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Wisconsin Business Excels in the Asian Market with Help from USDA’s Market Access Program

With assistance from USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) and working with Food Export-Midwest, a Milwaukee-based company has expanded its access to the Asian market for its brand of specialty cookies. Nikki’s Cookies & Confections has been baking a full line of shortbreads, chocolate layered cookies and holiday specialty products for 25 years. The company’s export success was recently recognized in the National Export Strategy Report, an annual update on the National Export Initiative progress. Under this initiative President Obama set a goal of doubling overall U.S. exports by the end of 2014. Read more »

It’s Never Too Late to Start a New Beginning

Just ask eighty-six year old Rita Fincher in Park Hills, Missouri and she will tell you it is never too late to start a new beginning.

After raising ten children in a mobile home, her current dwelling was literally falling in around her when her children and grand children came to the rescue.  One of the grandsons was in the real estate business and learned of a vacant home that had been foreclosed and owned by a local bank.   With the help of the USDA Rural Development direct home loan program she applied through the Farmington, Missouri office and was determined eligible.  The house was structurally sound but needed lots of tender loving care.  With some financial help from the local bank and USDA Rural Development, her family, church friends, and neighbors made the needed repairs and improvements. Read more »

The Church Floated Down the Street…and Around the Corner

U.S. Historical Marker for Methodist church in Swan Quarter.

U.S. Historical Marker for Methodist church in Swan Quarter.

Back in 1876, the Methodists of the coastal community of Swan Quarter, NC were keenly aware of flooding issues from heavy rain and high tides. As a result, they sought property less prone to flooding for a new church. But their efforts to purchase a specific vacant lot on high ground were unsuccessful, so the church was built near the heart of the town on a lower lot. Read more »

CSA Utah: Rooted in Your Community, Harvested for Your Table

Jill Bell and daughter Anna helping with the summer harvest for CSA shares.

Jill Bell and daughter Anna helping with the summer harvest for CSA shares.

Development can often benefit communities at the expense of agriculture; many of Utah’s farms are quickly being replaced by expanding residential, commercial and industrial development. Now many farmers and consumers have joined forces to increase the sustainability of agriculture in Utah with community supported agriculture, especially along the Wasatch Front. Community supported agriculture (CSA) is a way for consumers to directly invest in local farms and receive a regular delivery of fresh fruits, vegetables and other local products. Read more »

Know Your Farmer, Know the Facts

In September of 2009, the Department of Agriculture launched the ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’ initiative. The initiative has been applauded by farmers and ranchers across the country as a key resource in helping to break down barriers to agriculture and economic development. Every day we get questions from farmers, ranchers, consumers and communities wanting to know how ‘Know Your Farmer’ applies to them. So we sat down with Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan to help answer some of those questions: Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Helping Americans Through Natural Disasters

These past months have brought tough times for folks across the nation.  Unusual weather patterns – too much water in some places, not enough elsewhere – have driven thousands of Americans from their homes, and threatened their livelihoods.

Other families have seen their lives turned upside down by tornados or threatened by historic wildfires.

In these difficult times, my heart goes out to all of those who have been touched by these disasters.  And I want folks to know that at USDA – and across the federal government – we are we are doing our best to serve all those who have been affected. Read more »