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In Charles City Iowa, USDA Officials Listen to Advice from Business Leaders at White House Roundtable Event

Access to capital, cutting edge technology and more responsive government programs will help drive rural innovation, according to participants at a White House Business Council roundtable in Charles City, Iowa yesterday. Facilitated by USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Administrator Jonathan Adelstein, the forum drew a group of rural business leaders from around the region. They raised issues ranging from the length of time it takes to process passport and visa applications to new regulations on banks and financial institutions.

Adelstein, who is one of the Obama Administration’s leading advocates for rural broadband, heard an extensive discussion of the shortcomings of rural broadband in Charles City. At the same time, rural telephone cooperatives described their success working with RUS to improve their systems. Charles City Mayor Jim Erb told Adelstein there exists a “rural-rural” divide in which some communities receive exceptional broadband service while others do not. Adelstein said the Obama Administration is working to extend high speed broadband throughout rural America and that USDA programs may be able to help. The probability that economic development and job creation in rural areas will be driven by access to high speed broadband was stressed. Read more »

Thanks to USDA, Alaska Native Villages will have Safe, Reliable Water Supplies

Project Manager Mike MarcAurele looks at the water source for the Alaska Native village of Kasaan.  Working with our partners, USDA funding is being used to improve water quality and sanitation across rural Alaska.  (Photo used with permission of Jerry Cnossen, Superintendent, ANTHC – DEHE)

Project Manager Mike MarcAurele looks at the water source for the Alaska Native village of Kasaan. Working with our partners, USDA funding is being used to improve water quality and sanitation across rural Alaska. (Photo used with permission of Jerry Cnossen, Superintendent, ANTHC – DEHE)

Not many people know the names of our small rural Alaska villages, but USDA Rural Development does!  We are pleased to share the names of 14 of these communities and the great news they received on July 15th. Read more »

As Exports to China Boom, U.S. Companies Showcase Their Wares at China Trade Show

SIAL China 2011 had a strong showing of U.S. exhibitors eager to tap in to China’s growing market for U.S. agricultural products.

SIAL China 2011 had a strong showing of U.S. exhibitors eager to tap in to China’s growing market for U.S. agricultural products.

In May, 67 U.S. companies descended on Shanghai for the largest food and beverage show in China—SIAL China.  U.S. exports are expanding all over the world, and China recently emerged as the United States’ top export market in 2010, and accounted for 20 percent of U.S. agricultural exports, valued at $15.1 billion in the first half of Fiscal Year 2011. Read more »

Rural Champion, Roland Arriola, Brings Grass Roots Change to Youth in South Texas

Roland Arriola, Founder & President, Texas Valley Communities Foundation, Texas

Roland Arriola, Founder & President, Texas Valley Communities Foundation, Texas

Cross posted from the White House Rural Champions of Change website:

After retiring from the University of Texas-Pan American in 2008, Dr. Arriola, like many retirees in America, wanted to continue to be of service to his community. He formed the Texas Valley Communities Foundation, a non-profit, 501(c)3 tax exempt organization designed to provide funding and support to grass roots organizations in South Texas seeking to develop and implement effective college readiness outreach programs for Hispanics and at-risk students. Through his efforts, and with the help of grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Motor Company Fund, Meadows Foundation, and the Houston Endowment, Dr. Arriola’s foundation and its partner grass roots organizations have created the Engaging Communities for College Readiness (ENCORE) program. Read more »

USDA’s Seed Regulatory and Testing Division Offers Services to Assist the Industry

The Federal Seed Act (FSA) is a truth-in–labeling law that regulates the interstate shipment of agricultural and vegetable seed.  The FSA is enforced with the aid of cooperative agreements between the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and each of the fifty state departments of agriculture.  Enforcement of the FSA is one of the responsibilities of the AMS Seed Regulatory and Testing Division.

State seed inspectors, trained by the Seed Regulatory Testing Division and authorized by AMS, obtain official samples of seed which are initially tested by their state seed laboratory.  While state seed laboratories participating in FSA enforcement routinely test official seed samples for mechanical purity, germination and noxious weed-seeds, they often don’t have the ability to test seed to verify varietal labeling. Read more »

Check Your Steps! Chill: How to Pack a Cooler to Prevent Food Poisoning

Here in Washington, D.C., and probably where you live too, it is hot! This week’s Check Your Steps blog focuses on a timely food safety step—Chill. You may feel like this guy, but in reality we don’t recommend keeping your food cold with fans, no matter how many you can find.

Bacteria grow rapidly between 40 °F and 140 °F, and when it’s above 90 °F outside, cold food heats to those temperatures much faster. Portable coolers can be your best friend during outdoor summer activities or grocery shopping, but pack them correctly to keep food at 40 °F or below so it doesn’t spoil or make you sick. Read more »