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Small Plant News: Rural Development Stands Ready to Assist Small Meat and Poultry Plants with Loans

[Editor's note: a version of this article was originally published in the Food Safety and Inspection Service's Small Plant News.  This post covers Rural Development loan programs available to small plants; an upcoming post will cover Rural Development grant programs.]

If you are a small packinghouse or processor and you want to expand, upgrade, or update your facility, assistance is available. As covered in the Volume 1, Number 3 issue of Small Plant News, USDA’s Rural Development is ready to offer assistance in the form of loans and grants, which this two-part series will examine. Read more »

Texas Hunger Initiative Joins Let’s Move Faith and Communities to Serve Summer Meals

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

As part of Let’s Move!, First Lady Michelle Obama has challenged community and faith leaders to combat hunger. One of her goals for Let’s Move Faith and Communities is to encourage these trusted leaders to start 1,000 Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sites where kids can gather for a healthy meal when school is out. As faith and community leaders know, however, getting meals to hungry children is much easier said than done. That’s why the Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) joined Let’s Move Faith and Communities: to help folks serve meals to the one in four children in Texas who don’t get enough to eat every summer.

THI, a Baylor University project that organizes communities to end hunger, rose to the First Lady’s challenge to start SFSP sites. And the communities in Texas need THI’s help; Texas has the second highest food insecurity rate in the country. Through their partnership with the Texas Department of Agriculture, USDA’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and local leaders, THI has increased meals served statewide by 2 million since last summer, the single largest increase in the U.S. Because of this partnership, Texas now serves more summer meals than any other state in the country. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Food Safe Families

America has one of the safest and most abundant food supplies in the world. But even in this country, too many people get sick from the food they eat.

This year, one in six Americans will get food poisoning – that’s 48 million people. 128,000 will end up in the hospital. And 3,000 will die. These aren’t just statistics. These are real people, real families, impacted by the food they put on the table. Read more »

Strong Start for USDA’s Feds Feed Families Campaign

Our June Feds Feed Families totals are in, and I would like to give my USDA colleagues across the country a discreet, virtual high-five.

Today, Secretary Vilsack announced that USDA donated just over 100,000 pounds of food to the Feds Feed Families food drive during the month of June.  What a great start to the campaign! The National Office Feds Feed Families team continues to be inspired by the stories we are hearing from our counterparts in the field. Read more »

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 »