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A Louisiana Bank Leverages USDA Rural Development Funds to Build a Hotel and Create Jobs

Recently, about 150 people came out to show their support for the new Hampton Inn & Suites of Marksville at their grand opening in Avoyelles Parish in Louisiana. USDA Rural Development State Director Clarence W. Hawkins joined Thomas G. Christopoulos (owner) along with representatives from Cenla Chambers of Commerce; Daniel Decuir, Marksville Mayor Pro Tem; and other dignitaries to introduce the new 77 room hotel to the city. The hotel will provide an estimated 15 new jobs for area residents.

“Rural Development will continue to invest in the development of our rural communities throughout the State of Louisiana,” said State Director Hawkins. This new hotel will impact the Town of Marksville by creating jobs, furnishing accommodations for the overflow of visitors and it is the first brand name hotel to come to Marksville, Louisiana. Read more »

Restoring Native White and Red Pine Plant Communities in Minnesota

Rieber Paulson monitoring the growth on a 5-year old white pine.

Rieber Paulson monitoring the growth on a 5-year old white pine.

Rieber Paulson knew part of his 40-acre forest in Northern Minnesota needed to be harvested.  He also had a vision of what the area should eventually look like. Read more »

Meeting with Illinois Business Leaders in Springfield

This past week, I had the chance to sit down with about 20 business leaders in central Illinois to hear their views on ways we can improve the nation’s economy, especially from the agriculture industry perspective.  The meeting was part of a series of outreach efforts across the country this summer to rural Americans as part of the White House Business Council and the White House Rural Council.

I want to thank Tim McArdle of Brandt Consolidated, Inc., who leads a successful agri-business in Springield, IL that helps farmers adopt new technologies for their operations.  We gathered representatives from many local businesses and had a frank and open discussion about the role of the Federal government in creating a business environment that encourages job growth and improves economic conditions in the agricultural sector and rural communities. Read more »

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service Helps Virginia Ag Exporters Thrive in Asia

Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore discussed aquaculture with business developers outside of Shanghai, China. Haymore was a key member of a delegation from Virginia who recently embarked on a trade mission to Asia, which was supported by Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) employees assigned to the region.

Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore discussed aquaculture with business developers outside of Shanghai, China. Haymore was a key member of a delegation from Virginia who recently embarked on a trade mission to Asia, which was supported by Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) employees assigned to the region.

Helping American farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses gain and maintain access to international markets is one of the most important roles of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). Read more »

Food, Fun, and Sun! Summer Food Service Program Story and Photo Contest

A participant enjoys an apple fresh from the tree during a Boys and Girls Club field trip to a local farm.

A participant enjoys an apple fresh from the tree during a Boys and Girls Club field trip to a local farm.

Summer is in full swing, and it’s time for some healthy competition!  Around the country, local organizations from churches to community centers are busy serving meals to kids through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), a federally-funded program that provides free, nutritious meals and snacks to help children in low-income areas get the nutrition they need throughout the summer months when school is not in session. Read more »

Going Green with Rural Development

Use of wind turbines for renewable energy production on Midwestern farms is on the rise. Photo courtesy of USDA Rural Development.

Use of wind turbines for renewable energy production on Midwestern farms is on the rise. Photo courtesy of USDA Rural Development.

As more Americans strive to be eco-friendly and environmentally conscious, the buzz surrounding renewable energy has exploded.  Millions across the country already do their part every day to recycle, reduce carbon emissions and make the earth a little bit greener, but how can you do more?  Rural Development has programs available to provide funding for renewable energy projects.  Here’s a glimpse of the investments made in renewable energy thanks to partnerships between our agency and the rural individuals and businesses dedicated to creating a cleaner world: Read more »