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USDA Official Hears Need For USDA Programs At Towns and Townships Event

“Small towns and rural communities need assistance from USDA Rural Development, now more than ever.” That was the consensus of attendees participating in a breakout session at the National Association of Towns and Townships (NATaT) annual meeting in Washington in early September. During and after the session Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Cheryl Cook heard accounts of how local Rural Development staff have made a difference in the economic health of rural communities in states including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Many described the positive impact of investments made through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act over the last two years, but expressed concern for the future. Water systems, broadband access, and fire and rescue capabilities were frequently cited as critical foundational investments every community needs. But many said finding private partners willing to lend on affordable terms is a challenge for smaller communities that have a limited tax base. Read more »

Saving Energy Never Tasted So Sweet

Inventor Rejean Laverdiere loads wood into the Hurricane Force 5 evaporator.

Inventor Rejean Laverdiere loads wood into the Hurricane Force 5 evaporator.

The Maple Guys, a two-family agricultural business in New Hampshire, was recently awarded a Conservation Innovation Grant by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The Maple Guys produces and sells maple syrup and other maple products, as well as the equipment needed to make them. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Common Sense Ideas to Create Jobs

There is no doubt that these have been tough times.  And it’s very tough for the many Americans who are looking for work.  So we’ve got to keep finding ways to help the unemployed in the short term and rebuild the middle class over the long term.

President Obama has focused on that challenge since his first day in office.  And it’s why he spoke to Congress to lay out the way forward to grow the economy and create jobs.

The American Jobs Act he proposed will have an immediate impact.  It contains common sense proposals that will create jobs now.  And it is based on bipartisan ideas that both Democrats and Republicans have supported in the past.   Read more »

Food Safety for Hamburgers and Tailgating

In anticipation of the beginning of football and tailgating season, I have put together  some of the most frequently asked questions that USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline receives about hamburgers and food safety. Whether you’re grilling burgers at home or outside the stadium, here’s what you need to know:

Do you have guidelines for buying ground beef or hamburgers?  What’s the best way to handle them?

  • Choose a package that is not torn and feels cold. If possible, put it in a plastic bag so leaking juices won’t drip on other foods.
  • Make ground beef one of the last items to go into your shopping cart. Be sure to separate raw meat from ready-cooked items in your cart.
  • Have the cashier bag raw meat separately from other items and plan to drive directly home. You may want to take a cooler with ice for perishables. Read more »

Rural Champion Uses REAP Program to Bring Power to a Nebraska Stable

Mark Timm, Colby Creek Stables Owner, Nebraska

Mark Timm, Colby Creek Stables Owner, Nebraska

Cross posted from the White House Rural Champions of Change website:

Colby Creek Stables, a horse stable facility located near Ithaca, Nebraska in Saunders County, offers a number of amenities for horses and riders, including a large indoor arena, heated barn aisles, and ventilated horse stalls. Read more »

The President’s Jobs Plan

I just went to the Capitol to hear the President address Congress about the way forward to grow the economy and create jobs.

There is no doubt that these have been tough times.  And it’s very tough for the many Americans who are looking for work.  So we’ve got to keep finding ways to help the unemployed in the short term and rebuild the middle class over the long term.

The American Jobs Act that President Obama laid out this evening will have an immediate impact.  It will create jobs now.  And it is based on bipartisan ideas that both Democrats and Republicans have supported in the past. Read more »