Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

USDA Official Highlights Federal Programs That Help Create Jobs, Provide Access to Capital in Washington and Oregon

“Show me the money.”  You have heard that phrase, right? Made famous by the 1996 film  Jerry Maguire, we have all probably heard it said a thousand times, and yet, the phrase remains just as valid today.

Owners of rural businesses are asking the same question because finding capital is a major challenge for those who wish to grow and expand, and Lillian Salerno, USDA’s top business development official, met with various business leaders and owners in the Pacific Northwest to offer assistance on job creation and economic growth efforts. Read more »

Join the Conversation on Smart Snacks in Schools

School lunch staff and students enjoy the new school lunch menu created to meet the new standards at the Yorkshire Elementary School in Manassas, VA on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

School lunch staff and students enjoy the new school lunch menu created to meet the new standards at the Yorkshire Elementary School in Manassas, VA on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

USDA recently announced its “Smart Snacks in School” proposal that will help to ensure all foods and beverages sold in schools contribute to a healthy diet. The proposal offers a common sense approach to healthy eating by promoting the availability of snack foods with whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables or protein foods as their main ingredients, while preserving time-honored school traditions like occasional bake sales and birthday treats.

Parents and teachers work hard to instill healthy habits, and our proposal reinforces that hard work by ensuring that kids are offered only tasty, nutritious food options at school. Thanks to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, this year students across the country began getting healthier school meals with more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy based on scientific recommendations for nutrition. Through the Act, Congress also directed USDA to set nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, including vending machines, school snack bars and a la carte, as a complement to the new, healthy standards for breakfast and lunch. Read more »

USDA Land-Grant Development/Tribal Fellowship Program accepting Applications

From June first through the eighth, USDA will host faculty and staff from the 32 land-grant tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) that work in the areas of agriculture, conservation, science, or community development to participate in the USDA Land-Grant Development/Tribal Fellowship Program, a key component of the Terra Preta do Indio Tribal Fellowship Suite.  The USDA 1994 Tribal Land-Grant Colleges and Universities Program office works with land-grant TCUs to develop their land-grant capacities and rural tribal economies to ensure the US’ food security. In order to achieve this mission, the Department offers accepted applicants a Tribal Fellowship, a one-week intensive workshop which includes the cost of travel, lodging, and per diem.

Over the course of the workshop, Fellows learn about programs and resources available throughout USDA and where and how to access them. They have an opportunity to exchange ideas with their colleagues, ask questions of specialists, and to consider which of the resources discussed might benefit their institutions. Fellows apply their knowledge by developing or revisiting their strategic plan to address the needs of their 1994 tribal land-grant college in the areas of agriculture, conservation, and the development of their rural communities – in collaboration with their institutions tribal community and with support from our staff and USDA service centers. Read more »

Open Call to Innovators: Apply to present at G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture

Cross posted from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy blog:

In an exciting opportunity, the G-8 is inviting innovators to apply to present ideas that demonstrate how open data can be unleashed to increase food security at the G-8 International Conference on Open Data in Agriculture on April 29-30, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Open data is being used by innovators and entrepreneurs around the world to accelerate development, whether it be tracking election transparency in Kenya or providing essential information to rural farmers in Uganda.  The G-8 conference will convene policy makers, thought leaders, food security stakeholders, and data experts to discuss the role of public, agriculturally-relevant data in increasing food security and to build a strategy to spur innovation by making agriculture data more accessible.  As part of the conference, selected applicants will be invited to showcase  innovative uses of open data for food security in either a Lightning Presentation (a 3-5 minute, image-rich presentation on the first day of the conference) or in the Exhibit Hall (an image-rich exhibit on display throughout the two-day conference). Read more »

Regreening Baltimore

Baltimore’s Oliver Neighborhood is a mix of occupied and abandoned rowhouses. The U.S. Forest Service is working with partners to host the Carbon Challenge green building design contest, promoting sustainable and livable neighborhoods in Baltimore and Providence, R.I. (L.F. Chambers, U.S. Forest Service photo)

Baltimore’s Oliver Neighborhood is a mix of occupied and abandoned rowhouses. The U.S. Forest Service is working with partners to host the Carbon Challenge green building design contest, promoting sustainable and livable neighborhoods in Baltimore and Providence, R.I. (L.F. Chambers, U.S. Forest Service photo)

Depending on who you talk to, there are between 16,000 and 20,000 vacant homes in Baltimore. Once a mid-20th century boomtown where residents built the liberty ships and liberator bombers that helped win World War II, the middle-class dreams of this city have been in a decades-long decline. Entire blocks stand empty, lifeless veneers of boarded windows and burnt-out roofs.

But the U.S. Forest Service is working to help change that, promoting livable and workable buildings for 21st-Century occupants, while retaining the vibrant culture and community that once characterized these streets. Read more »

USDA Staff Participates in South Dakota Native Entrepreneurs Fair

Attendees at the South Dakota Tribal Entrepreneurship Fair: left to right Rural Development Specialist Sherrie Lewis, Flo Hare - EDA Director for Yankton Sioux Tribe, and Rural Development Area Director Trace Davids. USDA photo.

Attendees at the South Dakota Tribal Entrepreneurship Fair: left to right Rural Development Specialist Sherrie Lewis, Flo Hare - EDA Director for Yankton Sioux Tribe, and Rural Development Area Director Trace Davids. USDA photo.

Thirty-five participants, consisting of native entrepreneurs and organizations that provide services to entrepreneurs attended the first ever Entrepreneur Fair (E-Fair) held in Pickstown, South Dakota earlier this month.

The E-Fair was co-hosted by the South Dakota Indian Business Alliance (SDIBA) and Yankton Sioux Economic Development Department (YSEDD); providing time and resources into making the day a reality.  The purpose of the fair was to encourage, support, educate, and provide networking opportunities for the native entrepreneurs of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Read more »