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New Trade Agreements a Boon for American Agriculture

.USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service has 98 offices worldwide that work every day to maintain access of U.S. agricultural products.

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service has 98 offices worldwide that work every day to maintain access of U.S. agricultural products.

Outside of farm country, many people don’t realize the importance of American agriculture to our overall economy. One in 12 American jobs is connected to agriculture, in all sorts of industries from picking and processing, to packing and shipping, to shelving at your local market. And despite hardships and setbacks this year due to extreme weather, America’s farm economy remains one of the brightest spots in our nation’s economy. Read more »

Organizations Looks to Maine to Learn about Dynamic Renewable Energy Projects

USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel and staff recently organized an important visit to Maine for a high-level worldwide organization known as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The group, headquartered in Paris, France, established formal links with USDA Rural Development in Washington, DC over a year ago to review how renewable energy projects are supporting rural economic development in the United States. The six OECD officials on this mission represent the countries of Italy, Germany, Norway, Scotland, and the United States.

USDA Rural Development has invested $16.05 million in renewable energy projects in Maine over the last several years, including funding for the Fox Island Wind turbines on Vinalhaven. Read more »

Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure

Cross posted from the White House blog

For generations, our nation’s leaders have invested in the infrastructure that made our nation a superpower. That is why President Obama proposed investments in infrastructure in the American Jobs Act to create construction jobs today rebuilding America’s roadways, railways, transit systems, schools and airports.  And examples of these sorts of projects are taking place across the county.

For the folks in Beaufort County, South Carolina, their vision was to build an educational hub that held both cultural and historical meaning for their community on St. Helena Island.   Tomorrow, their vision becomes a reality with the groundbreaking for the St. Helena Library. Read more »

Feds Feed Families by Gleaning

USDA employees collected thousands of pounds of food this summer by gleaning as part of the 3rd annual Feds Feed Families Food Drive. Help people in your community access fresh, healthy produce by starting a gleaning program.  Learn more by reading USDA’s Gleaning Toolkit.

USDA employees collected thousands of pounds of food this summer by gleaning as part of the 3rd annual Feds Feed Families Food Drive. Help people in your community access fresh, healthy produce by starting a gleaning program. Learn more by reading USDA’s Gleaning Toolkit.

USDA employees raised about 40 semi-trailers worth of food nationwide during the 3rd annual Feds Feed Families Food Drive! Put another way, 40 semi-trailers is equivalent to an astonishing 1,791,393 pounds of food. This number shattered USDA’s already ambitious goal of raising 500,000 pounds of food this summer. Accomplishing this goal is a testament to the dedication of USDA employees around the country to feed our neighbors. Whether that is through the department’s 15 different nutrition assistance programs that touch the lives of one in four Americans, or from their own generosity, USDA employees are making a big difference during a time of need. Read more »

Massachusetts Dam Stands up to Tropical Storm Irene

NRCS Massachusetts civil engineer Jim Lyons oversees operations at the Nichols Dam.

NRCS Massachusetts civil engineer Jim Lyons oversees operations at the Nichols Dam.

Just before Tropical Storm Irene hit Massachusetts, employees of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), including me, were informed of the storm’s potential impact on a dam rehabilitation project that was underway in Westborough, Mass., a suburban community west of Boston. Read more »

Supporting the Healthy Growth of Our Children During National School Lunch Week

Schools across the country focus on offering healthier options and more variety for their students. The pilot program will bring fresh lettuce, apples, grapes, oranges, carrots, and blueberries to Michigan and Florida schools. (Photo by Tim Lauer, principal of Meriwether Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Oregon.)

Schools across the country focus on offering healthier options and more variety for their students. The pilot program will bring fresh lettuce, apples, grapes, oranges, carrots, and blueberries to Michigan and Florida schools. (Photo by Tim Lauer, principal of Meriwether Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Oregon.)

Fresh and healthy foods are the focus again as we celebrate National School Lunch Week.  The theme of this year’s celebration is “School Lunch – Let’s Grow Healthy,” and schools across the country are touting the many ways they are introducing fresh fruits and vegetables and healthier choices on their menus. Read more »