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Pennwood Farms Watches Electricity and Bedding Costs Disappear

Tucked away in the hillsides of Somerset County, Pennwood Farms is seeing great results from its new methane digester. The 600-cow dairy farm is owned by four brothers who installed the digester in April of this year with the help of a $264,450 USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) loan, a $264,574 REAP grant and $475,274 in PA Energy Development Authority funding. The digester produces biogas to power a 180-kilowatt engine-generator, providing more than enough electricity to meet the farm’s needs. In addition to electricity, the digester also produces fertilizer and cow bedding, saving the farm over $60,000 per year in bedding costs.

Rural Development’s REAP loan and grant to Pennwood Farms are excellent examples of funding that contributes to making farm operations more energy efficient and economical. This funding for renewable energy projects helps rebuild and revitalize rural America. Read more »

Off-Road Bicycle Trail Renovated on the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida

In conjunction with National Bike Month, the National Forests in Florida celebrated the renovation of the Munson Hills Off-Road Bicycle Trail on the Apalachicola National Forest. The project was funded by the Recovery Act.

The ribbon-cutting event in Bristol, Fla., was attended by an enthusiastic crowd. Guest speaker Jim Wood of the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails kicked off the ceremony. Recognition was given to those individuals who contributed to the restoration and renovation of the trails by Deputy District Ranger Harold Shenk. Following the ceremony, a group bicycle ride was led by the Tallahassee Mountain Bike Club. Read more »

Food and Faith: Setting a Safe and Healthy Table

More than 200 employees and community members gathered at USDA headquarters to mark the Department’s 3rd annual Iftar dinner.  The theme of the evening was food safety, and Under Secretary for Food Safety, Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, provided keynote remarks.

More than 200 employees and community members gathered at USDA headquarters to mark the Department’s 3rd annual Iftar dinner. The theme of the evening was food safety, and Under Secretary for Food Safety, Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, provided keynote remarks.

Last week we were honored to host USDA’s 3rd annual Iftar commemorating the month of Ramadan and the contributions of USDA’s Muslim employees.  More than 200 attendees, including USDA employees, Muslim community members, and representatives from faith-based and secular non-profit organizations, gathered at USDA headquarters for an evening with a themed focus on “Food and Faith: Setting a Safe and Healthy Table.” Read more »

With Aid of TASC Grant, South Carolina and Georgia Exports to Mexico are Looking Peachy

South Carolina-grown peaches are boxed and ready to be shipped to Mexico. The Mexican market opened to Georgia and South Carolina peaches for the first time in 17 years earlier this year thanks in part to a grant from the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) program. (Photos courtesy of South Carolina Peach Council)

South Carolina-grown peaches are boxed and ready to be shipped to Mexico. The Mexican market opened to Georgia and South Carolina peaches for the first time in 17 years earlier this year thanks in part to a grant from the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) program. (Photos courtesy of South Carolina Peach Council)

In a scene that’s a telltale sign of summer across the southern United States, farmers’ markets and grocery stores are now proudly declaring that they are stocked with ripe, delicious, American-grown peaches.

Thanks in part to a Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) grant from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to the Georgia and South Carolina Peach councils, fresh Georgia and South Carolina peaches are now also being enjoyed by our neighbors in Mexico for the first time in 17 years. Read more »

Home on the Range

Roy and Steve Breuklander on Sunny Brook Ranch in Niobrara Valley, Nebraska.

Roy and Steve Breuklander on Sunny Brook Ranch in Niobrara Valley, Nebraska.

Cowboys are known for being good story tellers, and Roy and Steve Breuklander are no exceptions.

Roy might tell you how his grandparents homesteaded in Cherry County back in the 1880s. Roy’s son, Steve, might share how his family started one of the first canoe outfitters in Niobrara Valley. Read more »

Greater Economic Opportunities for Rural Communities

Secretary Vilsack took questions from farmers and rural community and business leaders at a recent White House Rural Forum at the Iowa State Fair.

Secretary Vilsack took questions from farmers and rural community and business leaders at a recent White House Rural Forum at the Iowa State Fair.

Last week as I walked around the Iowa State Fair, I was reminded about the power of philanthropy.  The Iowa State Fair’s Blue Ribbon Foundation has raised more than $80 million since its inception in 1993 and helped make numerous facilities improvements all around the fairgrounds including: a new exhibition center, a remodeled food center and an animal-learning center. Read more »