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Diversity within a South Dakota Rural Community

USDA Rural Development in South Dakota is interested in learning about and working with other cultures.  To enhance employee understanding, Mark Heuston, Director of Human Resources with Dakota Provisions, a turkey processing firm, was invited to USDA offices recently to make a presentation on the topic of diversity.

Dakota Provisions talent and expertise on working with diverse groups from several cultures is becoming well known throughout the South Dakota business world.  Most notable, is their success in recruiting Myanmar (Burmese) immigrants, “The Karen” to work in various positions throughout the processing plant located in Huron, SD.

The Karens are members of indigenous minority ethnic groups which reside primarily in southern and southeastern Myanmar. Some members have come to the United States recently.   Mr. Heuston educated staff on the Karen culture, the intricate process involved with them leaving Myanmar, and the transition to a life of personal enrichment in the United States – work, home, family, church, and community. Read more »

Birdstrikes at Homestead Air Force Base Down 90% Thanks to USDA

The mission of USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services is to provide expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts and allow people and wildlife to coexist.  During my recent trip to South Florida I toured Homestead Airbase and learned firsthand about an extremely valuable service provided by APHIS-WS that most folks are not familiar with.

The APHIS-WS team provides recommendations on habitat conditions and wildlife management techniques that help reduce wildlife hazards to aviation.  As a result, birdstrikes at Homestead have been reduced by over 90%.  This valuable service continues to protect the aviators and 26 F-16 Fighter jets housed there. Read more »

Funding Helps Farmers’ Markets That Want to Participate in SNAP

Farmers Markets offer in season, local produce to communities nationwide.

Farmers Markets offer in season, local produce to communities nationwide.

Promoting access to fresh and nutritious foods for the millions of Americans who participate in nutrition assistance programs is a top priority for USDA. We’re happy to announce that we’re emphasizing our commitment to promoting healthy food choices by giving more SNAP participants the ability to spend their benefits at farmers’ markets. Starting this month, we are making $4 million dollars in funds available to equip farmers’ markets with wireless point-of-sale equipment. Read more »

El Cinco de Mayo Somos Uno: We’re One USDA

Dándoles la bienvenida a nuestro kiosko Somos Uno: We’re One USDA

Dándoles la bienvenida a nuestro kiosko Somos Uno: We’re One USDA

Este sábado pasado, el Departamento de Agricultura (USDA por sus siglas en inglés) participó en la celebración del vigésimo aniversario del Festival Nacional del Cinco de Mayo® ¡Salud en Cinco de Mayo! patrocinado por la Liga de Ciudadanos Latinoamericanos Unidos (LULAC, por sus siglas en inglés) y la compañía de danza Maru Montero.  USDA unió esfuerzos con LULAC, con quienes trabajamos en el reclutamiento de profesionales hispanos, en el tema de nutrición en la comunidad y a través de la iniciativa de la Primera Dama Let’s Move!

Al lado de otros representantes del gobierno federal, nuestro Subsecretario de Mercadeo y Programas Regulatorios Ed Avalos brindó palabras de bienvenida y resaltó un mensaje de herencia cultural y de salud durante esta celebración. Sam Kass, Chef de la Casa Blanca y Asesor de la Primera Dama en materia de alimentos saludables también estuvo presente. Read more »

On Cinco de Mayo Somos Uno: We’re One USDA

Welcoming visitors to our Somos Uno: We’re One USDA booth

Welcoming visitors to our Somos Uno: We’re One USDA booth

This past Saturday, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) participated in the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the National Cinco de Mayo Festival® ¡Salud en Cinco de Mayo!, sponsored by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Maru Montero Dance Company.  USDA partnered with LULAC, with whom we work on the recruitment of Hispanic professionals, promoting nutrition in the community, and on the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative.

Along with other representatives of the federal government, our Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Ed Avalos, gave welcoming remarks and emphasized a message of cultural heritage and health during this celebration.  Sam Kass, White House Chef and Senior Advisor Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives for the First Lady, was also present. Read more »

Energy Stakeholders Comment on USDA Energy Roadmap

During the previous 18 months, a team of USDA multidisciplinary experts reviewed, analyzed, and synthesized almost 1,000 responses from stakeholders about its June 2010 report that put forth a roadmap for the United States to produce advanced biofuels.  The roadmap report provided a basis for continued conversations about moving forward with producing more domestically grown fuels and reducing our dependence on foreign fossil fuels, improving the environment, and revitalizing rural communities.

Following the roadmap report, USDA held 57 stakeholder workshops in 41 States and Puerto Rico.   The workshops succeeded in gathering numerous and helpful comments from farmers, industry groups, biorefinery executives, and academia.   Stakeholder comments, as a whole, successfully broadened the view of the roadmap by providing additional information and insights.  The majority of comments echoed USDA’s conclusion that this nation has the natural resources to produce enough domestically grown biofuels.  The key to success, according to the comments, lies in a few critical areas that include: consistent policy support from the public sector, greater consumer awareness, utilization of a wide variety of feedstocks, sustainable conservation and cropping practices, and more recognition and use of forestry and wood products. Read more »