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Secretary’s Column: A Magnet for Jobs

This week, in his State of the Union Address, President Obama laid out his plan to make America a magnet for jobs in the generations to come, and further strengthen the middle class.   He stressed that in the wealthiest nation on earth, we must build up ladders of opportunity – to ensure that folks who work hard and play by the rules have a chance to get ahead.

The values the President spoke of in his address are shared by many across rural America. Our farmers, ranchers, rural businesses and families are committed to the value of hard work.  They agree that we owe today’s young people the opportunity to get ahead. They know that we must continue working to alleviate rural poverty to build up the middle class across our nation.

The President’s first priority is to make America a magnet for jobs – and when it comes to job creation, there’s no place like rural America. Read more »

Freezers Full of Summer

Straight from the freezer to students’ lunch trays, schools are finding ways to serve local berries all year long.  Photo credit: Deborah Kane

Straight from the freezer to students’ lunch trays, schools are finding ways to serve local berries all year long. Photo credit: Deborah Kane

It’s February and, as tends to happen every year, I’m starting to run low on frozen berries. It seems the hours upon hours I spent this summer freezing the season’s bounty weren’t enough to satisfy my family’s endless demand for berry smoothies. Every year I vow to put more berries away for use in the winter. I suspect this summer will be no exception; I’ll take the pledge again. Read more »

Who Has the Best Tasting Water in Rural America?

USDA Acting Administrator John Padalino (second from left)  along with panel of judges at Great American Water Taste Test. Photo courtesy of the National Rural Water Association. Used with permission.

USDA Acting Administrator John Padalino (second from left) along with panel of judges at Great American Water Taste Test. Photo courtesy of the National Rural Water Association. Used with permission.

And the winner … the city of Prairie du Sac in southern Wisconsin for having the best tasting water in rural America.  Earlier this week, at the National Rural Water Association’s Water Rally, Prairie du Sac won the coveted gold medal as part of the Great American Water Taste Test.

USDA Rural Utilities Service Acting Administrator John Padalino served on the judging panel. Padalino administers USDA water and environmental programs. Read more »

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue – Some Valentine Stats Pulled Just for You

Infographic (click to see larger version) highlighting Valentine’s Day stats and figures.

Infographic (click to see larger version) highlighting Valentine’s Day stats and figures.

It’s February 14th and love is in the air. This year more than half of us – nearly 60 percent according to the National Retail Federation – will celebrate Valentine’s Day in many different ways.  But what do you get that special someone?

If you need some ideas, you may not need to look any further than your local newspaper.  According to USDA Market News, which tracks market prices and trends, stores and retailers offer help by featuring some holiday favorites—roses, steak, lobster and strawberries—in their sale ads the week before the big day. Read more »

Ambassadors of Cheese

Rogue Creamery representatives display some of their popular cheeses during a 2011 international trade show in Hong Kong. The Oregon company credits the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Market Access Program (MAP) and industry partners for helping the company expand international sales of its award-winning cheeses. (Courtesy Photo)

Rogue Creamery representatives display some of their popular cheeses during a 2011 international trade show in Hong Kong. The Oregon company credits the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Market Access Program (MAP) and industry partners for helping the company expand international sales of its award-winning cheeses. (Courtesy Photo)

For 80 years, Rogue Creamery has been passionate about the art of cheese making. This small company located in Oregon’s scenic Rogue River Valley produces a variety of handcrafted artisan cheeses using milk from its dairies. Its blue cheeses are considered “ambassadors” for the American Artisan and Farmstead cheese movements. Rogue Creamery credits the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Market Access Program (MAP) and industry partners for helping the company expand sales of its award-winning cheeses. Read more »

Love Your Forests All Year Long

Smokey Bear receives a bear hug from a child visiting Sims Flat Campground in the Shasta Trinity National Forest in Redding, California. (Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service, Paul Young)

Smokey Bear receives a bear hug from a child visiting Sims Flat Campground in the Shasta Trinity National Forest in Redding, California. (Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service, Paul Young)

Forests are an intricate part of our life, from the air they clean to the water they provide. So, we invite you to love your national forests. Read more »