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Recognizing the Power in Rural

As the USDA Rural Development State Director for Oregon, I’m aware of the significant economic benefits our programs have produced in partnership with rural communities, residents and businesses in every corner of my state. As I drove across the country during my recent vacation, I was curious to also see how visible the Agency’s support for place-appropriate, locally led efforts would be on my route from Oregon to Virginia. Knowing what to look for, I could easily identify the signs of rural economic and community development—even from my limited dashboard viewpoint—as I drove a transect path across the USDA Rural Development nationwide service area. Rural America accounts for 75 percent of the Nation’s land area, and that is where we work. Across the rural landscape, it is difficult, if not impossible, to find a community that hasn’t benefitted in some way from our support for affordable housing, business development, essential infrastructure, community facilities and clean, efficient energy. Read more »

Grassroots Stewardship Journey Restores Long-Neglected Soils and Pastures

Some TSFR CBO members and James Gore, NRCS assistant chief, toured Henry Day’s farm in Millican, Tex. Day highlighted benefits he has reaped from NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which includes conservation practices such as grass planting, cross fencing and pond establishment.

Some TSFR CBO members and James Gore, NRCS assistant chief, toured Henry Day’s farm in Millican, Tex. Day highlighted benefits he has reaped from NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which includes conservation practices such as grass planting, cross fencing and pond establishment.

As a young adult, Henry Day of Millican, Tex. left his family’s ranch and spent years living and working in Houston, returning frequently to visit throughout the years. Upon his retirement, he came back for good and began his grassroots journey to restore the long-neglected soils and pastures on the ranch.

Day ranches on 157 acres, which his grandfather purchased in the mid-1800s. Nutrient-deficient soils and visible erosion problems made it an intimidating prospect, as did the overgrown pastures, which were covered in mesquite, weeds and thick underbrush. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Laying the Groundwork for New Manufacturing Jobs

In his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out the importance of manufacturing as we seek to make America a magnet for jobs. He believes there’s much we can achieve to create new manufacturing jobs, including in rural America.

For example, we can achieve a common-sense reform of the tax code. The President proposed lowering tax rates for manufacturers by 25 percent, while ending unfair tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.

We can achieve strong markets and a level playing field for American-made products.  USDA has already helped the President achieve record exports of agricultural products – with more than $478 billion in agricultural exports from 2009-2012. We will be there to help expand trade with Europe, Asia and other areas throughout the world. These efforts will open doors not just for agriculture, but for quality manufactured products made here at home. Read more »

Join Our Webinars To Find Out How You Can Help Feed Kids During the Summer

A youngster enjoys a crisp apple for lunch at the Puerto Rican Association for Human Development’s Mi Escuelita summer food program site in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. More than 75 kids enjoy physical activities such as soccer and basketball followed by a free healthy lunch each day during summer thanks to the USDA Summer Food Service Program.

A youngster enjoys a crisp apple for lunch at the Puerto Rican Association for Human Development’s Mi Escuelita summer food program site in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. More than 75 kids enjoy physical activities such as soccer and basketball followed by a free healthy lunch each day during summer thanks to the USDA Summer Food Service Program.

Children need good nutrition all year long. When school is out during the summer months, many children no longer have access to even one nutritious meal each day.  Research shows a lack of nutrition during the summer months may set up a cycle for poor performance once school begins.  We must do all we can to ensure that children get nutritious food during the summer months so that they are ready to learn during the school year. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is intended to feed kids during these “meal gap” periods. Read more »

Deputy Secretary Discusses Food Hubs, New Orleans Style

Nathan Cann volunteers at Hollygrove Market and Farm (HGMF) in exchange for a box of fresh produce valued at $25.00 in New Orleans, LA on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. USDA photo by Karen Lawson.

Nathan Cann volunteers at Hollygrove Market and Farm (HGMF) in exchange for a box of fresh produce valued at $25.00 in New Orleans, LA on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. USDA photo by Karen Lawson.

New Orleans is known for many special things, not the least of which is its food.

That’s why Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan chose the crescent city this week to release a new report on the importance of food hubs in America.  The report finds that there is an increasing demand for fresh, local foods and the popularity of food hubs is growing quickly.  In fact, there are well over 200 across the country now, including Hollygrove Farm and Market in downtown New Orleans. Read more »

South Dakota Stronger Economies Together Training Provides an Opportunity to Plan Regionally

Come to Wall Drug! From the far reaches of the nation, these words are on billboards beckoning visitors to come and experience this tourist hotspot in Wall, South Dakota.  Community members that make up the Bad River/Badlands region in western South Dakota were in Wall this month for a different reason.

A training team made up of staff from South Dakota USDA Rural Development and South Dakota State University Extension were on hand to deliver the third training of a nine part series as part of the Stronger Economies Together (SET) regional economic development initiative. Read more »