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Western North Dakota USDA ‘Great Regions’ Job Creation Success Hailed by Local Residents

Earlier this month, acting USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Doug O’Brien heard one testimonial after another from a variety of people who thanked the federal government for providing funding and services to a portion of western North Dakota that was hard hit by outmigration two decades ago.

The area has been designated one of seven “Great Regions” in the nation by USDA Rural Development.  However, sixteen years prior it was named a Rural Economic Area Partnership or a “REAP” pilot project by then-Senator Byron Dorgan.  On February 16, a celebration was held in Dickinson that attracted the non-profit’s board members, community leaders, business owners, and USDA personnel who provided technical assistance over the years. Read more »

New Foreign Service Officers to Face Unique Challenges in Promoting U.S. Agriculture Abroad

This week, seven Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) employees were sworn in as Foreign Service Officers during a ceremony at USDA in Washington, D.C. This group of newly minted Foreign Service Officers will be posted in locales around the world, from Moscow to Brasilia, in their first positions in USDA’s overseas offices. FAS officers begin their Foreign Service careers as attachés.

FAS Administrator John Brewer officiated the ceremony and was joined by Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Deputy Under Secretary Darci Vetter. In what is their first step in a long and successful career in the Foreign Service, Brewer and Vetter presented each new officer with a flag representing the country in which they will be posted. Read more »

Rural Business Administrator Tours Renewable Energy, Regional Food Projects in Massachusetts

USDA Rural Business Administrator Judy Canales joined State Director Jay Healy recently for discussions about, and tours of, three Rural Development financed projects currently underway in Massachusetts.   Their first stop was at Berkshire East Ski Area in Charlemont, where the Administrator led a roundtable discussion about USDA’s renewable energy initiatives and celebrated the installation of a new, 900kW wind turbine at the ski area.

Rural Development provided Berkshire East a loan guarantee through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).  The funds were used, in conjunction with commercial financing through Greenfield Savings Bank and State Clean Energy Center grants, to purchase and install the wind turbine at the family-owned ski area. Read more »

Oregon State University Researchers Tackle Obesity in Rural America

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the U.S. Department of Agriculture blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the agency’s rich science and research portfolio.

Rural America is often portrayed in Hollywood as an idyllic place where kids can run free, ride their bikes and pick fresh food out of gardens. The reality is that rural communities face challenges that are different than those experienced in urban areas – especially challenges that contribute to rising childhood obesity levels among rural youth. Despite a perception of abundant resources, including land for growing food and active recreation, rural children face a lack of access to and availability of fresh and nutritious foods, and the distances between destinations makes it difficult to walk or bike and participate in structured and unstructured physical activity programs. Read more »

With Support from USDA Rural Development a South Dakota Company Expands

Through passion, hard work, and support from USDA Rural Development, Legend Air Suspensions has become a national and international success.  Rural Development South Dakota State Director Elsie M. Meeks and Area Director Tim Potts visited the owner Jesse Jurrens recently to celebrate the accomplishments of his business, Independent Cycle Inc., dba Legend Air Suspensions.

USDA assisted the business through a Business and Industry Guaranteed loan in conjunction with First National Bank, Sturgis, South Dakota.  Mr. Jurrens credits his refinance with the help of Rural Development, increased efficiencies, dedicated employees and internal cost saving measures that made the business not only stabilize but grow their net income this last year. Read more »

Kickoff ‘New Markets, New Jobs’ Event Puts Small and Medium-Sized Agribusinesses in the Spotlight

Yesterday, I was honored to represent the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the ‘New Markets, New Jobs’ conference held at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Minnesota is one of our agricultural trade leaders, ranking sixth among all 50 states for U.S. farm exports, generating nearly $8 billion in economic activity from agricultural trade.  This made it the perfect setting to launch a year-long, multi-city campaign focused on supporting our nation’s small and medium-sized businesses as they face the many challenges of global trade. Read more »