On Monday I accepted the challenge for USDA to donate more than 1.8 million pounds of food this summer through the 4th annual Feds Feed Families Food Drive (FFF). Game on!
If each USDA employee donates just two pounds of food per week, we will contribute more than 2 million pounds and help our hardworking neighbors put food on the table during these tough economic times. FFF began four years ago to help fill a gap during the summer months, when food banks and pantries struggle with an increase in demand from families and individuals, but a decrease in donations. Each year of the food drive, USDA employees have stepped up to the plate: in 2011, USDA employees organized over 2,000 food drives across the country and collected 1.79 million pounds of fresh and shelf-stable food.
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This has been an important week for the White House Rural Council – a partnership between multiple Federal agencies, created by President Obama last year to focus and coordinate our efforts to create jobs in rural America and support American agriculture.
We marked the one-year anniversary of the Council on June 11; and on the same day, the Rural Council released a report alongside the White House Council of Economic Advisors and USDA that notes significant progress in our efforts to grow the rural economy. But President Obama and I also know that there’s more to be done. Read more »
Dr. Randy Hancock, Director and CEO of the Black Canyon Community Health Center, Inc. (BCCHC) has spent the last ten years working in a cramped building in the small desert town of Black Canyon City, Arizona. His office has three desks crammed in—his, one for the other doctor and one for their Nurse Practitioner.
BCCHC is the only clinic around for miles and it works overtime to meet the basic health needs of the working class rural residents that make up the community. With an average household income nearly $20,000 below the rest of the state, most of the clinic’s clients are retired and on fixed income. “Some of our patients have to walk to the clinic,” said Dr. Hancock. “It’s really difficult if they need specialty tests or radiology and have to try to get to Phoenix.” Read more »
Members of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps lift heavy boulders as part of a project to turn user-created trails on Mount Yale in Colorado into properly maintained trails that do not hurt the environment. (U.S. Forest Service Photo)
The Deschutes National Forest in Oregon and the Pike-San Isabel National Forests in Colorado were recently honored by the Coalition for Recreation Trails with the organization’s Achievement Award for trail projects that exemplify creative partnerships and leveraging funds. Read more »
Industry, academic and representative of non-profits tour the Willamette National Forest east of Eugene, Ore. The U.S. Forest Service, in cooperation with the North Santiam Watershed Council, is working with companies in the region to establish a special forest products industry to thin the stands and harvest products such as moss, boughs, posts and poles, logs and firewood. (OSU Photo)
In Oregon, huge swaths of the Willamette National Forest, perhaps as much as 12,000 acres, has stands of trees less than 40 years old that have never been thinned. The firs are crowded together, making it hard for sunlight to reach them. Competition for resources has made them susceptible to insects, disease, blowdowns and snow breakage. Trees that should be 13 to 14 feet apart are suffocating just eight feet from their neighbors. Read more »
Rural communities are the backbone of our nation’s economy. This past year, food and agriculture exports from rural America reached their highest levels ever and the industry supported more than 1.15 million American jobs. America’s agricultural trade surplus also reached record levels. This is partly the result of a comprehensive rural strategy implemented to spur innovation, increase export levels, invest in clean energy, and expand opportunities for rural enterprises on and off the farm that create jobs. In the last few years, USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program and our Business and Industry Guarantee program has created jobs and has helped millions of rural Americans address essential challenges in health care, education, public service and public safety. And now we want to hear YOUR voice.
On the heels of the 1 year anniversary of the White House Rural Council, and to celebrate National Homeownership Month, I will host the 3rd installment of Virtual Office Hours. The topic will be economic development in our nation’s rural communities, including the great strides that have been made in agricultural economy and the important role housing plays in creating jobs, maintaining viable rural communities, and contributing to the economy. Read more »