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Big Sky – Big Opportunities

This morning I had the opportunity to start my day in Big Sky Country where I was invited by Senator Jon Tester to participate in the Small Business Opportunity Workshop hosted at Montana State University.

We have a full house here having reached capacity at 150 attendees with another 80 RSVPs still arriving.  Clearly the word is out on our workshop and the farmers and ranchers of Montana are eager to hear about job creation and economic development opportunities here in the state. Read more »

Delaware Kid Chefs Learn Prepare Tasty, Nutritious, and Budget-Friendly Meals

Tanyah Ramos and Caylie Bain scramble eggs in the first step of a healthy fried rice recipe they are learning through the KID CHEF program sponsored by the Food Bank of Delaware.

Tanyah Ramos and Caylie Bain scramble eggs in the first step of a healthy fried rice recipe they are learning through the KID CHEF program sponsored by the Food Bank of Delaware.

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

About a year ago Beverly Jackey, the community nutritionist for the Food Bank of Delaware, came up with a unique way of teaching kids to eat healthy.  Jackey believed that children are more willing to try nutritious new foods when they are involved in preparing them.  So Jackey and the Food Bank created a program called KID CHEF, which stands for Cooking Healthy Easy Food. Read more »

Harnessing Forest Service Programs to Support Local and Regional Food Systems

When people think about USDA they usually think of the Farm Service Agency loan officer helping a farmer finance a new tractor, the Extension agent explaining the latest research to a rancher, or the Rural Development employee bringing broadband to a rural community.  But few would realize our largest agency is not directly responsible for our farms, but rather our forests.

The Forest Service manages 193 million acres of forests and range lands, and helps States, Tribes, and communities manage an additional 500 million acres – together about 30% of the United States!  Through its work in managing and protecting these lands the Forest Service also plays a critical, even if often overlooked, role in local and regional food systems. Read more »

Thoughts on Joint Base Balad, Iraq

JC Griffin on the scene at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

JC Griffin on the scene at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

After a rather interesting C-130 tactical landing to avoid enemy fire, my first sight of Iraq was at night.  My first thought was how far I was from home, but a gaze upward revealed familiar stars and constellations. I felt relieved knowing that I was still indeed on planet Earth–even after traveling for 50 hours. Read more »

Pennsylvania USDA Recovery Act Sewer Project to Benefit Homeowners

A ceremonial groundbreaking for the Municipal Authority of the Township of Washington’s Phase II Sewer Project in Pennsylvania marked an important day for almost 1,700 local residents. Congressman Mark Critz, officials from USDA Rural Development, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers participated in the groundbreaking.

Phase II of the sewer construction project is funded through a Rural Development American Recovery and Reinvestment Act loan administered by the Water and Environmental Program and  U.S. Army Corp of Engineers funding. Phase II will provide sewer to the areas of Washington Heights, Arnold City, and Lynnwood. These areas are currently served by malfunctioning on-lot sewage systems, allowing raw or partially treated sewage to be discharged to yards, roadside ditches, roadways and nearby streams, posing a constant threat of bacterial contamination for the area residents, as well as fish, wildlife and downstream property owners. Read more »

Harnessing NRCS Programs to Support Local and Regional Food Systems

When we launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative,  I asked each agency to take a realistic look at their programs for opportunities to better support farmers trying to access local and regional markets.  Since then, we have been excited to be able to share details and concrete examples on how programs in our Rural Development and Research, Education, and Economics mission areas and the Farm Service Agency and Agricultural Marketing Service are able to do so. Read more »