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USDA and Habitat for Humanity Partner to Build Home for Single Mother in Mountain Iron, Minn.

When the final wall was raised on Jessi Mattila’s new home, it symbolized another step toward homeownership for the mother of three in Mountain Iron, Minn. It also symbolized the strength of a new partnership between USDA Rural Development and the Habitat for Humanity.

Rural Development is financing Mattila’s home through its direct home loan program and the North St. Louis County Habitat for Humanity is partnering with the Mattila family to provide support through the building process. Read more »

AMS Releases Grain Transportation Data in Raw Format

A grain silo in eastern Washington.  AMS has been tracking and gathering datasets for grain transportation for over a decade.  Photo by Sparktography.

Grain in eastern Washington. AMS has been tracking and gathering datasets for grain transportation for over a decade. Photo by Sparktography.

The United States proudly touts a long history of grain production and is the top exporter of grain in the world. Half of our wheat, almost 40 percent of soybeans and almost a fifth of our corn are exported.  That’s why for over a decade the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has been tracking and gathering datasets for grain transportation, including prices, deliveries, movements, sales and freight rates, and now, for the first time, we’ve released our historic data in an excel  format. Read more »

USDA Cultivates Opportunity in Panama as Trade Agreement Awaits Congressional Action

Pictured here at Panama Gastronomica are show organizer Elena Hernandez, Iron Chef Jose Garces, and U.S. Ambassador to Panama Phyllis Powers.

Pictured here at Panama Gastronomica are show organizer Elena Hernandez, Iron Chef Jose Garces, and U.S. Ambassador to Panama Phyllis Powers.

The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement now awaiting Congressional action promises to boost U.S. exports to the nation known as “The Crossroads of the Americas.” In total, Congressional ratification of the Panama, Colombia and South Korea trade agreements will help farmers and ranchers add more than $2.3 billion a year to the American economy, which will support nearly 20,000 jobs. In Panama, USDA is hard at work cultivating consumers’ tastes for high-quality U.S. food and agricultural products at events such as last month’s “Panama Gastronomica,” an international food show in Panama City. Read more »

Thanks to USDA Feds for Feeding Families this Summer

This summer, USDA employees nationwide joined together to raise 1,791,393 pounds of food during the 2011 Feds Feed Families food drive. Thank you to all USDA employees and their partnering communities. Your extra efforts and generosity made the 3rd annual food drive a remarkable success.

This summer, USDA employees nationwide joined together to raise 1,791,393 pounds of food during the 2011 Feds Feed Families food drive. Thank you to all USDA employees and their partnering communities. Your extra efforts and generosity made the 3rd annual food drive a remarkable success.

As summer has faded into fall, this is another season when many Americans are struggling to make ends meet.  USDA programs already make a big difference in the lives of many Americans: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps over 45 million Americans put nutritious food on the table.  This summer, USDA employees went even further and helped fill the shelves of food banks and pantries around the country through the 3rd Annual Feds Feed Families Food Drive. With generosity in their hearts and the mission of fighting hunger, USDA employees joined together nationwide and raised an impressive 1,791,393 pounds of food for donation!  That number breaks down further to a donation of about 15 pounds per employee.  Thank you to all USDA employees and partners who contributed to this remarkable donation. Your efforts reinforce the Department’s efforts to help people every day, every way. Read more »

Farm Credit: Celebrating Co-op Month and 95 Years of Service

Editor’s Note: To help celebrate Cooperative Month in October, USDA will be running blogs about the nation’s co-op sector, starting with a look at the nation’s producer-owned financial institution: Farm Credit. This blog is based on comments from Joy Upchurch, Vice President  at AgFirst Farm Credit Bank.

Since 1916, Farm Credit has been a trusted partner to agricultural producers and agribusinesses across rural America. As a nationwide network of cooperatively owned banks and retail lending associations, it is fitting that we help acknowledge October as Cooperative Month. This celebration coincides with a historic milestone for Farm Credit. As we celebrate the cooperative nature of our member organizations, we are also in the midst of celebrating Farm Credit’s 95th anniversary of service to rural America. Read more »

Possible New Flavor Sensations from the Jungles of Peru

ARS scientist Gary Samuels extracts a sample of living plant tissue from a wild cacao tree on the bank of Rio Marañón en Peru. (Photo courtesy of ARS)

ARS scientist Gary Samuels extracts a sample of living plant tissue from a wild cacao tree on the bank of Rio Marañón en Peru. (Photo courtesy of ARS)

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.

What a long, strange trip it’s been for newly discovered South American varieties of cacao beans—all the way from the remote Amazon Basin in Peru to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) labs in Beltsville, Md., where the beans are being studied as a possible source of future high-end chocolates that could one day be marketed, like fine wines, by geographical provenance. Read more »