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USDA Farmers Market Opens with a Recipe to Honor Our Veterans

A beautiful day is forecasted for the 19th year, the USDA Farmers Market opening. The market is a another example of USDA’s commitment to supporting local and regional food systems. We hope that you will join us on Friday, June 6, at 9:30 a.m. for our opening.

A beautiful day is forecasted for the 19th year, the USDA Farmers Market opening. The market is a another example of USDA’s commitment to supporting local and regional food systems. We hope that you will join us on Friday, June 6, at 9:30 a.m. for our opening.

I love farmers markets. The vibrant colors, enticing smells, and vivacious people make me feel so very alive and happy. Local markets also work to bring communities together.  I have been to a number of farmers markets across the U.S., but my favorite one is located right here in Washington, DC—in fact, it’s right here at USDA.

My agency, the Agricultural Marketing Service, is proud to host the USDA Farmers Market each week, building connections to the vendors, customers, and surrounding community.  Tomorrow, June 6, the USDA Farmers Market opens a new season with a salute to our military, veterans and American agriculture.   We will not only celebrate the bounty of the market, but will also thank our military for serving with valor, courage, and distinction. Read more »

Preventing Disease Spread through International Collaboration

Dr. Fernando Torres, (left) APHIS Director of the Plum Island Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (FADDL), shows Under Secretary Avalos (center) and Jessica Mahalingappa (right) a sample to demonstrate one diagnostic tool that staff use at FADDL.

Dr. Fernando Torres, (left) APHIS Director of the Plum Island Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (FADDL), shows Under Secretary Avalos (center) and Jessica Mahalingappa (right) a sample to demonstrate one diagnostic tool that staff use at FADDL.

Two departments, one mission.  That’s the reality for scientists working at Plum Island Foreign Animal Disease Laboratory in New York.  The island—owned and operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—is critical to the USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) mission to protect U.S. livestock from the introduction and spread foreign animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease.  It provides a biologically safe and secure location for APHIS scientists to diagnose animal diseases.  For two weeks this spring, Plum Island was the site of an important component of our agriculture safeguarding system: sharing expertise and experience to build and strengthen the training, skills and capabilities of other nations, also known as international capacity building.

USDA and DHS welcomed 26 veterinarians responsible for evaluating animal disease outbreaks from 11 Spanish-speaking countries to a training called the International Transboundary Animal Disease (ITAD) Course, funded by the Organismo International Regional de Sanidad Agropecuaris (OIRSA).  The course, provided entirely in Spanish, helps familiarize veterinarians with ten of the most serious animal diseases. The trainings provide a highly-trained global network capable of readily identifying and containing these diseases around the world, minimizing damage to animal agriculture and people’s livelihoods. Read more »

Join A White House Rural Council Forum on Regional Food Economies; June 9, 12:45 ET

Tune in for a White House Rural Council Conversation on Local Food on Monday, June 9 at 12:45pm ET.

Tune in for a White House Rural Council Conversation on Local Food on Monday, June 9 at 12:45pm ET.

How is investing in regional food economies an investment in rural America? How can rural America benefit from the growing demand for local food?  How are local food systems supporting the economy in your town?

On Monday, June 9 at 12:45 ET, the White House Rural Council will host Regional Food Economies: Building Market Opportunities for Rural America, a conversation between USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, US Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Dan Carmody of Detroit’s Eastern Market Corporation, and Melissa Rivers of the East Arkansas Planning and Development District moderated by Doug McKalip of the White House Domestic Policy Council. Read more »

USDA Direct Home Loan Helps Hard-working Single Mom Become a Homeowner

Tony Hernandez (left), Administrator for USDA Housing Programs, and Georgia Rural Development State Director Quinton Robinson congratulate Telisha Mack on her new home in recognition of National Homeownership Month.

Tony Hernandez (left), Administrator for USDA Housing Programs, and Georgia Rural Development State Director Quinton Robinson congratulate Telisha Mack on her new home in recognition of National Homeownership Month.

In 2011, Telisha Mack was ready to take the leap into homeownership.  She put mortgage applications at three different banks, but was not approved because she didn’t have a huge down payment or a co-signer. She lost her chance to purchase two different homes she liked.

As a single mother with three children while working a full-time job, Telisha managed to overcome a number of hurdles to obtain an Associate’s Degree in Accounting, a Bachelor’s Degree in Management, and a Master’s Degree in Human Resources. She maintained good credit and budgeted wisely. She knew she could overcome the hurdle of entering homeownership, but wasn’t sure exactly how or when. Then, she heard from a friend how USDA Rural Development helps families break into the housing market. Read more »

Connecting Rural Businesses with International Customers

Logs from the U.S. being shipped overseas are unloaded near the Port of New Orleans in New Orleans, LA on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013. USDA photo by Anson Eaglin.

Logs from the U.S. being shipped overseas are unloaded near the Port of New Orleans in New Orleans, LA on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013. USDA photo by Anson Eaglin.

2013 was a record year for America agricultural exports, with $141 billion in sales and an additional $180 billion in related business activity. We expect even greater things in 2014, when international sales of U.S. farm and food products are expected to reach $149.5 billion. Taken as a whole, these numbers are impressive – but they impress me even more when I think about all the American companies who made this happen.

Many of these companies are based in rural communities, and they employ more than a million U.S. workers to produce products that are valued throughout the world. It’s amazing to think about those individuals, from small towns across America, who produce everything from cheese to pet food to distillers dried grains. It makes me proud of the work USDA is doing to connect these rural producers to international markets. Read more »

Drought Assistance Helps Nebraska Rancher Get Back on Track

Like many ranchers suffering from the effects of drought, LaNelle Martin paid $5,000 more for high-priced hay and feed to keep her small operation running.

Like many ranchers suffering from the effects of drought, LaNelle Martin paid $5,000 more for high-priced hay and feed to keep her small operation running.

This post is part of a disaster assistance program feature series on the USDA blog. Check back every Wednesday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

When enrollment opened for the USDA disaster assistance programs this April, LaNelle Martin was one of the first to sign up at the Kimball County FSA office in Nebraska.

“After two years of a severe drought our pastures are limited and haven’t grown,” said Martin. “We need the pasture to support our cattle and the cost of feed and hay is pricey.”

Nebraska, along with portions of the southern and western parts of the United States has suffered one of the longest and most devastating droughts in history. Kimball County’s worst seasons were 2012 to 2013, when the area was named a primary natural disaster area by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. This year, some snow and spring rains provided a little relief, “But as most of our producers say, we are only four to six weeks away from another disaster,” said Patricia Perry, FSA program technician in the Kimball County office. Read more »