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Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 8/9/12

U.S corn areas located in drought.

U.S corn areas located in drought. (Click to enlarge)

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

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor, valid August 7, indicates that the percentage of corn and soybeans in drought remains relatively stable.  However, corn and soybeans in the most two serious drought categories (D3 to D4, or extreme to exceptional drought) continue to rise sharply.  Approximately 87% of the U.S. corn is within an area experiencing drought, down from a peak of 89% on July 24.  Similarly, 85% of the U.S. soybeans are in a drought area, down from a high of 88% on July 24.  During the three-week period ending August 7, corn in extreme to exceptional drought nearly quadrupled, from 14 to 53%, while soybeans in the two worst drought categories (D3 or D4) more than tripled from 16 to 50%. Read more »

It Takes a County … to Help Feed Families!

In small rural communities like Cedar County, Iowa it takes many people wearing different hats to coordinate a successful food drive effort. This group gleaned for the Bread of Life Food Pantry to help support USDA’s Feds Feed Families campaign.

In small rural communities like Cedar County, Iowa it takes many people wearing different hats to coordinate a successful food drive effort. This group gleaned for the Bread of Life Food Pantry to help support USDA’s Feds Feed Families campaign.

USDA employees at the Tipton Service Center in Iowa are making impressive contributions to this year’s Feds Feed Families campaign. USDA Rural Development employee Mike Boyle reported food donations exceeding 750 pounds for the month of June and 1,760 pounds in July – just a portion of what is expected to be distributed throughout Tipton and surrounding eastern Iowa communities as part of the food drive this summer. Read more »

Residents of Pennsylvania’s Shenandoah Borough are Relieved that a New USDA-funded Police Cruiser is On the Way

Shenandoah Patrolman Kirk Kirkland stands in front of his police cruiser in front of Borough Hall. An $18,240 Rural Development Community Facilities Economic Impact Initiative grant will help the Borough purchase a new four-wheel drive police cruiser to better serve the rural residents of Shenandoah.

Shenandoah Patrolman Kirk Kirkland stands in front of his police cruiser in front of Borough Hall. An $18,240 Rural Development Community Facilities Economic Impact Initiative grant will help the Borough purchase a new four-wheel drive police cruiser to better serve the rural residents of Shenandoah.

With a new four-wheel drive police vehicle on the way to Pennsylvania’s rural Shenandoah Borough, local residents can rest assured that they will have a reliable emergency response vehicle as cold weather approaches.  Congressman Tim Holden and USDA Rural Development State Director Thomas Williams visited the borough hall recently to make the official announcement. Read more »

The Building Blocks of Farmers Markets

A design concept for the outside of Michigan’s indoor/outdoor market arena.  After developing a design concept, Fidel Delgado, AMS Architect, provides cost estimates and a feasibility assessment.

A design concept for the outside of Michigan’s indoor/outdoor market arena. After developing a design concept, Fidel Delgado, AMS Architect, provides cost estimates and a feasibility assessment.

Farmers markets are evolving.  They are moving away from seasonal, parking lot produce stands and becoming year-round, self-sustaining, community hubs.  As more and more cities and communities look for ways to strengthen their local economies, we’ve seen more emphasis placed on both the infrastructure and the actual structure of their farmers markets.  That’s where I come in. Read more »

Feed the Future: Together We Can

This week, USDA was honored to join forces with USAID and Islamic Relief USA to host the department’s 4th annual Iftar celebration. The event welcomed over 170 guests, including representatives from humanitarian organizations, faith-based groups and federal employees.  This year’s Iftar called attention to the importance of reducing food insecurity abroad with the theme “Feed the Future: Together We Can.” Iftar is an evening gathering held each year during Ramadan.  A time of spiritual cleansing in the Islamic faith, Ramadan is when Muslims fast, abstaining from food and water from sunrise until sunset. Iftar is the meal at which Muslims break their fast each night. For many Muslims, fasting is an act of empathy towards those around the world who go hungry not by choice, but instead by circumstance.

USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, speaks about Feed the Future

USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, speaks about Feed the Future

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Small Ohio Producers First to Reap Benefits of Interstate Shipment

This morning at  the Ohio Grown: Local Food Creating Local Opportunities conference at The Ohio State University, I had the pleasure of announcing that Ohio is the first state to join the interstate meat shipment program created by the 2008 Farm Bill. The program provides an opportunity for state-inspected meat and poultry processors to ship their products across state lines, helping these small businesses access new markets.

Before, state-inspected meat facilities like these were limited to selling their products within the state. This new program ensures that they meet federal food safety standards, which will be administered by state food inspectors and agriculture officials and overseen by USDA.  Several small meat processors in Ohio plan to lead the way as the first state-inspected facilities in the country to take advantage of the program.

For example, Ben Fligner, owner of Great Lakes Smoked Meats in Lorain, is proud to be able to expand a business that produces 35 varieties of fully-cooked smoked meat products like andouille sausage, kielbasa, bratwurst and knackwurst. Read more »