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Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Announces Small Business Development and Job Creation Support for Rural Pennsylvania

Recently, I joined USDA, Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl Cook, employees of The Progress Fund, and several of their loan recipients for a funding announcement under  Rural Development’s Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP).  RMAP was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill and the program is already helping many small rural businesses.   Under the program, funds are provided to an intermediary who “re-lends” to entrepreneurs.   Deputy Under Secretary Cook announced that The Progress Fund, in Greensburg, Westmoreland County, has been awarded a loan and a grant through the program.  The Progress Fund has made more than 97 microloans in rural areas.  It is expected the assistance provided by this funding will help create or save over 22 jobs. Following the announcement, we all enjoyed products from Emerald Valley Artisans, including a test sample of the new Hills Tavern Blue cheese. Read more »

Farm Producers Meet USDA Officials at Virginia State University

With the thoughts of spring planting on their minds, over 200 farm producers and local agricultural staff discussed the many ways USDA can strengthen the partnership between small farmers and the USDA agencies that serve them.

Eleven different USDA agencies converged earlier this month at the Douglas Wilder Building, on the campus of Virginia State University (VSU) to talk business and program assistance. From topics such as how to market locally grown foods in your community to grant writing were cover during the conference. A local grower’s panel was the highlight again this year; where four USDA recipients shared time with the group during the general session, to “in their own words” explain how they utilized different USDA programs to improve their community or individual operations profit margins. Read more »

One Year Later – How Has the Affordable Care Act Helped You?

It’s no secret that Americans in rural areas sometimes struggle to get the health care they need.  Whether it’s a farmer losing his health insurance because he has no good choices or a mom putting off treatment because it’s too expensive, or hard to find a doctor nearby, rural Americans too often go without critical preventive care – and pay more out of pocket they receive. Read more »

El Evento de MALDEF se Enfoca a Mejorar la Calidad de Vida de las Comunidades Latinas

El representar a USDA en un panel durante la Cuarta Conferencia Anual del Estado de la Unión Latina de MALDEF en Washington, D.C. fue una experiencia inigualable. El evento examinó cómo las políticas públicas del país afectan a la comunidad Latina y cómo las políticas futuras pueden proveer una mejor calidad de vida para los Latinos.

Aunque la discusión cubrió un gran gama de temas de interés para la comunidad, gran parte de la conversación se enfocó en la obesidad infantil y el impacto que esta tiene en la educación, el talento y el futuro de la fuerza laboral no solo de los Latinos pero de toda la nación. Read more »

MALDEF Event Focuses on Improving Quality of Life in Latino Communities

Representing USDA on a panel at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s (MALDEF) Fourth Annual Latino State of the Union in Washington, D.C. was a remarkable experience. The event examined how American public policy affects the Latino community, and assessed how future policy can lead to a better quality of life for Latinos.

While the discussions covered a range of topics important to the Hispanic community, much of conversation was dedicated to how childhood obesity is impacting educational attainment, future talent, and workforce capacity of not just Latinos, but of our entire nation. Read more »

USDA Partners with a Neighborhood Nonprofit Housing Corporation to Help Utah Families Build their Own Homes

Congratulations were in order for fourteen Cache Valley families in Utah who have a place to call their own after building their own homes through the Self Help Program (MSHP) sponsored by USDA Rural Development.   Neighborhood Nonprofit Housing Corporation in Logan runs the program that helps put limited income families in affordable homes through government supported mortgage loans and sweat equity.

Congressman Rob Bishop was the keynote speaker at the ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday, wishing the families the best and thanking them for all they are doing. Read more »