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USDA Aids Construction, Refurbishes Apartments for Elderly Wisconsin Residents

Construction is underway with a goal to substantially upgrade senior housing in three communities in rural Wisconsin.  Funding support is provided in part through the USDA Community Facilities Program.

Construction is underway with a goal to substantially upgrade senior housing in three communities in rural Wisconsin. Funding support is provided in part through the USDA Community Facilities Program.

For residents of three senior care centers in western Wisconsin, the time has come to say “good-bye” to shared living spaces, shared bathrooms and double corridors; and say “hello” to private rooms, large, private bathrooms, and neighborhood designs.  Through new construction, Baldwin Care Center, Glenhaven, and Colfax Health & Rehabilitation Center are providing more of the comforts of home in a statewide push to modernize senior living.  Funding for all three projects comes from USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program, and AgStar Financial Services. Read more »

MyPlate Helps More Consumers Build a Healthy Plate with Social Media

Facebook page by Sasha Bard, MS, RD. Interest in the MyPlate Facebook page grew rapidly with more than 1,000 followers on the first day. Facebook page by Sasha Bard, MS, RD.

Interest in the MyPlate Facebook page grew rapidly with more than 1,000 followers on the first day. Facebook page by Sasha Bard, MS, RD.

MyPlate is using the power of Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter to make it easier for consumers to find simple science-based and practical guidance in many forms to help consumers eat healthier and live healthier.  These social media platforms reach broad audiences and can now direct users to the wealth of consumer-friendly content supporting the MyPlate icon.

“Through social media, USDA can reach people where they need to make food decisions  – on-the-go, in stores, at restaurants, and at home — and provide timely tips and information that can be shared with family and friends.” – Dr. Robert Post, Associate Executive Director of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Read more »

U.S. Ag Products Make Their Mark in the Middle East

U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Michael Corbin (second from left) and Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Administrator Sue Heinen cut a ceremonial ribbon during the opening ceremony for the USA pavilion at the 2013 Gulfood trade show as Consul General Rob Waller (far left) and the USA pavilion organizers exhibitors look on.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Michael Corbin (second from left) and Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Administrator Sue Heinen cut a ceremonial ribbon during the opening ceremony for the USA pavilion at the 2013 Gulfood trade show as Consul General Rob Waller (far left) and the USA pavilion organizers exhibitors look on.

Recently, I traveled to the Middle East to meet with local and U.S. Embassy leaders to discuss agricultural strategy within the region. Towards the end of my two-week journey, I also had the opportunity to meet with U.S. agricultural companies, state regional trade groups and cooperators at the USDA-endorsed Gulfood trade show in Dubai.

The show is the Middle East’s largest food, drink, food service and hospitality equipment exhibition, drawing buyers from throughout the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) helps U.S. companies market their food and agricultural products at international trade shows through market development programs such as the Market Access Program (MAP). Read more »

Innovative i-Tree Spreads Worldwide

This is the logo for i-Tree, a suite of urban analysis tools utilized by city foresters in the U.S. The U.S. Forest Service is releasing the latest i-Tree version 5.0 allows upgrading to rapidly assess urban trees and forests throughout Canada and Australia, two of the countries leading i-Tree’s international expansion.

This is the logo for i-Tree, a suite of urban analysis tools utilized by city foresters in the U.S. The U.S. Forest Service is releasing the latest i-Tree version 5.0 allows upgrading to rapidly assess urban trees and forests throughout Canada and Australia, two of the countries leading i-Tree’s international expansion.

When Dave Nowak of the U.S. Forest Service and Scott Maco of Davey Tree Expert Company began collaborating on the creation of a suite of urban forest analysis tools called i-Tree, they imagined that users would be mostly city foresters from the United States.

Inspired by users from 105 countries, the latest version, 5.0, is upgraded to rapidly assess urban trees and forests throughout Canada and Australia, two of the countries leading the free software’s international expansion. One of the major updates is the addition of a new web form that allows the use of smartphones and tablets. Read more »

Texas High Tunnels Boost Production Possibilities for Urban Farmers

Elvis d’Agrella visits with some of his regular weekly customers at the Conroe farmers market. Customers are welcome to fill small white buckets with an assortment of fruits and vegetables for an average cost of $4.

Elvis d’Agrella visits with some of his regular weekly customers at the Conroe farmers market. Customers are welcome to fill small white buckets with an assortment of fruits and vegetables for an average cost of $4.

‘Valley Girl’ and ‘Celebrity’ are just two of the sought-after tomato varieties sold at Elvis d’Agrella’s farmer’s market stand in the summer. And now his weekly customers can purchase those tomatoes well into the winter, because he and his wife, Pat, have constructed a seasonal high tunnel at their PEAS Farm outside Conroe, Tex.

“Our goal was to produce as much of the vegetables that you see here growing in the winter time that you would normally see growing in the summertime,” says Elvis. Read more »

FSA Loans Lend a Hand to California Farmer

Sam Pesina has grown his peach and sugar cane farm with the help of FSA loans.

Sam Pesina has grown his peach and sugar cane farm with the help of FSA loans.

Family adversity brought Sam Pesina back home to his family’s Fresno County, Calif., farm.  But it was the love of farming that kept him.

“When my dad got bone marrow cancer, there was never any question that I would return home,” said Pesina. “My dad wouldn’t have trusted anyone else [to run the farm].” So he packed his bags, glanced back at the 12 years he spent in Hawaii working in finance and starting his own mortgage brokerage company, and headed back to Orange Cove to care for his father and the farm he grew up on. Read more »