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Stakeholders Provide Suggestions on How USDA Can Better Serve Rural America

On Wednesday, USDA Rural Development (RD) Indiana convened a stakeholder outreach meeting to discuss Rural Development priorities for President Obama’s 2013 budget and 2012 Farm Bill.  The meeting was held to provide our agency with valuable input as it develops mission area priorities for the upcoming fiscal year.

Over 50 attendees discussed and shared ideology on how Rural Development can enhance program administration and delivery to ensure that rural communities are able to access the critical programs and resources that Rural Development has to offer. Read more »

Transfer of Funds Will Help Meet Urgent Credit Needs of Producers

Harvesting hay from a field that is being farmed along the contour of the land.  FSA loan programs provide America's farm families with the support they need to feed America and the world. This is a USDA photo from NRCS.

Harvesting hay from a field that is being farmed along the contour of the land. FSA loan programs provide America's farm families with the support they need to feed America and the world. This is a USDA photo from NRCS.

More help is on the way for producers.

In an announcement earlier this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said a high demand for farm ownership and direct farm operating funds has prompted USDA to transfer appropriated funds between programs to meet the urgent credit needs of producers. Read more »

Rural Champion Works to Improve Views of Sustainable Agriculture

Linda Barnes, Farmer and Educator, Marshalltown Community College, Iowa

Linda Barnes, Farmer and Educator, Marshalltown Community College, Iowa

Cross posted from the White House Rural Champions of Change website:

Linda Barnes is a professor of biology at the Marshalltown Community College and also an organic farmer. Read more »

APHIS Veterinary Medical Officer Protects not Just Chickens, but People Too

Hello, my name is Dr. Chrislyn Wood Nicholson and I’m a Poultry Specialist with USDA’s Animal Plant Healthy Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services (VS). I’ve worked for APHIS since 2004 as a veterinarian, but my relationship with this agency began even earlier. As a student, I was a recipient of APHIS’ Saul T. Wilson Jr. scholarship for students interested in veterinary medicine, which helped me get through school.

Why did I become a vet?  I have always loved animals and science when I was growing up and a veterinary career seemed like a good way to combine my interests. I now get to help both animals and people every day. Read more »

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Urges Philanthropists to “Step Up and Take Risks”

One of the great things about being Secretary of Agriculture is that I get to see first-hand how truly vast our great nation is.  It’s been my privilege to represent USDA and President Obama from Alaska to Florida and from North Dakota to New Mexico.  Of course, I also spend quite a bit of time in the Midwest.  The scope of rural America is truly awesome, and so are the challenges we face as we work to create jobs and improve the quality of rural life.

Earlier this week, I delivered the keynote address at the Council on Foundations Rural Philanthropy Conference in Kansas City, and I urged those in attendance to work hand-in-hand with us, our counterparts in state and local government, faith based organizations and non-profits to bring substantial, sustainable improvement to rural living conditions in small, rural communities across the country. Read more »

Forests Inside Out!

Forests Inside Out! is a partnership of the U.S. Forest Service, World Forestry Center, and the Inner City Youth Institute. The program’s activities are structured around “Project Learning Tree,” a nationally recognized curriculum that is aimed at fostering an understanding of how forests and the environment work. Partially funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, it provides outdoor education opportunities to students from underserved communities.

“Nothing compares to getting students outside,” said Rob Pierce, education director with the World Forestry Center, one of the program’s sponsors. “And, it’s important to give those who have never had the opportunity a chance to make that connection.” Read more »