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Secretary’s Column: Growing Opportunity by Expanding Access to Credit

Today, USDA remains focused on working with Congress to secure a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. A comprehensive Farm Bill will allow USDA to carry on our record efforts to support agriculture, conservation, trade, research and rural development efforts – and it will provide needed support and certainty for folks in rural America.

USDA’s credit programs provide a very good example of the positive impact a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would have for our nation.

Through programs authorized under the current Farm Bill, USDA provides access to credit that helps farmers to buy or expand an operation, helps businesses to grow and hire more, helps rural families looking for a good place to live and helps build up rural communities. Read more »

Martin Luther King Day-A Day of Service

In a 1957 sermon, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., challenged the congregation, asking:  “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is:  ’What are you doing for others?’ ”

Throughout his lifetime, Dr. King was passionately committed to community and service. On January 21st, USDA Rural Development is proud to join with Americans from all walks of life to honor Dr. King’s legacy through a National Day of Service. The Day of Service — a “day on, not a day off” — is part of United We Serve, President Obama’s national call to service initiative.

At USDA Rural Development, “doing for others” is one of our core rural values, and we encourage everyone in our organization to practice Dr. King’s principals of community, volunteerism and service not just on the Day of Service but throughout the year. In Tennessee, the “Volunteer State,” USDA Rural Development employees in the State Office in Nashville helped the hungry over the past year by donating more than 3,800 pounds of food through the USDA Feds Feed Families food drive to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. State Office employees also helped the food bank, which provides food to about 600,000 people across 46 counties each year, to sort food items for easier distribution. Read more »

Committed to Food Safety: Meet Supervisory Veterinary Medical Officer Dr. Douglas Fulnechek

Dr. Douglas Fulnechek discusses the different states of a disease process at an off-line carcass disposition correlation station.

Dr. Douglas Fulnechek discusses the different states of a disease process at an off-line carcass disposition correlation station.

FSIS is the largest employer of veterinarians in the United States, consisting of 1,100 dedicated Public Health Veterinarians (PHV) who are trained in public health and regulatory medicine. These veterinarians verify the health of the animals destined for the food supply. Dr. Douglas Fulnechek is one of these veterinarians. Read more »

In DC for the Inauguration? Come Say #HelloUSDA!

Planning to be in town for the 2013 Presidential Inauguration?  USDA will open its doors on the National Mall for a USDA open house on Friday, January 18 from 10am – 2pm. The open house is a special opportunity to learn more about USDA’s important role in the lives of every American – helping to provide an abundant and safe food supply, natural resource conservation, groundbreaking research, clean energy, and much more. Read more »

Mississippi Landowner Nurtures Healthy Forest, Helps Wildlife

Variano Suarez (right) worked with NRCS Supervisory District Conservationist Kelvin Jackson and other staff members to plant native legumes on his land, providing food and shelter for dove and other wildlife.

Variano Suarez (right) worked with NRCS Supervisory District Conservationist Kelvin Jackson and other staff members to plant native legumes on his land, providing food and shelter for dove and other wildlife.

Variano “Chino” Suarez manages four restaurants in Mississippi. You could say that he appreciates his free time more than most. When it’s time to unwind, Suarez retreats to his forest acres in the red clay hills of eastern Mississippi. Here, wildlife thrives and ponds are filled with bream and bass. Read more »

Ag Census Demonstrates Value of Agriculture, Data Critical for Programs and Policies

Today, farmers and ranchers have less than three weeks to return their Census of Agriculture – and at USDA, we hope that everyone who can get their response back to us as soon as possible.

Currently underway by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the Census collects detailed data covering nearly every facet of U.S. agriculture. It’s the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation, and this year’s Census will provide USDA current information as we work to support American agriculture and build up the rural economy.

Accurate statistical data regarding our rural areas is important as we work hard at USDA to design effective programs and deliver quality service, even as we work to streamline operations and reduce our budget footprint. Read more »