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Meeting with Illinois Business Leaders in Springfield

This past week, I had the chance to sit down with about 20 business leaders in central Illinois to hear their views on ways we can improve the nation’s economy, especially from the agriculture industry perspective.  The meeting was part of a series of outreach efforts across the country this summer to rural Americans as part of the White House Business Council and the White House Rural Council.

I want to thank Tim McArdle of Brandt Consolidated, Inc., who leads a successful agri-business in Springield, IL that helps farmers adopt new technologies for their operations.  We gathered representatives from many local businesses and had a frank and open discussion about the role of the Federal government in creating a business environment that encourages job growth and improves economic conditions in the agricultural sector and rural communities. Read more »

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service Helps Virginia Ag Exporters Thrive in Asia

Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore discussed aquaculture with business developers outside of Shanghai, China. Haymore was a key member of a delegation from Virginia who recently embarked on a trade mission to Asia, which was supported by Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) employees assigned to the region.

Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore discussed aquaculture with business developers outside of Shanghai, China. Haymore was a key member of a delegation from Virginia who recently embarked on a trade mission to Asia, which was supported by Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) employees assigned to the region.

Helping American farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses gain and maintain access to international markets is one of the most important roles of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). Read more »

Food, Fun, and Sun! Summer Food Service Program Story and Photo Contest

A participant enjoys an apple fresh from the tree during a Boys and Girls Club field trip to a local farm.

A participant enjoys an apple fresh from the tree during a Boys and Girls Club field trip to a local farm.

Summer is in full swing, and it’s time for some healthy competition!  Around the country, local organizations from churches to community centers are busy serving meals to kids through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), a federally-funded program that provides free, nutritious meals and snacks to help children in low-income areas get the nutrition they need throughout the summer months when school is not in session. Read more »

Going Green with Rural Development

Use of wind turbines for renewable energy production on Midwestern farms is on the rise. Photo courtesy of USDA Rural Development.

Use of wind turbines for renewable energy production on Midwestern farms is on the rise. Photo courtesy of USDA Rural Development.

As more Americans strive to be eco-friendly and environmentally conscious, the buzz surrounding renewable energy has exploded.  Millions across the country already do their part every day to recycle, reduce carbon emissions and make the earth a little bit greener, but how can you do more?  Rural Development has programs available to provide funding for renewable energy projects.  Here’s a glimpse of the investments made in renewable energy thanks to partnerships between our agency and the rural individuals and businesses dedicated to creating a cleaner world: Read more »

Rural Business Booms in York, PA

Alan Shortall, CEO of Unilife headquartered in York, PA.

Alan Shortall, CEO of Unilife headquartered in York, PA.

Alan Shortall recently hosted Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and a White House Business Council roundtable at his company’s headquarters in York, Penn. Alan’s company, Unilife, was the recipient of a USDA Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan. His story is proof that public and business sectors can work together to bring about change in rural America.

I was recently honored to host a roundtable discussion between the White House Business Council and local business leaders from York, PA. This meeting and similar roundtable discussions now taking place across the country are an excellent initiative by the Obama Administration as it provides a direct line of communication between employers from across the U.S and senior members of the Federal Government. Read more »

AMS Partners with American Association of People with Disabilities Internship Program

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently became a participant in the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) Internship Program, which brings students to Washington, DC, to gain valuable working experience.  This is the first year that our agency has participated in this program.

AMS is utilizing our relationship with AAPD to create a more diverse workforce, one that includes more employees with disabilities.  We understand the importance of designing employment practices that consider the needs of all employees.  A diverse workforce introduces everyone to unique perspectives that ultimately help us find innovative approaches to solving problems and solidifying our business model.  This is one of the ways AMS can continue to provide services that benefit everyone in the greater public. Read more »