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Agricultural Science: More Than You Think

As we reflect in celebration of USDA’s 150th anniversary, it’s easy to take pride in the problem-solving abilities of agricultural scientists since 1862.

The challenges in America have been great, including the Dust Bowl, wars, human health threats, and attacks on crops and animals from pests. Researchers have met these challenges and will continue to do so, while enabling growers to produce abundant food that is safe to eat. Read more »

USDA 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum’s Twenty-Five Breakout Sessions Begin February 23

Following a morning plenary session featuring eight former Secretaries of Agriculture and Secretary Vilsack’s keynote speech, the USDA’s annual Outlook Forum will begin the programs breakout sessions featuring more than 80 speakers.  The sessions will focus on a broad range of topical issues related to agriculture and global food security; foreign trade, financial markets, and economic development; conservation; energy; climate change; food safety; food hubs; extension programs; and next generation farmers. Read more »

USDA Value Added Producer Grants: Turning Great Ideas into Sustainable Business

Earlier this month, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced almost 300 Value Added Producer Grant recipients across the Nation.  Each one of those recipients has a story, and a dream that, with help from USDA, will become reality. From producing pumpkin puree and gourmet cheese to expanding a caviar production operation in Idaho (Yes, Idaho), Rural Americans are using these matching grants to grow their businesses and bring high quality products to market.

Using funding provided through the USDA Value Added Producer Grant program, an Idaho producer will expand sales of gourmet caviar. Photo by Ashley Smith, Times-News staff photographer, used with permission.

Using funding provided through the USDA Value Added Producer Grant program, an Idaho producer will expand sales of gourmet caviar. Photo by Ashley Smith, Times-News staff photographer, used with permission.

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Thanks to Rural Development Support, Investment Dollars Save Jobs and Boost a South Dakota Town

The City of Murdo, South Dakota, is located at the crossroads of Interstate 90 and Highway 83 in the middle of the State.  A town with a population of 500 in a county with one person per square mile; Murdo has several new businesses and recreational activities that keeps the town thriving.

An all-volunteer Murdo Development Corporation manages a local revolving loan fund started through a USDA Rural Development Rural Business and Enterprise Grant (RBEG).  From creating jobs to helping to retain them at the local golf course to funding improvements to the local grocery store, Murdo Family Foods, the loan fund has assisted in the growth of the community. Read more »

Yes, We Have No Bananas

We left the cool warehouse with sticky shoes and smelling of spoiled bananas, but also with a warm feeling for having helped the North Texas Food Bank in Dallas ensure healthy, fresh food for their clients. Hundreds of cases of bananas had been donated, but when food bank staff checked the produce it was too spoiled to be used.  However, the sturdy produce boxes could be salvaged for further use, so 32 USDA volunteers from the Food and Nutrition Service Southwest Regional Office and USDA Risk Management Agency rolled up their sleeves to empty and then reassemble the boxes.  This was a great opportunity for us to work together with other USDA employees and see the food bank in operation first hand. The project was part of the January 12th USDA National Day of Service honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Secretary’s Column: Skills for American Workers

As America works towards an economy that’s built to last, we must make sure to provide American workers with the skills they need to compete.

If we want to build an economy that makes, creates and innovates; if we want to usher in a new era for American manufacturing and American-produced energy; our students and workers need a good education and strong training.

At USDA, one of our jobs is to help American workers learn the skills they need to be ready to take on the jobs of today and tomorrow. Read more »