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Farming Dreams and Independence Day

Young members of the Chedepo-Grebo tribe celebrate their cultural heritage by re-creating traditional decoration and attire during a recent cultural celebration in Guinda.  The tribe is utilizing an FSA Operating Loan to expand its specialty fruit and vegetable growing business focusing on the ethnic market in Northern California.

Young members of the Chedepo-Grebo tribe celebrate their cultural heritage by re-creating traditional decoration and attire during a recent cultural celebration in Guinda. The tribe is utilizing an FSA Operating Loan to expand its specialty fruit and vegetable growing business focusing on the ethnic market in Northern California.

As we reflect on this important month that celebrates our nation’s 235th anniversary, I thought I’d share a story about how Farm Service Agency (FSA) in California is helping people achieve and celebrate their own version of the American Dream.  This morning, I visited with a Liberian immigrant farming 50 acres of fruits and vegetables in the Capay Valley.  He has worked with Marianne Morton, county executive director in Yolo, Belle Davis, farm loan manager in San Joaquin, and other USDA staff on various farm loan programs and conservation program issues. Today, he uses an operating loan to further support his farming operations.  As he enthusiastically described his dream of building a small poultry facility near his walnut orchard, I was reminded of the role we at FSA play in helping people dream big things and ultimately achieve them. Read more »

Cooking Up Economic Opportunities, Tennessee Style

Tennessee Gourmet Co-Owner and Cumberland Culinary Center Manager Sue Sykes shows off new equipment purchased with help from a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant at Cumberland University's Cumberland Culinary Center on 7/12/2011. Seen behind her are USDA RD Business Programs Director for Tennessee Dan Beasley, USDA Rural Development Tennessee State Director Bobby Goode, Tennessee Gourmet Co-Owner Gary Doomer, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto, USDA RD Nashville Area Director Christopher Westbrook and Ron Reed's Signature Barbeque Sauce Company Owner Ron Reed, Cumberland University School of Business Dean Paul Stumb, USDA FSA State Director Gene Davidson and USDA Tennessee State Conservationist Kevin Brown.

Tennessee Gourmet Co-Owner and Cumberland Culinary Center Manager Sue Sykes shows off new equipment purchased with help from a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant at Cumberland University's Cumberland Culinary Center.

Born and raised in New England I can’t claim to know the finer details and intricacies of the delicious and competitive world of barbeque.  So when I came to Tennessee to highlight economic development opportunities at Cumberland University’s Cumberland Culinary Center I was pleased to see first-hand just how intense that competition can be  and how that competition is fueling small business opportunities and growth in rural Tennessee. Read more »

US Forest Service Finds that Forests Play Huge Role in Reducing Carbon and Higher Global Temps

Forests absorb carbon like a giant sponge into what scientists call a carbon sink. This fact is well known throughout the scientific community. However, what scientists weren’t sure of until now is the amount of carbon forests can store.

For years scientists knew a large amount of carbon was somehow being stored but could not identify exactly how this was done. This is because less than half of the carbon dioxide released through fossil fuel use remains in the atmosphere. The remaining carbon enters the oceans and other carbon sinks including forests. Read more »

Growing Jobs in Rural America

In President Obama’s July 11 press conference, he asked us all to look at the steps we can take short term in order to put folks back to work.  At the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), we have been promoting the domestic biobased industry because we know green jobs represent a growth investment.  On July 14, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will hold a public hearing during which biobased product manufacturer representatives will testify about how they are trying to help the United States win the future by investing in and creating domestic job growth.

As defined by USDA, biobased products are goods – other than food or feed – that are made from biological ingredients, including renewable domestic agricultural materials, forestry products, or intermediate chemicals.  The USDA BioPreferred® program, established by the 2008 farm bill, encourages the development, purchase, and use of innovative biobased products through preferred Federal Agency procurement and a voluntary biobased product labeling program. Read more »

USDA Participates in National Drought Policy Meeting

Drought knows no national boundary and can impact almost all socio-economic activities in the society. Projections indicate that the frequency, intensity and duration of droughts are likely to increase in the future.  Without a coordinated national drought policy nations around the world will continue to respond in a reactive, crisis management mode.  A national drought policy should include effective monitoring and early warning systems to deliver timely information to decision makers; effective impact assessment procedures; proactive risk management measures and preparedness plans aimed at increasing the coping capacity; and effective emergency measures. Comprehensive National Drought Policies can help countries cope with the impacts of droughts through pro-active drought risk management approaches. Read more »

Dr. Andrea Morgan of USDA’s Animal Care Program Talks Horse Health

Dr. Morgan, pictured here with her horse, Belle, knew at a young age that she wanted to be a veterinarian when, on a road trip with her parents, she saw the horses in Louisville and Lexington.

Dr. Morgan, pictured here with her horse, Belle, knew at a young age that she wanted to be a veterinarian when, on a road trip with her parents, she saw the horses in Louisville and Lexington.

Hello, I’m Dr. Andrea (Andy) Morgan, Associate Deputy Administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)’s Animal Care (AC) program. In 1985, when I hadn’t been out of vet school long and was working at a small animal practice, I got ahold of a brochure about APHIS’ Public Veterinary Practice Career Program. I was interested in working not just with small animals but with other animals, too—exotic animals and horses, to name a few. So I joined APHIS that year, and here I am, still working for the agency 26 years and many important experiences later. Read more »