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USDA Rural Development Loan Guarantee Helps Business Maintain Equal Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

For the last 32 years, Minnesota Diversified Industries (MDI), a non-profit social enterprise, has been dedicated to providing job opportunities for people with disabilities.  Founded in 1964 by John DuRand as an Occupational Training Center, MDI transitioned into an Affirmative Business in 1978.  Company leaders wanted to provide people, specifically people with disabilities, equal opportunity employment.

MDI is an AbilityOne program through which government products and services are set aside for people with disabilities.  With locations in St. Paul, Grand Rapids, and Hibbing, MDI currently employs 131 people, 70 of which are people with disabilities. Read more »

A Michigan Community Continues to Upgrade its Water System with USDA Support

Usually when I submit a post for the Rural Development blog, the subject is an event, such as a closing, ribbon-cutting or groundbreaking ceremony.

This entry as a little different – it is a blog about another blog. Read more »

Playground Brings Smiles to Afghan Orphans

Karl Eikenberry, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan is greeted by children from the Ghazni City Orphanage

Last week, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and the Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team visited the Ghazni City orphanage to dedicate playground equipment donated by the family and friends of Steven “Tom” Stefani. Stefani was a U.S. Forest Service employee who went to Afghanistan in March 2007 to work as a USDA agricultural expert to a provincial reconstruction team in the Ghazni. His life was cut short by a roadside explosion Oct. 4 of that same year. Read more »

Time is Ticking! Final Days to Submit Your Favorite Recipe

Cross-posted from the Let’s Move! Blog:

As schools across the country entered the holiday break, we sent out a friendly reminder that the Recipes for Healthy Kids Competition is coming to a close December 30 at 5:00 p.m.  But it is not too late for teams across the country to get their winning recipes in and make a difference in the lives of millions of kids. Read more »

Holiday Food Safety Bloopers

Cross-posted from the FoodSafety.gov blog.

The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline talked to about 350 people on Thanksgiving Day about thawing, preparing and storing turkey. Most people were right on track and just needed some reassuring about handling the big bird. Some people, however, called about situations that could be disastrous – or even deadly.

Even though these problems involved turkey, the same food safety principles apply if you’re cooking ham, duck, goose or any another holiday meat. Read more »

From Ship to Shore: U.S. Soy to Benefit Afghan Families

Associate Administrator Janet Nuzum, center, with WISHH executive director Jim Hershey, left of Nuzum, ARREFF president John Fornazor, far left, and soybean producers from Virginia, Illinois and North Carolina with bags of soy flour bound for Afghanistan.

A view of the Port of Norfolk from the Virginia Port Authority’s (VPA) tenth-floor conference room. The soy flour is expected to leave the port on Dec. 23 and arrive in Afghanistan by Feb. 1.

As we approached Norfolk, Va. yesterday, we could see the big seaport cranes in the distance, hovering over neat stacks of multicolored containers. Hulking cargo ships moved in and out of the port, one of the East Coast’s busiest, collecting and carrying U.S. products to millions of consumers overseas. Truck drivers, longshoremen, port police – so many careers make up a bustling port city. Somewhere in this flurry was the container we had come to see. We found it at the facilities of ARREFF, just beyond the water’s reach in the town of Portsmouth. ARREFF is a “transloader,” a business that packs, repacks and helps to transfer U.S. products destined for foreign markets. Read more »