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September: A Nice Time to Celebrate Rice Research

Glenn Buffkin, store manager of Mayflower Foods with a special display of rice products

Glenn Buffkin, store manager of Mayflower Foods, Stuttgart, Arkansas, presents a special display of rice products to celebrate National Rice Month.

September is National Rice Month, and the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, Arkansas, is well positioned—literally and figuratively—to support the production, harvest, and public enjoyment of this versatile and nutritious grain. And on the world-food security front, ARS’ Stuttgart center is closing in on genes that regulate rice’s uptake and storage of iron, thiamine and other important vitamins and minerals—a pursuit that could bolster the nutritional value of this cereal grain crop as a staple food for roughly half the world’s population.

In the United States, nearly 85 percent of the rice eaten by consumers is grown on family-run farms across six States:  Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas. Of these, Arkansas produces about half of all U.S. rice on nearly 1.3 million acres of cropland. Read more »

Working Together to Develop Local Strategies for Strong Rural Communities

The USDA and Smart Growth America team touring the historic Greer Mill

In preparation for the workshop in Alton, Missouri, the USDA and Smart Growth America team tours the historic Greer Mill, which is being revitalized as an educational facility and event space through a partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and the nonprofit Friends of Eleven Point River.

How will decisions about where we locate new development or upgrade existing infrastructure impact our future economic vitality and fiscal health?  How can we site and plan public facilities and housing so they have the greatest benefits for our community?  How can we rebound from years of population loss?  How can we capitalize on our unique history to become the kind of place we want to be in the future?  These were some of Alton, Missouri’s residents’ many questions Smart Growth America addressed during a recent USDA Rural Development supported technical assistance workshop.

During my visit to Alton, I was amazed at this small town’s vision, energy, and commitment to revitalizing its economy and improving the lives of its 870 residents.  Local leaders are bringing life back to their downtown by improving the built environment and hosting cultural events, developing the regional food system, strengthening tourism to nearby National Forests and beautiful rivers, and more.  However, I’ve seen rural communities with similar dreams fall short of their goals due to a lack of technical expertise, local capacity, financing, and partnerships.  That’s why USDA is working with Smart Growth America to bring innovative solutions, funding ideas, and insights from their experiences around the nation to communities who want a brighter future. Read more »

Meet Candice and James: The Newest Real-Life Family in the #MyPlateMyWins Video Series

Candice, husband James, and their two-year-old son

The MyPlate, MyWins video series shows how real families make healthy eating work for them. Meet pregnant mom Candice, husband James, and their two-year-old son in the newest video.

Every family is unique, and when it comes to healthy eating, it’s important to find solutions that work for you. The MyPlate, MyWins video series features real-life families sharing their tips for success. In the newest video, Candice & James share how they plan healthy meals involving their two-year old son. For this growing family, preparing ahead is key. Read more »

USDA Market News – As Diverse as the Agricultural Landscape

Cage-free hen and eggs

Cage-free hen and eggs. As the agricultural landscape evolves to meet consumer demand, USDA Market News ensures that emerging sectors—like the cage-free egg market—have the data they need to succeed. Photo courtesy of the Oregon State Department of Agriculture.

As the agricultural landscape evolves to meet consumer demand, USDA Market News works to ensure that emerging sectors have the unbiased, reliable data they need to succeed in the marketplace.

USDA Market News – administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – provides data that serves as the information lifeline for America’s agricultural economy.  Everyone in the ag supply chain is accustomed to visiting Market News for items like current wholesale and retail prices for beef cuts, but here at AMS we offer so much more. Read more »

Hoop House Grows Healthy Food, Combat Diabetes in a Nevada Food Desert

NACR&DC members posing with Reno-Sparks Indian Colony teens in hoop house

NACR&DC members pose with Reno-Sparks Indian Colony teens to celebrate the finished product.

Squeals of excitement and laughter competed with the sounds of power saws, drills and hammers at the Hungry Valley Child Care Center in Sparks, Nevada, as Reno-Sparks Indian Colony (RSIC) teens were handed power tools for the first time in their lives to assist with building a hoop house.

As part of their life skills learning, the teens helped members of the National Association of Resource Conservation & Development Councils (NARC&DC) who were attending their national conference in Reno, erect a 14’ x 26’ hoop house, with guidance from University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program staff and assistance from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Read more »

Providing Rural Housing Assistance for Louisiana Flood Survivors

Lafayette Area Technician Dianne Robert and her son, Elijah

Lafayette Area Technician Dianne Robert and her son, Elijah, help package food and supplies at their local shelter.

Last month, many parts of Southern Louisiana were faced with disastrous flooding that submerged thousands of homes and businesses and also resulted in 13 reported deaths. The flood has been called the worst U.S. natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Seeing homes where families have spent their entire lives destroyed along with gutted furniture piled on neighborhood sidewalks is truly heartbreaking.  While distressing, I do believe that through the strength of the community, Louisiana will continue to rebuild and move forward.  I am most proud to see residents working together each day after such a tragedy.  Some of the USDA Rural Development (RD) Louisiana staff members have volunteered their time with the American Red Cross at local shelters or have helped clean out their neighbors’ damaged homes.  Despite the devastation, these RD staff volunteers have approached this work in a positive and kind-hearted manner. Read more »