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USDA Employees in Wisconsin Grill Year-Round to End Hunger

What do bratwurst and USDA have in common? The ability to mobilize community members to donate to Feds Feed Families!

On sizzling hot summer days in Madison, Wisconsin, employees of the Agricultural Research Service’s Dairy Forage Research Center fire up their grills with hot dogs, hamburgers, veggie burgers, and of course, brats (short for bratwurst, a German sausage that is especially popular in Wisconsin)  to incentivize donors to keep giving to feed hungry families.

This creative idea was sparked by Jane Marita, a plant molecular geneticist, who wanted to add some energy and excitement to the 2011 Feds Feed Families Campaign. By offering her co-workers free brats in exchange for food pantry donations, Marita noticed a marked increase in donations which resulted in a tremendous total of 2,800 pounds of food collected by the research center in 2011. Read more »

Technology Transfer to Private Sector Focus of USDA Event

On August 7, 2012, USDA-APHIS National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) experts and representatives from other Federal research laboratories in northern Colorado will host a free, 1-day technology transfer fair for individuals interested in learning more about northern Colorado’s Federal research laboratories, their expertise, and potential products, tools and techniques available for transfer to the private sector.  The event will be held from 9:00am-4:30pm MST at the Drake Centre in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Northern Colorado is home to many Federal research laboratories.  In addition to supporting their various agency missions, these labs generate business opportunities for the private sector through their basic and applied research that leads to the development of new products, tools, and techniques.  These synergistic relationships with the private sector not only improve the quality and impact of our research, but also promote growth for our nation’s economy. Read more »

USDA Rural Development and Habitat for Humanity Partner to Help a Kentucky Mom Build and Finance Her First Home

Participating in the ground breaking are (from left) Mary Shearer (Executive Director of Kentucky Habitat for Humanity); Chase Crigler (field representative for U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell); prospective homeowner Suzanna Hoskins and her three children; State Director Tom Fern; State Senator Don Blevins and Melissa Patrick (Morehead State University).

History was made in a small rural Kentucky community last week as ground was broken on a new home in Morehead. This project marks the first time that USDA Rural Development and Habitat for Humanity have collaborated to help a formerly homeless single mother take her first steps toward becoming a first-time homeowner. Read more »

USDA Community Facilities Funds Promote Student Fitness in South Dakota

The South Dakota  Bon Homme School District #04-2 Mission Statement – “To ensure that our students have the resources to succeed in a changing world.”  Hard work is continually being done with the focus placed on learning and commitment of excellence to serve the students who are our future leaders, their parents and the communities.  The District is made up of communities and rural areas of Springfield, Tabor, Tyndall, and the Bon Homme Hutterite Colony.

South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks participated in a dedication ceremony for the Fitness Center project at Bon Homme School District #04-2.  The Fitness Center will be made available to all students and staff with weight, exercise, and cardio vascular equipment.  USDA Rural Development is providing a Community Facilities grant of $33,000 to be leveraged with an applicant contribution through the Hoch Foundation of $247,000 for the project. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: The Means to Help Producers Impacted by Drought

This week, we continued to see historic levels of drought grip much of our nation, impacting thousands of farm families. Although the hard work and innovation of our producers has fueled a strong farm economy in recent years, President Obama and I understand the major challenges this drought poses for American agriculture.

As of July 20, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 1,055 counties across the country as disaster areas due to drought. Significant portions of many crops are impacted – for example, according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor report, 88 percent of our nation’s corn and 87 percent of our soybeans are in drought-stricken areas. Rising grain prices are threatening livestock and dairy operators with high input costs. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 7/20/12

Approximately 88% of the corn grown in the U.S. is within an area experiencing drought, based on historical NASS crop production data.

Approximately 88% of the corn grown in the U.S. is within an area experiencing drought, based on historical NASS crop production data. (Click to enlarge map)

Visit for the latest information regarding USDA’s Drought Disaster response and assistance.

The drought of 2012 has rapidly expanded and intensified, covering 64% of the contiguous United States – according to the U.S. Drought Monitor – by July 17.  Three months ago, that figure stood at 37%, and at the beginning of the year, only 28% of the lower 48 states had drought coverage. Read more »