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Continued Recovery for America’s Agricultural Economy

Cross-posted from the White House Blog

Yesterday I was pleased to receive the encouraging news from two USDA reports that illustrate the strength of the recovery in our agricultural economy. The 2010 Farm Income Forecast and Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade show a positive picture for 2010, and predict sustained growth for the future.  Read more »

Secretary Vilsack Visits the San Antonio Food Bank

Secretary Vilsack surveys product donated to the San Antonio Food Bank with USDA FNS Southwest Regional Administrator Bill Ludwig and San Antonio Food Bank Executive Director Eric Cooper.

Secretary Vilsack surveys product donated to the San Antonio Food Bank with USDA FNS Southwest Regional Administrator Bill Ludwig and San Antonio Food Bank Executive Director Eric Cooper.

On August 23, Secretary Vilsack visited the San Antonio Food Bank, which – with the help of USDA and the Recovery Act – is assisting the needy during these difficult economic times.   Read more »

An Iowa Community Uses USDA Recovery Act Support to Build a New Hospital

City officials joined representatives from USDA Rural Development last month to break ground for a hospital expansion project in Belmond, Iowa.

City officials joined representatives from USDA Rural Development last month to break ground for a hospital expansion project in Belmond, Iowa.

Providing families with quality healthcare and education is at the heart of what makes rural America a great place to live. The pulse around the community of Belmond in north central Iowa couldn’t be beating any stronger.

I had the pleasure of making a trip to Belmond last month to celebrate the groundbreaking for the expansion of the Belmond Medical Center.  On my way to the hospital I couldn’t help but admire the new elementary school and softball and baseball complex, along with the renovations at the high school. Read more »

Midwest Region People’s Garden Starts Accepting SNAP Card

Windy City Harvest Staff processes an Illinois LINK card with the garden’s new EBT Machine at the Midwest Region's People's Garden.

Windy City Harvest Staff processes an Illinois LINK card with the garden’s new EBT Machine at the Midwest Region's People's Garden.

Recently, fellow staff member, Victor Ho, and I ventured out to the Midwest Region’s People’s Garden on the west side of Chicago. It was a sunny, 80 degree day and we were ready to harvest a bumper crop of vegetables. We also wanted to check out the garden’s new wireless Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system which enabled the garden to begin accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamp Program) benefits—the first USDA People’s Garden to do so! Read more »

Recovery Act USDA Community Facilities Funds Help Residents of Northern Wisconsin Receive Improved Dental Care

Thousands of limited income residents of northern Wisconsin now have access to quality dental care with support from USDA, the Community Facilities Program and the Recovery Act.

Thousands of limited income residents of northern Wisconsin now have access to quality dental care with support from USDA, the Community Facilities Program and the Recovery Act.

For people living in Northern Wisconsin, oral healthcare often gets neglected.  The expense of visiting a dentist and the distance required to travel to receive quality care are factors that have made it difficult for rural Wisconsinites to receive the care they require.  Family Health Center of Marshfield, Inc. has seen this essential need in Wisconsin’s rural communities and has made it their mission to find a solution to provide greater access to proper dental care.  Read more »

Farmers Markets as Small Business Incubators

Friday Farmers Market at the USDA.

Friday Farmers Market at the USDA.

Last Sunday, CBS News featured USDA Deputy Secretary Merrigan and discussed how farmers markets are part of a fundamental shift in the way people access their food and interact with their community.  And, as the story notes, “… [f]armers markets and other forms of selling straight to customers are helping to keep farmers in business,” which is why those of us at the Agriculture Marketing Service were excited to report that there are now 6,100-plus farmers markets, recognizing that these markets provide jobs and economic growth opportunities for their producers.

Farmers markets are a unique business structure: lower overhead costs and direct and valued contact with their customer base make for innovative and responsive farmers that can experiment with offering new items more easily.  If a producer is able to find the right product mix for consumer demand, they can develop a sound business, create new jobs, and grow successfully. Read more »