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Plant Materials Center Helps Conserve Florida’s Water Supply

PMC staff preparing field for planting test plants in Ona, Florida.

PMC staff preparing field for planting test plants in Ona, Florida.

In Florida, saving water and reducing nutrient runoff are top priorities for state and federal agencies. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Brooksville Plant Materials Center staff and the faculty at two University of Florida Research and Education Centers are collaborating on the development of a seed-producing, improved, low-maintenance native groundcover that can substitute for more high-maintenance grass turf in areas with low foot traffic. Read more »

Farmers Get Pricing Insight Through Market News

A wide variety of eggplant sold at the North Carolina Farmers Market.  The North Carolina State Farmers Market is one of the local markets covered by USDA Market News.  Photo by Justin Henry.

A wide variety of eggplant sold at the North Carolina Farmers Market. The North Carolina State Farmers Market is one of the local markets covered by USDA Market News. Photo by Justin Henry.

The announcement this week that the number of farmers markets has grown by 17 percent nationwide comes as no surprise to the USDA’s Market News. As demand for local and regional foods has grown, USDA’s Market News has grown as well by providing coverage of farmers markets and auctions. Read more »

Kentucky Rural Development Celebrates BIG Opportunities and Job Creation

The ribbon cutting photo includes from left to right: Donna McClure, Sen. McConnell’s office, Mark Johnson, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Earl Gohl, Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, Congressman Hal Rogers, Tom Fern, Kentucky State Director, Bill Singleton, Kentucky Highlands Chairman, and Jerry Rickett, Kentucky Highlands President.

The ribbon cutting photo includes from left to right: Donna McClure, Sen. McConnell’s office, Mark Johnson, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Earl Gohl, Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, Congressman Hal Rogers, Tom Fern, Kentucky State Director, Bill Singleton, Kentucky Highlands Chairman, and Jerry Rickett, Kentucky Highlands President.

Job creation in rural America begins with local leaders, a vision for improving the local economy and then bringing together financing partners to make the vision a reality. I had the honor of joining Congressman Hal Rogers and representatives from Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul’s offices today to celebrate such job creating efforts in Laurel County, KY.   As we walked through this 9,600 square foot business accelerator, you can understand why it is referred to as the BIG Center. Read more »

Healthy Kids are Smarter Kids: Culinary Demo Highlights USDA Foods

Things were cookin’ in Nashville last month, and not just the July weather in this vibrant southern city.  At the historic Opryland Hotel, we joined our partners at the School Nutrition Association’s annual convention to show how USDA Foods are increasingly vital to the health of our nation’s schoolchildren.

The culinary demo was led by local chef and Nashville public school dad David Owens, who wowed convention attendees and members of the media with baked chicken in fruit sauce, vegetarian chili, and vegetable rice. But the exhibition was about more than creating great tasting meals. Along with Nashville Education and Training Coordinator Deborah Walker, Chef Owens emphasized practicing safe and healthy preparation, choosing reasonably priced options, and integrating ingredients relevant and appealing to the modern school nutrition program. Read more »

Veterans Find Unexpected Opportunities at AMS

When it comes time to transition from service in the military to a civilian job, many veterans do not immediately think to look for positions at the USDA.  There is an assumption that jobs with USDA are all farm-related – even those in the Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS).   In reality, there is a wide variety of opportunities within AMS and USDA as a whole.

There are a number of jobs at AMS that overlap with different military specializations.  The agency has auditors who evaluate programs to make sure producers follow international standards and practices.  Positions in compliance and analysis, budget analysis, and information technology rely on skills like attention to detail and effective project management that are an essential part of armed services training. Read more »

Soil Sleuth Gets Historical Marker in Louisa, VA

NRCS Chief Dave White and Dr. Maurice Cook applaud as Hugh Hammond Bennett, III, his wife Nina Bennett, and his brother, Robert Bennett view the newly unveiled historical marker.

NRCS Chief Dave White and Dr. Maurice Cook applaud as Hugh Hammond Bennett, III, his wife, Nina Bennett, and his brother, Robert Bennett view the newly unveiled historical marker.

Why does land wear out? This great agricultural mystery led generations of farmers to simply move when the land no longer supported agricultural production. That changed in 1905, when a soil scientist unearthed the key to sustained productivity by linking soil erosion and degradation of soil quality. Read more »