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Midwest Schools Find Benefits in Serving Local Foods

Chicago Public School students enjoying fresh peaches with “furry skin.”

Chicago Public School students enjoying fresh peaches with “furry skin.”

Feeding thousands children a healthy lunch every day isn’t easy. But as Farm to School programs become an important way to build local economies and connect youth with their food source, some school districts are getting creative about improving the healthfulness, and local-ness, of their cafeteria. Read more »

Business Plans Score Big at FFA Agri-Entrepreneurship Awards

Rural Development each year helps fund the FFA Agri-Entrepreneurship Award as a special project of the National FFA Foundation, Inc. The award honors FFA members who recognize market opportunities and develop solid business plans. The award program recognizes young people who start or are planning to start their own businesses.

Cross posted from the National FFA Organization blog: Read more »

Goats, Turtles and WHIP Restore Rare Natural Area

Aaron Minson, BCCD Restoration Technician, holds a Blanding’s turtle that has been equipped with a transmitter.

Aaron Minson, BCCD Restoration Technician, holds a Blanding’s turtle that has been equipped with a transmitter.

In northern Illinois, a unique area called the Piscasaw Fen is being restored to its native majesty through the cooperation of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Boone County Conservation District (BCCD). Read more »

Clarifying the Department of Labor’s Child Labor Proposal

Recently there has been some concern and confusion in rural America over the Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed regulations on child labor and I’d like to help clarify how this regulation will impact our farmers.   We all know that kids benefit from good old-fashioned farm work.   It’s a longtime way of life that has helped make this country strong, and it teaches kids lessons that last a lifetime.

However, statistics show that while only 4 percent of working youth are in the agriculture sector, 40 percent of fatalities of working kids are associated with machines, equipment, or facilities related to agriculture.  That’s way too high.  We don’t want to blur the line between teaching kids about a good day’s hard work, and putting them in situations more safely handled by adults. Read more »