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Minnesota Couple Recognized by USDA for Years of Dedication to Affordable Rural Housing

In December of 2009 an apartment building owned by Rodney and Betty Hestekin sustained major damage in a fire. The building had been financed through USDA Rural Development’s Multi-Family Housing program. All 18 tenants living in the building were displaced.

Rodney and Betty immediately sprang into action. They worked with tenants to ensure that each found a temporary place to live. They also worked to make sure the building was repaired as quickly as possible so tenants could move back in and return to life as it was before the fire. Read more »

USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Visits Arkansas To Assess Damages and Discuss Available Assistance

Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager was in Marvell, Arkansas, on Friday to meet with over 150 people that have been affected by recent disasters. Tonsager discussed the assistance that USDA can provide to help residents, farmers, ranchers and businesses that have been hard hit by the recent floods in Arkansas and assured the crowd that their concerns would be conveyed to Washington.

Rural Development provides the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with regular information as to vacant units in multi-family housing complexes financed by the agency, and following a Presidential disaster declaration, FEMA can assist with placement vouchers to cover short-term rental costs. USDA offers a variety of resources for states and individuals affected by the recent disasters. Read more »

USDA to Louisiana Flood Victims: We Are Here For You

U.S. Department of Agriculture Acting Under Secretary Farm and Foreign Agriculture Service Michael Scuse speaks with following an outreach event on the Mississippi River levee at Vidalia, LA, on Thursday, May 19, 2011. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Acting Under Secretary Farm and Foreign Agriculture Service Michael Scuse speaks with an area resident following an outreach event on the Mississippi River levee at Vidalia, LA, on Thursday, May 19, 2011. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

The levee along the Mississippi River was busy with activity on Thursday, May 19. USDA Under Secretaries for Rural Development, Dallas Tonsager, and the Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Service, Michael Scuse along with Rural Development Louisiana State Director Clarence W. Hawkins and other USDA agencies, Southern University and LSU Agricultural Centers personnel, Congressional offices representatives, other governmental and local entities came together for residents and concerned citizens on the levee of the Mississippi River in Vidalia, Louisiana. Read more »

USDA-APHIS Contributes to Endangered Species Protection

On Friday, May 20, thousands of people throughout the United States will celebrate Endangered Species Day.  It is an opportunity to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and the everyday actions people can take to help protect our nation’s natural resources.

Each year, wildlife researchers and specialists with USDA-APHIS’ Wildlife Services (WS) program help to reduce threats to our Nation’s more vulnerable animals and habitats. In FY 2010, WS efforts assisted 131 threatened or endangered species in 36 States, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Cuba. Examples of WS work with endangered and threatened species include the following: Read more »

Feeding South San Antonio Is a Labor of Love and a Product of Partnership

Food Banks across the country help millions of families in need keep their kitchen cabinets from going empty. Much of the food given out comes from donations; however USDA’s Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program, or TEFAP, helps food banks stretch their donations by making USDA commodity foods available to local agencies. Those State agencies distribute the food to aid organizations like food banks who serve the public whether directly or via partners like churches.

This is just the dynamic in south San Antonio, Texas where low income families benefit from the strong long term partnership between the San Antonio Food Bank and South San Filadelfia Baptist Church.  The food bank supplies the church’s pantry—an integral part of getting food to families that need it the most. Read more »

Navajo Nation Veterinary Stockpile Exercise

On April 27, I was honored to accompany President Shelley of the Navajo Nation for the National Veterinary Stockpile (NVS) exercise held in Window Rock.  The NVS exercise provides countermeasures – supplies, equipment, medicine, vaccines and response support services – that states and Tribes need to respond to foreign animal disease outbreaks.

This exercise with the Navajo Nation marks the first Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)-sponsored full-scale exercise on Tribal lands.  I want to acknowledge the enthusiasm and commitment of Tribal personnel to gain experience and identify gaps, shortfalls, limitations that could impair the Navajo Nation’s ability to receive, store and distribute NVS countermeasures in a real emergency. Read more »