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USDA Rural Development and Habitat for Humanity Partner to Help a Kentucky Mom Build and Finance Her First Home

Participating in the ground breaking are (from left) Mary Shearer (Executive Director of Kentucky Habitat for Humanity); Chase Crigler (field representative for U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell); prospective homeowner Suzanna Hoskins and her three children; State Director Tom Fern; State Senator Don Blevins and Melissa Patrick (Morehead State University).

History was made in a small rural Kentucky community last week as ground was broken on a new home in Morehead. This project marks the first time that USDA Rural Development and Habitat for Humanity have collaborated to help a formerly homeless single mother take her first steps toward becoming a first-time homeowner. Read more »

USDA Community Facilities Funds Promote Student Fitness in South Dakota

The South Dakota  Bon Homme School District #04-2 Mission Statement – “To ensure that our students have the resources to succeed in a changing world.”  Hard work is continually being done with the focus placed on learning and commitment of excellence to serve the students who are our future leaders, their parents and the communities.  The District is made up of communities and rural areas of Springfield, Tabor, Tyndall, and the Bon Homme Hutterite Colony.

South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks participated in a dedication ceremony for the Fitness Center project at Bon Homme School District #04-2.  The Fitness Center will be made available to all students and staff with weight, exercise, and cardio vascular equipment.  USDA Rural Development is providing a Community Facilities grant of $33,000 to be leveraged with an applicant contribution through the Hoch Foundation of $247,000 for the project. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: The Means to Help Producers Impacted by Drought

This week, we continued to see historic levels of drought grip much of our nation, impacting thousands of farm families. Although the hard work and innovation of our producers has fueled a strong farm economy in recent years, President Obama and I understand the major challenges this drought poses for American agriculture.

As of July 20, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 1,055 counties across the country as disaster areas due to drought. Significant portions of many crops are impacted – for example, according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor report, 88 percent of our nation’s corn and 87 percent of our soybeans are in drought-stricken areas. Rising grain prices are threatening livestock and dairy operators with high input costs. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 7/20/12

Approximately 88% of the corn grown in the U.S. is within an area experiencing drought, based on historical NASS crop production data.

Approximately 88% of the corn grown in the U.S. is within an area experiencing drought, based on historical NASS crop production data. (Click to enlarge map)

Visit www.usda.gov/drought for the latest information regarding USDA’s Drought Disaster response and assistance.

The drought of 2012 has rapidly expanded and intensified, covering 64% of the contiguous United States – according to the U.S. Drought Monitor – by July 17.  Three months ago, that figure stood at 37%, and at the beginning of the year, only 28% of the lower 48 states had drought coverage. Read more »

USDA Official Stands with Indiana Producers During Worsening Drought

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service (FFAS) Michael Scuse (right) tour drought stricken corn fields with Doug Goyings, on the Goyings Farm in Paulding County, Ohio on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. More information at www.usda.gov/drought - USDA photo by Christina Reed.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service (FFAS) Michael Scuse (right) tour drought stricken corn fields with Doug Goyings, on the Goyings Farm in Paulding County, Ohio on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. More information at www.usda.gov/drought - USDA photo by Christina Reed.

Visit www.usda.gov/drought for the latest information regarding USDA’s Drought Disaster response and assistance.

This week, as drought conditions continued to expand across two-thirds of the lower 48 states, USDA officials began fanning out to rural communities across the country to show support to farmers and ranchers affected by the drought. As part of the effort, USDA Under Secretary for Foreign and Farm Agricultural Services Michael Scuse visited Indiana, a state now experiencing increasing levels of drought, as most of the state has been designated a natural disaster area by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack Announces Proposed Rule to Help Utilities Assist Home and Business Owners’ Energy Conservation Efforts

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with constituents after his Investments in Rural Pennsylvania speech about the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development (RD) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Proposed Energy Efficiency Rule at the Alleghany Electric Cooperative, Inc. Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association in Harrisburg, PA on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with constituents after his Investments in Rural Pennsylvania speech about the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development (RD) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Proposed Energy Efficiency Rule at the Alleghany Electric Cooperative, Inc. Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association in Harrisburg, PA on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

As Harrisburg, Penn., temperatures reached 93 degrees on Tuesday and continued to climb throughout the afternoon, it seemed an appropriate time for Secretary Tom Vilsack to announce a new proposed Federal Rule that could help rural homeowners and entrepreneurs save on their utility bills and create jobs in rural areas. The new energy efficiency effort will make federal loans available for rural electric cooperatives to re-lend to electric cooperative customers throughout America who want to make their homes and businesses more energy efficient. The partnership demonstrates a new “pathway to prosperity” according to Secretary Vilsack, and is “a reminder of President Obama’s commitment to stronger rural communities, a stronger rural economy, and strengthening rural values.” Read more »