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USDA Seeks Applicants for Loan Funds to Create Rural Jobs

Applications are being accepted starting today from qualified non-profit and public organizations (intermediaries) to provide loans to create jobs by promoting new business development. Funding will be made available through USDA’s Intermediary Relending Program (IRP). Intermediaries work as partners with USDA and serve as a critical component to boosting local economies.

The Intermediary Relending Program is USDA Rural Development’s primary program for capitalizing revolving loan funds. Since President Obama took office, the program has created or saved an estimated 20,000 jobs nationwide. Read more »

The Cotton Patch – Where Innovation and Teamwork Fuel Growth

It’s amazing what can happen when you combine a great idea, commitment to community, love of agriculture, fresh air, good earth, and energized volunteers.  In the Cotton and Tobacco Programs, a part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, we found this to be the perfect combination to cultivate our own People’s Garden – the Cotton Patch.

The People’s Garden initiative brings USDA employees and more than 700 local and national organizations together to create community and school gardens inspiring locally-led solutions to some of the challenges facing our country – from hunger to the environment.

Here in Memphis, creating the Cotton Patch was a collaborative series of fortunate events that began when employees from our local office requested to overhaul the facility’s landscaping and create our own People’s Garden. Read more »

Former Football Player Turns Conservation Assistance into Bottled Gold in Texas

The husband and wife team of Alphonse and Martha Dotson have created a bottled masterpiece, Gotas de Oro, “drops of gold.” Photo by Jaime Tankersley, NRCS Texas.

The husband and wife team of Alphonse and Martha Dotson have created a bottled masterpiece, Gotas de Oro, “drops of gold.” Photo by Jaime Tankersley, NRCS Texas.

A former professional football player was able to realize a life-long dream of owning his own vineyard with the help of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Read more »

Biting Down on the Origin of a Tooth

A Tyrannosaurus Rex tooth found by Barb Beasley during a 2012 Passport in Time excavation in the Late Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation on the Custer National Forest in South Dakota on June 22, 2012. Unlike mammals that only possess two sets of teeth during their lifetime, dinosaurs replaced worn teeth by shedding them continuously throughout their lives. A single Tyrannosaurus may have shed hundreds or even thousands of teeth during its lifetime. U.S. Forest Service photo by Rhonda Fore.

A Tyrannosaurus Rex tooth found by Barb Beasley during a 2012 Passport in Time excavation in the Late Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation on the Custer National Forest in South Dakota on June 22, 2012. Unlike mammals that only possess two sets of teeth during their lifetime, dinosaurs replaced worn teeth by shedding them continuously throughout their lives. A single Tyrannosaurus may have shed hundreds or even thousands of teeth during its lifetime. U.S. Forest Service photo by Rhonda Fore.

The big female sniffed at the dry Late Cretaceous air as she trotted – delicately, considering her 7-ton frame – along a game trail through a stand of towering conifers, whose needled lower branches trembled slightly at her passing. Read more »

Doing the Farm to School Math

This spring the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is tallying up the number of schools buying from local and regional producers.

This spring the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is tallying up the number of schools buying from local and regional producers. Photo credit: Lindsay Morris

Crisscrossing the country, from Maine to California, and from Florida to Washington, farm to school programs exist from coast to coast in small, rural towns and large, urban metropolitan areas alike. We know school cafeterias are brimming with local and regionally sourced foods, giving kids more opportunity than ever to understand where their food comes from.  Read more »

Moving Harper’s Beauty Off Road

Harper’s beauty is a perennial lily with a solitary yellow flower and iris-like leaves and is listed as federally endangered (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Harper’s beauty is a perennial lily with a solitary yellow flower and iris-like leaves and is listed as federally endangered (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The first week of March found a team of plant biologists down on their knees in a highway right-of-way in the Florida Panhandle searching for Harper’s beauty, one of Florida’s rarest native plants. Read more »