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Abandoned Mine Lands Restored to Improve Watershed Health in Ohio

Water quality is monitored by volunteers with the Monday Creek Restoration Project. MCRP photo.

Water quality is monitored by volunteers with the Monday Creek Restoration Project. MCRP photo.

For nearly a century, the aquatic life that once thrived in the Monday Creek Watershed has been virtually dead. The goal of this Recovery Act project, known as “Devastation to Destination,” is to construct a healthy functioning riparian corridor, restore water quality, and create an integrated land management strategy resulting in species diversity among existing aquatic and wildlife habitats. It is located in Perry County between the towns of New Straitsville and Shawnee, Ohio. Read more »

USDA Community Facilities Program Supports Job Growth Across America

Earlier today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released a report highlighting the ways in which Community Facilities infrastructure investments in rural communities help create jobs and boost economic development, and Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager announced additional investments that will create jobs and promote economic growth across the nation.

The Community Facilities program supports job growth across the nation.  For example, recently, Under Secretary Tonsager had the opportunity to visit Greene County Medical Center (GCMC) in Jefferson, Iowa.  The 75-year-old hospital is planning a large expansion and renovation project that will create a state-of-the-art medical campus and USDA Rural Development will be involved in a big way. Read more »

USDA Works to Reopen Export Markets for Virginia and South Carolina Logs

When pest detections led China to suspend exports of logs from Virginia and South Carolina last spring, USDA began work to minimize the impact of this trade disruption on one of those states’ most important industries.

We began by negotiating with China to establish science-based standards to allow log exports to resume.  Our work culminated in a visit by Chinese officials to South Carolina and Virginia. The delegation’s visit took them to facilities where state and Federal officials carry out agricultural inspections and treatments, tours of port facilities, and demonstrations of land management practices at forests, nurseries, and logging operations across Virginia and South Carolina. Read more »

USDA Revolving Loan Fund Creating Jobs, Boosting Businesses in Southwest Minnesota

Since 1997, Prairieland Economic Development Commission in Slayton, Minnesota, has been partnering with USDA Rural Development and local lenders to grow the economy and create jobs in southwestern Minnesota.

Prairieland has financed over 60 rural businesses and helped create hundreds of jobs using funds provided through four Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) awards from Rural Development. Prairieland’s main service area covers southwestern Minnesota and portions of northwest Iowa and eastern South Dakota.

John Padalino, the acting administrator of Rural Development’s business and cooperative programs, visited Worthington, Minn., on May 22 to see firsthand the impact Prairieland’s IRP investments are making in the community. Read more »

Feeding More Marylanders by Stretching Federal Dollars

Benjamin Taylor of Taylor’s Produce in Preston, Maryland loads a bin of sweet corn destined for the Maryland Food Bank.  Taylor’s produce donated nearly seven thousand pounds of freshly picked produce to the Food Bank including sweet corn, squash and cucumbers.

Benjamin Taylor of Taylor’s Produce in Preston, Maryland loads a bin of sweet corn destined for the Maryland Food Bank. Taylor’s produce donated nearly seven thousand pounds of freshly picked produce to the Food Bank including sweet corn, squash and cucumbers.

Recently I had a great opportunity to attend a meeting of Maryland’s Partnership to End Childhood Hunger.  Led by Governor Martin O’Malley’s Office for Children, the Partnership “table” brings together state agencies, USDA, local non-profit organizations such as food banks, advocacy groups, and the private sector.  Since November of 2008, the Partnership has focused its efforts on connecting individuals to federal nutrition programs and bridging the gap between eligibility and participation. Read more »

USDA in Arizona Partners with the Department of Education to Help Rural Students Obtain College Aid

USDA in Arizona has joined the national partnership effort with the Department of Education (ED) to get the word out about federal student aid resources.

Arizona Rural Development (RD), Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)—the three USDA agencies that comprise most of the service centers across Arizona—are sending information packets to their staff in local offices across the State. In a joint statement, the agencies noted that “This is a great opportunity for the many students in areas who may not have easy access to the information. Field office locations in rural communities across the state make it a logical partner to help spread the word about all the kinds of help available for students who want to further their education.” Read more »