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Taking Part in a “Yes We Can” America

Each year, USDA Rural Development assists thousands of limited income Americans achieve the dream of homeownership.  We do it with the support of our partners and our field staff.  Below, cross-posted from the White House website, is the story of one person in Utah who teamed with USDA to make a big difference.

Cross posted from the White House Champions of Change website:

Emily S. Niehaus is the Founder and Executive Director of Community Rebuilds, a nonprofit whose mission is to build energy-efficient housing, provide education on sustainability, and improve the housing conditions of the workforce through an affordable program.

In 2008, Presidential candidate Barack Obama declared “Yes We Can.” I, along with millions of other Americans, was inspired by this approach to politics. I understood this message to be a partnership request. I had a role to play. And so I founded Community Rebuilds to address an affordable housing need in my rural community with the larger goal of shifting the existing construction paradigm to have a lighter impact. Community Rebuilds’ mission is to build energy-efficient housing, provide education on sustainability, and improve the housing conditions of the workforce through an affordable program. Read more »

USDA Recognizes Manufacturers who are Making a Difference in Rural America

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addresses Honorees as Business and Cooperative Programs Administrator Judith Canales looks on.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addresses Honorees as Business and Cooperative Programs Administrator Judith Canales looks on.

Last month the White House and the USDA hosted the “Recognition of Manufacturing Success in Rural America” event at the White House Eisenhower Executive Office building in Washington, DC.  The ceremony recognized 46 rural manufacturing companies that have made outstanding contributions to the economy and job sustainability in their communities. Read more »

Got Questions about #AgCensus? Send Them Our Way!

Every five years USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service asks millions of people around the country to fill out the Census of Agriculture. And inevitably, we get millions of questions about it. This time around, we are taking advantage of communication tools that weren’t available to us last time and turning to Twitter to answer questions that farmers and ranchers may have. After all, times are changing and more and more operations have online access with each passing year.

Today at 1 p.m. EST, we will spend an hour on our agency’s Twitter account (@usda_nass) answering questions about the 2012 Census of Agriculture. We’d love to hear from all of you to address any concerns, reservations or just simple inquiries you may have about participating in the Census. To make sure that we see your questions, simply add the #AgCensus tag to your tweet. Read more »

Ensuring Food Stamp Integrity

Cross posted from Politico:

As agriculture undersecretary and a former director of state Health and Human Services departments in Maine, Oregon and Iowa, I know the importance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps. In today’s difficult economic times, this vital program helps families across the nation put food on the table.

Despite a rash of recent stories about food stamp fraud, the facts are that the Agriculture Department has a zero tolerance policy on this. We aggressively pursue those trying to take advantage of America’s compassion for people in need. Read more »

U.S. Forest Service Hosts, Trains, and Engages Bhutanese Foresters

Kevin Megown (right), program manager at the Remote Sensing Applications Center in Salt Lake City, familiarizes Phub Dhendup (left) and Kinley Tshering (center) with the forest types found in the montane, basin and range ecosystems in Mill Creek Canyon on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah. Dhendup and Tshering are official guests of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Forest Service, and are assigned to the Department of Forests, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests in Bhutan. They are spending two combined months in Salt Lake City and Missoula, Mont. while working and training with the Forest Service on forestry and climate change issues.

Kevin Megown (right), program manager at the Remote Sensing Applications Center in Salt Lake City, familiarizes Phub Dhendup (left) and Kinley Tshering (center) with the forest types found in the montane, basin and range ecosystems in Mill Creek Canyon on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah. Dhendup and Tshering are official guests of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Forest Service, and are assigned to the Department of Forests, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests in Bhutan. They are spending two combined months in Salt Lake City and Missoula, Mont. while working and training with the Forest Service on forestry and climate change issues.

Bhutan is a small mountainous kingdom nestled in the Himalayas. Some people know it as the country that measures gross national happiness in addition to its gross domestic product. Others may have heard about its innovative, eco-friendly approach to tourism or of its Dragon King’s royal wedding in 2011. Read more »

A New Hispanic Behavioral Health Facility Serves Rural Arizona

Arizona State Director Alan Stephens and PHC Board Treasurer Mary Lou Rosales at the ribbon cutting.

Arizona State Director Alan Stephens and PHC Board Treasurer Mary Lou Rosales at the ribbon cutting.

“La esperanza nunca debe atrasarse.”

“Hope should never be deferred.”

For years the Pinal Hispanic Council (PHC) had to defer building a new behavioral health clinic in Eloy, Arizona. They couldn’t afford to fund it. Read more »