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In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Mary Safie

Mary Safie pictured with Jamie Clover Adams, Jamie Zmitko-Somers, and Allie Fox

(Right to Left) Mary Safie, owner of Safie Specialty Foods pictured with Jamie Clover Adams, Director of Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), Jamie Zmitko-Somers, MDARD’s International Marketing Program Manager of the Office of Agriculture Development and Allie Fox, MDARD’s International Marketing Assistant of the Agriculture Development Division at the 2016 National Restaurant Association in Chicago.

Every month, USDA shares the story of a woman in agriculture who is leading the industry and helping other women succeed along the way. This month, we hear from Mary Safie, owner of Safie Specialty Foods. In 1994, Mary took over her family’s canning business which began in 1929 in her grandfather’s kitchen with food grown on his farm in Chesterfield Township, Michigan. Specializing in pickled vegetables, Safie’s has experienced success domestically and abroad, with assistance from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service and State Regional Trade Groups. Read more »

Building Communities Together Nationwide

Building Communities Together Nationwide infographic

Building Communities Together Nationwide infographic (Click to view a larger version)

Owning a home opens up a world of opportunities. A home is an asset that helps families finance education or a business. A home could be the reason you learn how to use a power drill, or the reason you start your first garden. Homeownership helps people become more financially literate all while connecting with their community in ways they may have never connected before.

Now that another Homeownership Month has come and gone, I would like to reflect on the strides the Obama Administration has made toward truly accessible rural homeownership for all. Since 2009 USDA Rural Development has made investments in affordable homeownership opportunities in 3,200 U.S. counties. These investments have benefitted more than 1 million people across the country. Read more »

USDA is a Boon to Business in Boonville, NY; Higher Exports Thanks, in part, to Rural Development Program

Administrator Sam Rikkers touring the lumber yard

Administrator Sam Rikkers tours the lumber yard with CJ Logging Equipment and 3B Timber President, Mark Bourgeois.

Focusing on international markets, renewable energy and a community’s inherent assets, rural businesses find dynamic paths to prosperity.  To see this in action, I headed to Boonville, New York.

Mark Bourgeois was born and raised in Boonville and today is President of CJ Logging Equipment and 3B Timber.  A stable employer in the region, 3B Timer processes softwood trees on-site into utility poles. 3B Timber utilized Rural Development’s Business & Industry (B&I) loan guarantee to expand their operations.  As Mark explained, his company now exports 80% of its poles to Canada, expanding international trade and supporting job creation in the region and state. Read more »

Does Your Smoked Brisket Make the Grade?

Cooked brisket

Official USDA quality grade labels provide assurance that your beef cuts meet specific quality thresholds that are individually assessed by a select staff of just over 140 skilled and highly trained USDA beef graders.

I live for barbeque season. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of getting that meat done just right, and nothing like the gratification that comes with sharing it with friends and family gathered on a sunny summer’s day.

When it comes to successful barbeque, I have a bit more skin in the game than most.  You see, for me a quality eating experience at a family or community function isn’t just a personal goal – it’s a professional calling.  My agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is committed to helping meat and poultry producers market their high quality products to consumers across the nation (and the world), and quality is the name of our game. Read more »

REAP: Working Well in North Carolina

Joel Olson (left), President of O2 Energies, Inc. of North Carolina speaking with USDA staff

Joel Olson (left), President of O2 Energies, Inc. of North Carolina speaks with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) staff in front of one of O2's solar projects. O2 worked with local North Carolina lender Surrey Bank & Trust and USDA Rural Development to finance the project.

USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP as we call it, is one of the flagship programs found in the energy title of the Farm Bill. Through REAP, USDA helps rural agricultural producers and small businesses improve their financial bottom line through increased energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy sources.

We wanted to share two great examples of this investment and development in North Carolina. In Mt. Airy, NC, local lenders took advantage of REAP’s loan guarantees to finance O2 Energies and build a solar farm that can provide up to 20% of the power needed by the community. Read more »

SNAP Farmers Market Webpage Streamlined, Updated

Farmers’ market in Texas

Shoppers explore the healthy food choices available at one of America’s farmers markets.

Expanding access to the healthy foods available at farmers markets and farm stands for those participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been – and continues to be – a USDA priority. For several years now, we’ve provided funding to equip farmers markets and direct marketing farmers with the electronic technology they need to redeem SNAP benefits. The results speak for themselves. In 2008, there were only 753 SNAP-authorized markets and farmers. Today, that number has grown to more than 6,400 – more than eight times the number of SNAP-authorized farmers markets compared to when the Obama Administration first took office. Read more »