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Hampden County, Mass. To Conduct First Healthy Incentives Pilot

One of our Nation’s most pressing health challenges today is obesity with one in three children in America either overweight or obese.  Low-income individuals are particularly at-risk.  That’s why First Lady Michelle Obama launched Let’s Move! The campaign mobilizes the combined resources of the federal government, state and local governments, foundations, business and nonprofit organizations to help solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight and live healthier lives. Read more »

USDA Guaranteed Loans Give A Michigan Auto Parts Supplier The Ability to Add New Jobs

(From left):  SMI Co-owner Jerry Carlson, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, SMI President Dodd Russell, USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan James J. Turner, and The Bank of Northern Michigan Vice President for Business Banking Wade Van Houzen.

(From left): SMI Co-owner Jerry Carlson, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, SMI President Dodd Russell, USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan James J. Turner, and The Bank of Northern Michigan Vice President for Business Banking Wade Van Houzen.

Michigan has lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs over the last few years, so it’s always nice to celebrate an occasion when we add jobs to this sector.

Earlier this week, USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan James J. Turner announced two guaranteed loans totaling $7,785,000 that will enable Skilled Manufacturing, Inc., a Traverse City manufacturing firm to hire 75 new workers.  Read more »

West Virginia Telecommunications Firm Receives Funds to Serve Rural Mountain Communities

Certificate Presentation:   Row 1 (l to r):  Hardy Telecommunications General Manager D. Scott Sherman and USDA Rural Development State Director Bobby Lewis.  Row 2 (l to r):  Gerald Smith, Board Director; Arlie W. Funk, Board Secretary; Phyllis B. Cook, Board President; Loring E. Barr, Board Vice-President; and Harold Michael, Board Member.  Row 3 (l to r):  Greg Zirk, Board Member; Chris Strovel, Field Representative for Rep. Shelley Moore Capito; and Stanley Moyer, Hardy County Commission.

Certificate Presentation: Row 1 (l to r): Hardy Telecommunications General Manager D. Scott Sherman and USDA Rural Development State Director Bobby Lewis. Row 2 (l to r): Gerald Smith, Board Director; Arlie W. Funk, Board Secretary; Phyllis B. Cook, Board President; Loring E. Barr, Board Vice-President; and Harold Michael, Board Member. Row 3 (l to r): Greg Zirk, Board Member; Chris Strovel, Field Representative for Rep. Shelley Moore Capito; and Stanley Moyer, Hardy County Commission.

Hardy Telecommunications, Inc., a nonprofit rural telephone cooperative, was recently awarded a $9,494,483 loan and a $22,153,791 grant through USDA Rural Development’s Telecommunications program.  This funding was made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act). Read more »

Texas Visit Highlights USDA and FFA Bond

USDA Rural Development tour of the Sam Kane Beef Processing Plant . (L-R) CEO Jerry Kane, CFO Harold Kane, Deputy Under Secretary Rural Development Cheryl Cook, Texas State Director Paco Valentin, Texas State Program Director Daniel Torres and Area Director Jake Sheeran.

USDA Rural Development tour of the Sam Kane Beef Processing Plant . (L-R) CEO Jerry Kane, CFO Harold Kane, Deputy Under Secretary Rural Development Cheryl Cook, Texas State Director Paco Valentin, Texas State Program Director Daniel Torres and Area Director Jake Sheeran.

Several Rural Development funded project sites in were visited by officials from Washington, D.C. in Texas recently to highlighted USDA’s commitment to strengthening rural communities.   Read more »

Census Data Help Us Know Our Farmers

As the head of USDA’s statistical agency, I know that comprehensive, accurate and timely statistical data are some of the most valuable tools in helping to “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.” The statistics collected and published by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) help tell the story of American agriculture – what’s being grown, where it’s being grown, who’s growing it, what the economic impact is, and how these things are changing and evolving over time.

Our oldest and largest data collection program is the Census of Agriculture. This comprehensive look at the farm sector is conducted every five years – most recently in 2007 – and it provides detailed information on U.S. farms and farmers all the way down to the county level. In addition, NASS tabulates key census data by various other geographical and political designations, including watersheds, congressional districts and American Indian reservations. Read more »

Iowa State Fair: America’s Heartland at its Best

Cross-posted from the White House Blog

I’ve spent the last few days here in Iowa, a state that I was honored to serve as Governor for eight years. Yesterday, I walked the grounds of the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. The fair is refreshingly the same each year, but also a snapshot of changing rural America. The food stands, midway and cattle barns are in the same place that they’ve been for years. We’ve sculpted a “Butter Cow” since the early 1900s, but now the young people all have iPods and Blackberry phones. Their parents have cell phones. Read more »