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Florida Food Hub Ready to Flourish with USDA Support

Back in 1947, nearly one-third of the labor force worked on farms. In those days if you didn’t have a relative who worked on a farm, you knew someone who did. As time and technology progressed and jobs moved from farms to factories, generations began to lose their connection to agriculture and the land as the source of their food. Currently, there is too much distance between consumers and those who produce their food.

But, there is also hope for those of us working to rebuild this critical connection. Last Friday I presented a $175,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) to provide critical access to credit to a group of small family farmers who are building a bridge to consumers and stimulating the local economy through local foods. This project is a great example of how USDA Rural Development programs can advance the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. Read more »

Finding Common Points Across Cultures and Continents

By Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan

On Friday afternoon, I had the opportunity to meet with some inspiring African businesswomen who are visiting the United States for the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum. This unique group of 36 successful women is here to participate in a two week fellowship training program that will introduce them to American trading partners and investors, expose them to American advocacy, and business models and will offer extended support to them when they return to their countries. Read more »

USDA and Sports—An Uncommon Link

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

By Tara Weaver-Missick, Branch Chief, with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

Summer field sports are under way, and sports fans around the world are having spirited discussions on their favorite team’s chances of winning.  A key factor of sports success is the condition of the field, and USDA scientists are just as interested in those field conditions—but from the angle of fighting the bugs that could be eating the field! Read more »

USDA Rural Development Provides Grant Funds for a Maine Grange Hall Renovation to Process and Distribute Local Farm Products

By Virginia Manuel, USDA Maine Rural Development State Director

USDA Rural Development provided a Rural Business Enterprise Grant to assist the Maine Alternative Agriculture Association (MA3) to renovate the former Grange Hall in Starks into a modern facility for processing and distributing local farm products.

An open house was held on July 28th to celebrate the completion of the project, which now includes a new kitchen and cold storage facility.  The association will contract with local farmers to provide farm products that will be collected, processed and distributed from the new facility.  The farm products will be ‘beyond organic’ by emphasizing sound soil management as well as being pesticide free. Read more »

Midwest Region Conference Gets States Energized about SNAP

By Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary

I recently spoke at the BIG TEN conference in Minneapolis. The BIG TEN is a USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) sponsored event focused on improving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) performance at the state and local level. Participants are from the Midwest States: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.  In the past few years, they’ve worked with decreasing resources while managing an increasing workload. So when I walked into a room full of dancing and cheering human service workers, I was taken aback. The energy was just incredible! Read more »

Arizona Rural Development State Director Alan Stephens Joins Congresswoman Kirkpatrick to Announce $10 Million Recovery Act Broadband Project for San Carlos Apaches

By Nancy Conway, USDA Rural Development, Arizona

A group was on hand for Arizona Rural Development State Director Alan Stephens announcement that the San Carlos Apache Telecommunications Utility, Inc. (SCATUI) will receive a grant of $5.2 million and a low-interest loan of $5.2 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act).  The loan/grant combination will be used to design, engineer, and construct a fiber-to-the-premises network to service the San Carlos and Bylas communities.  “This project will bring broadband and telephone services and will serve a hospital and several doctor facilities that are currently unserved in the San Carlos area,” said Stephens. Joining in the announcement was Arizona U.S. Representative Ann Kirkpatrick. Read more »