t make some changes to their infrastructure, they risk losing out on business from the new, larger container ships that will start flowing through the Panama Canal in 2014.

So they are beginning work on a major transportation tunnel and a deep-dredge project that will provide jobs for construction workers today, and keep the Port of Miami among the busiest in the nation. Read more »

Announcing the “Food, Fun and Sun” Contest Finalists! Now Open for Public Vote, You Decide the Winners!

Thank you to all of the USDA Summer Food Service Programs that submitted an entry into the “Food, Fun, and Sun” Summer Food Service Program Story and Photo Contest!  The competition was extremely tough as we had over 100 contest submissions representing programs in over 40 States!  The first round of judging is complete.  We are thrilled to present to you the four contest finalists in each of the four categories. Read more »

Rural Champions Utilize USDA Programs to Promote Sustainable Farmland Practices

Rick Huszagh and Crista Carrell, Down to Earth Energy, Georgia

Rick Huszagh and Crista Carrell, Down to Earth Energy, Georgia

Cross posted from the White House Rural Champions of Change website:

When Rick Huszagh and Crista Carrell purchased part of her family’s farm in 1995, their focus was on farmland preservation as much as the creation of a successful business enterprise. Read more »

Dr. Brian McCluskey Discusses Serving as an APHIS Veterinarian for Over 20 Years

I’m Brian McCluskey, Chief Epidemiologist for Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services.  I’ve been with APHIS for more than 20 years and served in many different capacities.

I decided to become a veterinarian during my junior year in college, as a way to combine my interests in science, medicine and dairy cows.  As soon as I graduated and went into practice working with dairy cows, I found my skills challenged right away!  In my first five calls for calving assistance, four of them involved uterine torsions.  Now, this is a rare condition with a twist in the uterus making it difficult for the calf to come out.  I was able to successfully handle the calls, but I was really questioning my career choice at the time. Read more »