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A Virtual Roundtable to Bring the StrikeForce Initiative to New Communities

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) StrikeForce Initiative Director Max Finberg listen to StrikeForce Initiative Beneficiary Colorado farmer Carol Baker Olguin discuss the benefits she and her family received through the USDA StrikeForce program during a Google+ Hangout at USDA in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Jun. 17, 2013.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) StrikeForce Initiative Director Max Finberg listen to StrikeForce Initiative Beneficiary Colorado farmer Carol Baker Olguin discuss the benefits she and her family received through the USDA StrikeForce program during a Google+ Hangout at USDA in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Jun. 17, 2013.

Every day, USDA provides assistance to help grow American agriculture and increase opportunities for rural communities. Unfortunately, 90 percent of America’s persistent poverty counties are in rural America.

Earlier this year, we launched the StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity, which targets rural areas of persistent poverty where USDA staff work with state, local and community officials to increase awareness of programs, target resources and leverage partnerships to promote economic development and job creation.  The initiative is now operating in sixteen states in the Southeast, Southwest, Great Plains and Alaska. As I travel the country, I am heartened to learn of the impact StrikeForce programs have had in these communities and hear stories from the people who have benefitted. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: A Food Farm and Jobs Bill to Grow Local and Regional Markets

This week, the U.S. Senate acted in bipartisan spirit to approve the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act – a balanced, comprehensive bill that will drive continued growth in rural America.  The House of Representatives now has another important opportunity to stand with rural America and pass their version of a bill.

People often call this the Farm Bill – but it’s much more than that. This is a conservation bill. It’s a trade promotion bill. It’s an innovation bill. It’s a jobs bill.

And it’s a bill that will help continue a tremendous increase in markets for locally-grown foods. This includes creating more farmers markets, building additional regional food hubs and strengthening farm-to-institution programs. Read more »

Buzz Over to the #PollinatorWeek Festival

 

Celebrate at the Pollinator Week Festival on June 21 at USDA Headquarters. (Photo credit: 2013 Pollinator Week logo courtesy of Pollinator Partnership)

Celebrate at the Pollinator Week Festival on June 21 at USDA Headquarters. (Photo credit: 2013 Pollinator Week logo courtesy of Pollinator Partnership)

How do pollinators affect your life? Well, if you’ve ever eaten a blueberry, chocolate bar or tomato, then you owe a big thank you to a small pollinator. Pollinators are birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, small mammals, and most importantly, bees. They are responsible for pollinating one out of every three bites of food we eat. But these invaluable creatures are facing declines. That’s why USDA agencies, other federal departments and partners share knowledge and collaborate on efforts to help increase awareness and tackle challenges facing pollinators.  Read more »

You’re Invited: Secretary Vilsack Hosts Google+ Hangout on StrikeForce Opportunities

On Monday, Jun. 17, 2013, you are invited to join Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as he sits down to his very first Google+ Hangout to discuss opportunities available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity.

On Monday, Jun. 17, 2013, you are invited to join Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as he sits down to his very first Google+ Hangout to discuss opportunities available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity.

Are you a community-based organization or farmer in a rural community that faces persistent poverty, or just someone who wants to improve life in Rural America? Do you have questions on how you can partner with USDA to take advantage of community resources and promote economic development in your community?

On Monday, June 17, you are invited to join Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as he sits down to his very first Google+ Hangout to discuss opportunities available through USDA’s StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity. The Secretary will discuss USDA’s work to date and how YOUR community can get involved. We’ve assembled a panel of experts with different perspectives to help provide guidance and best practices for partnering with USDA – whether you want to apply for programs and services, or want to help communities and individuals benefit from available assistance. Read more »

Interpreting Data to Modernize Food Safety: Meet Dr. Joanna Zablotsky Kufel

Dr. Joanna Zablotsky Kufel discovered community and public health at Tufts University in Massachusetts. Afterwards, she worked in public health for a couple of years and then moved to Baltimore, Md., where she earned her Masters in 2003 and Ph.D. in 2009 at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “After learning all about food safety at the state and local level, I still wanted to learn more about food safety at the federal level, where you can influence food safety throughout the entire food chain,” said Dr. Zablotsky Kufel.

Dr. Zablotsky Kufel began her career with USDA as a summer intern working for the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS). Today she works as a Public Health Food Safety Analyst with FSIS, analyzing data from across FSIS gathered by inspectors in the field, and partner agencies to evaluate FSIS policies and performance. The analyses performed and reports produced allow FSIS to effectively use science and data to understand foodborne illness and emerging trends, respond to those risks and ensure that food safety inspection aligns with decreasing those risks. Read more »

Bringing Rural America Home to the Hills of the South Dakota Prairie

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rural Housing Service (RUS) Administrator Tammye Treviño visit to South Dakota to co-chair a StrikeForce meeting in Sisseton, SD, attend a Housing Fair, and visit homes and facilities financed by USDA, Rural Development (RD) as part of National Homeownership Month, on Monday, June 3, 2013. USDA photo by Tammi Schone.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rural Housing Service (RUS) Administrator Tammye Treviño visit to South Dakota to co-chair a StrikeForce meeting in Sisseton, SD, attend a Housing Fair, and visit homes and facilities financed by USDA, Rural Development (RD) as part of National Homeownership Month, on Monday, June 3, 2013. USDA photo by Tammi Schone.

With great pleasure, South Dakota hosted Tammye Trevino, USDA Rural Development’s Administrator for Housing and Community Facilities, as she began the Agency’s Homeownership Month tour in Sisseton, S.D.  Her news about USDA’s initiatives and welcoming spirit of collaboration and forward-thinking were very encouraging and much appreciated by all! Read more »