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USDA Serving Montana Ranchers, Farmers

Ben Hofer, Rockport Colony Secretary, with a Kangal. NWRC researchers are studying the potential of these livestock guard animals for use where large predators include wolves and grizzly bear. The Kangal breed is gentle and trustworthy with their people or animals, but if the need arises they can become very protective. (USDA Photo by Under Secretary Edward Avalos)

Ben Hofer, Rockport Colony Secretary, with a Kangal. NWRC researchers are studying the potential of these livestock guard animals for use where large predators include wolves and grizzly bear. The Kangal breed is gentle and trustworthy with their people or animals, but if the need arises they can become very protective. (USDA Photo by Under Secretary Edward Avalos)

USDA plays an important and vital role in supporting rural communities throughout the country.  On my recent trip to Montana, I saw firsthand how the work, services and programs provided by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) directly impact stakeholder day-to-day operations.

After a listening session in Cut Bank, I was invited to the Rockport Colony, by Ben Hofer, the Secretary for the Hutterite community near Pendroy, Montana.  This impressive communal farming/ranching operation includes sheep, cattle, hog and poultry production, a dairy, and meat-processing facility, as well as fruit, vegetable, and grain production.  I quickly learned USDA is an important partner, providing support for water lines, fencing, and wildlife damage management. Read more »

SNAP Combats Food Insecurity, Improves Long-Term Health Outlook for Low-Income People

In the largest survey of food security and food spending among SNAP participants to date, researchers from Mathematica Policy Research found that participation in SNAP for about six months was associated with a significant decrease in food insecurity.  The study was funded through a contract from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. Infographic credit: Mathematica Policy Research. Click to enlarge image.

In the largest survey of food security and food spending among SNAP participants to date, researchers from Mathematica Policy Research found that participation in SNAP for about six months was associated with a significant decrease in food insecurity. The study was funded through a contract from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. Infographic credit: Mathematica Policy Research. Click to enlarge image.

USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is America’s first line of defense against hunger and new research released today makes it clear that SNAP improves food security, particularly among low-income children.

The study, funded by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service and conducted by researchers at Mathematica Policy Research, found that participating in SNAP for about six months corresponded with a significant decrease in food insecurity. That effect was even more pronounced in households with children. Read more »

Saluting our Veterans and their Service to America

Kentucky State Director for Rural Development, Thomas Fern, (grey suit) presents keys for new van to the Magoffin County Judge Executive and the Magoffin County Disabled American Veterans organization. USDA photo.

Kentucky State Director for Rural Development, Thomas Fern, (grey suit) presents keys for new van to the Magoffin County Judge Executive and the Magoffin County Disabled American Veterans organization. USDA photo.

Parade formations, 21-gun salutes, solemn flag presentations are all an important part of the duties carried out by our nation’s veterans and their organizations as they help us remember the fallen and show support for our current members of America’s military forces. Each have engrained in their memory the wars or battles fought to keep our nation free and to ensure we live under a true and open democracy.

Recently, I presented members of the Disabled American Veterans in Magoffin County, Ky., a set of keys to a new transport van.  Equipped with handicap accessible ramps, this van will ease the challenge of getting veterans to community events in their area.  The van also will serve as a means of transportation for area veterans needing assistance with visits to doctor appointments and medical facilities.  USDA Rural Development provided Magoffin County a grant for the purchase of this vehicle. Read more »

Farmers Markets: Teaching Kids Where Food Comes From

Farmers markets are a perfect venue for teaching children about the food they eat.  Initiatives across the country, like this People’s Garden event at the USDA Farmers Market, encourage the development of healthy eating habits at an early age.

Farmers markets are a perfect venue for teaching children about the food they eat. Initiatives across the country, like this People’s Garden event at the USDA Farmers Market, encourage the development of healthy eating habits at an early age.

“We become what we repeatedly do.” In his Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens Sean Covey used these words to help young students preparing to attend college and join the workforce, but they also apply to how children learn to eat healthy.

Through innovative programs like the Power of Produce (POP) Club, farmers markets across the country are teaching children how to make healthy eating choices. This program, started at the Oregon City Farmers Market, invites children to learn more about some of their favorite foods. Participating in events like planting sunflower seeds or making jam gives the youngsters a chance to better understand where their food comes from. By receiving $2 to spend on fresh produce every time they visit the market to keeping a log of what they buy, the children become immersed in a world of healthy eating.  Last year, 1,781 children aged 5 to 12 years old joined, resulting in 5,180 shopping trips. Read more »