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Secretary’s Column: The Importance of a Strong Safety Net

At the beginning of this New Year, we at USDA are redoubling our efforts to achieve an adequate, defensible safety net for producers, more economic opportunity through the biobased economy, safe and nutritious food for Americans, robust efforts to carry out research and greater conservation of our natural resources.

To further our efforts in these areas, I hope to work with Congress this year to secure passage of a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.

One very important part of a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is to provide a safety net for America’s producers, who face a great deal of uncertainty in their work – both from Mother Nature and market prices.  Historically, the Farm Bill authorizes USDA to provide disaster assistance for producers and step in with help when they face volatile markets. Read more »

Caddo Nation Helps Identify New Heritage Sites on Texas, Louisiana National Forests

Thinking outside the box proved to be a winning solution when the U.S. Forest Service and the Caddo Nation joined forces to investigate and identify archeological sites on national forests in Texas and Louisiana.

In 2009, Barbara Williams, heritage program manager for the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas, faced the daunting task of uncovering evidence of historic and prehistoric artifacts buried in the loamy soil of the Davy Crockett National Forest and Sabine National Forest in the deep East Texas piney woods.

So the forest reached out to the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma, whose historic homeland was in the forests of East Texas. The Tribe partners with the Southern Region for training as heritage paraprofessionals and employment on the region’s national forests. Read more »

Entrepreneurship Helps to Engage the Youth of Nebraska through the Building of a Straw Bale Business Incubator/Grocery Store

Students of the Cody-Kilgore schools and area residents are working to complete a straw-bale building, an environmentally-friendly design that uses straw as insulation. Start-up funding was provided through USDA Rural Development and matched with cash, material and sweat equity contributions. Photos courtesy of the Village of Cody.

Students of the Cody-Kilgore schools and area residents are working to complete a straw-bale building, an environmentally-friendly design that uses straw as insulation. Start-up funding was provided through USDA Rural Development and matched with cash, material and sweat equity contributions. Photos courtesy of the Village of Cody.

In Nebraska, keeping small rural communities alive and vital is a hard road.  Part of the puzzle is keeping the rural youth local and involved.  Who would think straw built construction could create the buy in needed to interest the youth?

The Village of Cody, home to 150 residents, is mostly farmers and ranchers.  Residents know that entrepreneurship is important in creating more businesses and gain jobs but how do you inspire the youth towards this concept? Read more »

Looking Back but Moving Forward, USDA Issues the Annual 2012 Rural Development Progress Report

A new year means a new outlook, a fresh beginning and an opportunity to make the new year better than the last. Here at USDA we are gearing up for all that 2013 has to offer. As we prepare for what may lie ahead, let’s take a look at some of USDA Rural Development’s most memorable accomplishments of 2012.

Check out what made our “Top 8 Accomplishments List”; Read more »

Jobs for Young Adults in the US Forest Service are Waiting

California Conservation Corps workers perform hazardous fuels thinning and are also building stream crossings, drainage structures and other trail stabilizing features to protect trails. The work also corrects existing and potential resource damage from erosion and sedimentation on existing trails.

California Conservation Corps workers perform hazardous fuels thinning and are also building stream crossings, drainage structures and other trail stabilizing features to protect trails. The work also corrects existing and potential resource damage from erosion and sedimentation on existing trails.

The Obama Administration has announced the formation of a national council to guide full implementation of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps – a national collaborative effort to put America’s youth to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America’s great outdoors.

Thousands of temporary seasonal jobs with the Forest Service and its partners are available this summer and officials say now is the time to begin the application process.

Annually, the Forest Service and its conservation partners hire over 3,000 people for summer positions that involve work such as reducing the impacts of climate change on the nation’s natural resources, empowering Native American communities, building trails, enhancing wildlife habitat, and improving and restoring cultural and historic landmarks. Read more »

Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design Seeks Proposals for Rural Communities Facing Design Challenges

Today, the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) is issuing a request for proposals to rural communities facing design challenges to host local workshops in 2013.

Successful applicants will receive a $7,000 grant and in-kind design expertise and technical assistance valued at $35,000. The Request for Proposals is on the new CIRD website: www.rural-design.org.

CIRD (formerly known as “Your Town”) works to help rural communities with populations of 50,000 or fewer enhance their quality of life and economic vitality through facilitated design workshops. The program brings together local leaders, non-profits, and community organizations with a team of specialists in design, planning, and creative place making to address challenges like strengthening economies, enhancing rural character, leveraging cultural assets, and designing efficient housing and transportation systems. Read more »