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USDA Official Stands with Indiana Producers During Worsening Drought

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service (FFAS) Michael Scuse (right) tour drought stricken corn fields with Doug Goyings, on the Goyings Farm in Paulding County, Ohio on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. More information at www.usda.gov/drought - USDA photo by Christina Reed.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service (FFAS) Michael Scuse (right) tour drought stricken corn fields with Doug Goyings, on the Goyings Farm in Paulding County, Ohio on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. More information at www.usda.gov/drought - USDA photo by Christina Reed.

Visit www.usda.gov/drought for the latest information regarding USDA’s Drought Disaster response and assistance.

This week, as drought conditions continued to expand across two-thirds of the lower 48 states, USDA officials began fanning out to rural communities across the country to show support to farmers and ranchers affected by the drought. As part of the effort, USDA Under Secretary for Foreign and Farm Agricultural Services Michael Scuse visited Indiana, a state now experiencing increasing levels of drought, as most of the state has been designated a natural disaster area by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack Announces Proposed Rule to Help Utilities Assist Home and Business Owners’ Energy Conservation Efforts

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with constituents after his Investments in Rural Pennsylvania speech about the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development (RD) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Proposed Energy Efficiency Rule at the Alleghany Electric Cooperative, Inc. Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association in Harrisburg, PA on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with constituents after his Investments in Rural Pennsylvania speech about the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development (RD) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Proposed Energy Efficiency Rule at the Alleghany Electric Cooperative, Inc. Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association in Harrisburg, PA on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

As Harrisburg, Penn., temperatures reached 93 degrees on Tuesday and continued to climb throughout the afternoon, it seemed an appropriate time for Secretary Tom Vilsack to announce a new proposed Federal Rule that could help rural homeowners and entrepreneurs save on their utility bills and create jobs in rural areas. The new energy efficiency effort will make federal loans available for rural electric cooperatives to re-lend to electric cooperative customers throughout America who want to make their homes and businesses more energy efficient. The partnership demonstrates a new “pathway to prosperity” according to Secretary Vilsack, and is “a reminder of President Obama’s commitment to stronger rural communities, a stronger rural economy, and strengthening rural values.” Read more »

Got Questions on Local Food? Join Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan Next Tuesday and #AskUSDA

Based on the overwhelming participation in our recent Google + Hangout, we know you have lots of questions about local food in your community and what USDA can do to help.  Some of your questions may be like these:

I’m in Wisconsin and know USDA funded a grocery store featuring local food in Connecticut. How can I find out more?

How many local food projects does USDA fund in Wyoming?

I live in Maine. Who grows local produce in the winter here?

Where is the closest food hub that can help me with distributing my produce into my local school? Read more »

Eastern Kentucky Cattle Operator Works with the Land to Protect Natural Resources

Ronnie (left), Gloria and Will Bowling are recognized for conservation on their farm, in the Appalachian region of Ky.

Clay County, located in eastern Kentucky in Appalachia, is one of the last places most folks would look for a grazing operation, but that’s exactly what Ronnie Bowling and his family is doing with their farm.  The Bowlings live on a 91-acre property, and are managing about 60 acres of it for grazing. Their goal is to provide for their family in a sustainable way.Working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Bowlings recently installed fencing and watering systems and planted forage for the cattle.  Read more »

4-H Youth Leaders Motivate Campers toward Good Health

4-H campers enjoy incorporating fitness into a healthy lifestyle.  Here, participants work to complete an obstacle course.

4-H campers enjoy incorporating fitness into a healthy lifestyle. Here, participants work to complete an obstacle course.

The Louisiana State 4-H Food and Fitness Camp is joining the Let’s Move! initiative to combat childhood obesity through improved nutrition and increased physical activity.  As a camp for fourth and fifth graders designed and run by high school 4-H teens, the program motivates campers to eat healthier and move more. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack Tours Progressive Pennsylvania

 From left: James Ringler, Glenn Stoltzfus, AU.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, Duane Stoltzfus and Dwight Stoltzfus. The Stoltzfus brothers explain how the compost solids are produced from their anaerobic digester. An anaerobic digester is a component of a waste management system that captures biogas for energy production a byproduct of this system are compost solids that are used for bedding for the dairy’s cattle. The anaerobic digester practice is part of a planned conservation management system that manages manure and/or comprehensive nutrient management system. Secretary Vilsack visited the Stoltzfus’  Pennwood Dairy Farms on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 to announce the United States Department of Agriculture’s energy efficiency programs and announced a new effort to help rural consumers make affordable, energy-efficient improvements to their homes and businesses. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

Secretary Vilsack visited the Stoltzfus’ Pennwood Dairy Farms on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 to announce the United States Department of Agriculture’s energy efficiency programs and announced a new effort to help rural consumers make affordable, energy-efficient improvements to their homes and businesses. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

On a muggy day in July, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited a Pennsylvania dairy farm that is using an anaerobic digester to convert manure into electricity and high quality bedding, cutting energy costs and providing a resting area for more contented cows.  The digester, which went on-line a year ago, was funded in part with the support of USDA Rural Development. Read more »