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Looking Back on USDA’s Recovery Efforts in Haiti

Team in field (L-R): Emmanuel Prophete, MARNDR; Emily Spiegel, FAS; Jimmy Moore, NRCS; Denise Hann, Forest Service; and Mike McGahuey, FAS assigned to USAID.

Team in field (L-R): Emmanuel Prophete, MARNDR; Emily Spiegel, FAS; Jimmy Moore, NRCS; Denise Hann, Forest Service; and Mike McGahuey, FAS assigned to USAID.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti. The earthquake devastated the already fragile and poor country, killing more than 300,000 people, and brought economic activities to a standstill leaving the capital of Port au Prince in a condition that is almost unfathomable to most Americans. In the aftermath of the disaster, the focus on the U.S. government gradually switched from response to recovery. Read more »

Philipsburg, PA Residents Enjoy Downtown Library

The Children’s Library at the New Holt Memorial Library

The Children’s Library at the New Holt Memorial Library

Glowing smiles from the residents of Philipsburg, PA adorned the scene of a ribbon cutting ceremony marking the grand opening of the new downtown location of the Holt Memorial Library on a blustery evening in January. Through $261,500 in loans and $213,500 in grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act delivered through USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program, the Holt Memorial Library finally has a home to call its own. Read more »

New Geospatial Data Service Now Available

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) proudly serves as the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. What some may not realize is that NASS provides statistical information in a variety of formats beyond the traditional paper report, which dates back more than a century.

Just yesterday, NASS launched a new geospatial data service called CropScape. Operated by my team in NASS’s Research and Development Division, CropScape significantly eases users’ access to agricultural geospatial satellite products. By applying the best practices in science and technology, this service links space and agriculture. Read more »

Hoop House Hoopla

Sometimes those of us in Washington DC take ourselves too seriously.  I’ve fallen into that trap more than once.  So, when it came time to shoot our video on the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) hoop house offering, launched last year as part of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, we decided to have some fun.  On a beautiful late November day, I joined White House chef Sam Kass to put small hoops over the garden beds at the First Lady’s garden.  This video captures the fun we had.

Dan Glickman, former Secretary of Agriculture, has always placed high value on humor.  Writing last August in the Wichita Eagle, he wrote:

One of the most underestimated tools in politics, leadership and life is a sense of humor — the ability to laugh not just at others but at ourselves. More than ever, we need humor’s deflationary influence in the nation’s capital. It’s an essential release valve, a check on all the overheated rhetoric and a bridge to real dialogue.

Mark Twain got it right when he said, “against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

Humor alone can’t solve our problems. But it can open the door to greater civility, a little more humanity and some much-needed productivity in our nation’s governance.

A Texas Winery Saves Energy and Money Thanks to USDA Grant

Photovoltaic cells recently installed at Red Caboose Winery in Texas were funded in part by a grant from USDA Rural Development

Photovoltaic cells recently installed at Red Caboose Winery in Texas were funded in part by a grant from USDA Rural Development

Red Caboose Winery, a family owned business in Meridian, Texas, was recently selected as a recipient of a USDA Rural Energy for America Program Grant.  A $15,617 grant is being used to help lower the energy costs of running the rural winery that produces 10,000 cases of wine annually. Read more »

USDA and Recovery Act Funds Make Broadband, Business Opportunities a Reality in Rural Louisiana

On February 17, 2009 President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  As a result of this Act, two Broadband groundbreaking ceremonies were held in Louisiana during the month of October.

Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu and USDA Rural Development State Director Clarence W. Hawkins along with staff members were on hand for the announcement of two major broadband projects in Washington and Morehouse Parish. “By bringing this technology to underserved areas of the state, we will better equip our students with the necessary tools needed for a better quality education,” said Hawkins. Read more »