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Florida Family Farm Adopts Conservation Practices, Helps Gulf of Mexico

A center-pivot irrigation system uses low pressure-high uniformity to water a cover crop mix that includes Daikon Radish on Mitch Holtzclaw’s farm in O’Brien, Fla. NRCS photo by Doug Ulmer.

A center-pivot irrigation system uses low pressure-high uniformity to water a cover crop mix that includes Daikon Radish on Mitch Holtzclaw’s farm in O’Brien, Fla. NRCS photo by Doug Ulmer.

For three generations members of Mitch Holtzclaw’s family has farmed land in Suwanee County, Florida. Today, Holtzclaw grows more than 1,000 acres of peanuts, corn and small grains.

His farm is about three miles from the historic Suwannee River, which flows directly into the Gulf of Mexico. The sandy soil types and karst limestone topography on Holtzclaw’s farm are characteristic of the watersheds in the middle Suwannee River Basin and cause for concern over increased nutrient concentrations that can be found in the area’s ground and surface water. Read more »

2014 in Review: New Farm Bill Allows Kansas Family to Purchase Home

Megan Estrada and her children enjoy a swing on the porch of their new home financed by a USDA Rural Development home loan guarantee.

Megan Estrada and her children enjoy a swing on the porch of their new home financed by a USDA Rural Development home loan guarantee.

2014 will soon be in our collective rear view mirrors, and USDA Rural Development has had an incredibly productive year. This week we are looking back on stories from the year that illustrate the impact our programs have on rural communities. Here’s a story out of our Kansas State Office from June.

Megan Estrada and her three children are excited to spend time on their new home’s porch – a home they just moved into this summer. Prior to purchasing their own home, Estrada and her children had spent the last nine years in an apartment in Dodge City, Kansas. Read more »

World Accessibility in Rural America

USDA Rural Development and NCTC break ground on a new high speed broadband project serving rural Tennessee and Kentucky.

USDA Rural Development and NCTC break ground on a new high speed broadband project serving rural Tennessee and Kentucky.

Access to the world via internet and mobile phone services is at the fingertips of most Americans, but this is not the reality for residents of many rural communities across the Nation.

In October 2014, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $190.5 million in grants and loans to make broadband and other advanced communications infrastructure improvements in rural areas. Read more »

Preparing a Holiday Feast? Serve Up the Taste of Organics

Load up your holiday table with nature’s organic bounty.  (iStock image)

Load up your holiday table with nature’s organic bounty. (iStock image)

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Nature presents unparalleled bounty, so why not go back to basics and serve an organic holiday feast? Read more »

USDA Helps a Texas Rancher Reach His Dream of Operating a Successful Ranch

 Rickie Roddy (left) of McLennan County Texas has worked closely with the Natural Resources Conservation Service on a conservation plan on conservation practices ranging from pasture planting to establishing water sources for his cattle herd. NRCS photo by Clete Vanderburg.

Rickie Roddy (left) of McLennan County Texas has worked closely with the Natural Resources Conservation Service on a conservation plan on conservation practices ranging from pasture planting to establishing water sources for his cattle herd. NRCS photo by Clete Vanderburg.

One central Texas rancher is fulfilling a childhood dream. Rickie Roddy bought his first cow when he was 14 years old. By the time he was 19, he had grown his herd to 13 head of cattle.

“I have always been fascinated by cattle,” Roddy said. “I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to have any land, but I wanted to be a rancher since I was a little kid.” Read more »

A New Home for the Holidays in Michigan

 Kelseigh Weber gets a housewarming gift from Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez and USDA Rural Development Specialist Laura Leplow as Michigan State Director James Turner and Rebecca Weber look on.

Kelseigh Weber gets a housewarming gift from Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez and USDA Rural Development Specialist Laura Leplow as Michigan State Director James Turner and Rebecca Weber look on.

 Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez, Michigan State Director James Turner, and Plainwell, Michigan community members at the new City Hall sculpture.

Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez, Michigan State Director James Turner, and Plainwell, Michigan community members at the new City Hall sculpture.

During this holiday week, I couldn’t help but think of my recent visit with Ms. Rebecca Weber of St. Johns, Michigan – about twenty minutes north of our state capital of Lansing. USDA Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez and I were able to meet Ms. Weber and hear her inspiring story.

USDA Rural Development in Michigan has forged a valuable partnership with Habitat for Humanity, where USDA provides the necessary financing for these families to build their homes. Rebecca Weber is one of the shining examples of success coming from that partnership. Rebecca is a hard-working single mother who built her home this year with the help of Habitat for Humanity and USDA Rural Development. Rebecca was so dedicated to getting this home build, that when heavy rains this summer forced a six-month delay due to standing water, she enlister her mother and together they bailed out the property with five gallon buckets to get things back on schedule. Read more »