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Making a House a Home – A Labor of Love

First time homeowner, 76 year old Carol McCormack Arentz with Tom Fern, State Director for USDA Rural Development in Kentucky. USDA photo.

First time homeowner, 76 year old Carol McCormack Arentz with Tom Fern, State Director for USDA Rural Development in Kentucky. USDA photo.

June is Homeownership Month.  Today we are sharing a first person account of a 76-year old Kentucky resident who used USDA’s home loan program to purchase her first home.  She submitted this account through the USDA Rural Development Kentucky State Office and we are sharing it so that others who are interested will better understand the steps that must be taken before closing. USDA has helped rural residents purchase homes since 1949. Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA Direct and Guaranteed home loan programs have helped more than 650,000 rural residents buy houses.   Each buyer has a story.  Here is one of them. Read more »

Before You Toss Food, Wait. Check It Out!

It’s happened to all of us: you’re looking for something in the freezer or pantry, and discover food that has been forgotten. Your first impulse is to throw it out, but wait!  Is it still good? Chances are it is!

Food poisoning bacteria does not grow in the freezer, so no matter how long a food is frozen, it is safe to eat. Foods that have been in the freezer for months (recommended freezer times chart) may be dry, or may not taste as good, but they will be safe to eat. So if you find a package of ground beef that has been in the freezer more than a few months, don’t throw it out. Use it to make chili or tacos. The seasonings and additional ingredients can make up for loss of flavor. Read more »

Virginia State University’s (VSU) Small Farm Outreach Program Offers Education Sessions to Increase Opportunity for Rural Businesses

In support of Secretary Vilsack’s implementation of President Obama’s agenda to put Americans back to work and create an economy built to last, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) in collaboration with Virginia State University’s (VSU) Small Farm Outreach Program will host Rural Small Business Connections.  This training event will provide small businesses with a series of educational networking sessions and opportunities on how to build capacity and successfully do business with USDA and other Federal agencies. Read more »

Scientists Discover Gene to Combat Devastating Wheat Rust

USDA scientists and their partners have found a molecular tool that will help control wheat stem rust, a fungal disease threatening much of the world’s wheat supply.

First reported in 1999 in Uganda, wheat stem rust–caused by the Ug99 pathogen–is a devastating disease in several countries in Africa and the Middle East where losses can be up to 70 percent. Many experts predict this specific strain could spread rapidly, causing a wheat shortage affecting food security worldwide. Ninety percent of the wheat grown worldwide is susceptible, so if no preventive action is taken, it could cause wheat shortages and affect food security. Read more »

StrikeForce Partnership Fighting Hunger in Virginia

Food and Nutrition Undersecretary Kevin Concannon (kneeling) and RD RBS Administrator, Lillian Salerno (far left) share a funny moment with two young men participating in this year's FNS Summer Feeding Program.

Food and Nutrition Undersecretary Kevin Concannon (kneeling) and RD RBS Administrator, Lillian Salerno (far left) share a funny moment with two young men participating in this year's FNS Summer Feeding Program.

USDA in Virginia is forging partnerships this summer to ensure that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Under the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) based program, free, nutritious meals are provided to all kids 18 years old and under at approved sites in areas with significant concentrations of low-income children.

The Food and Nutrition Service’s Summer Food Service Program has found an ally in its fight against childhood hunger with its partnership with USDA Rural Development Multi Family Housing Program to help get the word out about the problem of summer nutrition. With over 270 Multi Family complexes located across Virginia, some of which are in persistent poverty counties, this relationship has the potential to benefit many children statewide.  Over 30 kids enjoyed a healthy and nutritious meal at the Sandston Woods Multi Family Housing Apartment Complex on June 25th to kick off the program. Read more »

Buried Alive: The Petrifying True Story of a Forest Turned to Stone

A fossilized tree stump on the Gallatin National Forest. The stump is part of a huge forest that was buried in a volcanic eruption 50 million years ago. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

A fossilized tree stump on the Gallatin National Forest. The stump is part of a huge forest that was buried in a volcanic eruption 50 million years ago. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Imagine nearing the remote, rugged crest of the Gallatin Range in Montana’s Gallatin National Forest. As you scramble up-slope, you put your hand against what appears to be a lightning-blasted stump for balance. But the stump is not weather-polished wood—it’s made of stone.

These are the 50-million-year-old remains of redwoods, pines and sycamores which make up the Gallatin Petrified Forest, where fossilized tree trunks are preserved in so much detail that cellular structures may be seen under a microscope and growth rings are often visible to the naked eye. But how did these trees turn to stone? Read more »