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USDA Officials Plant a People’s Garden in Syracuse

USDA Rural Development (RD), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) staff planted the first public “Peoples Garden” in New York State last week. Read more »

USDA Continues Commitment to Make Farmers Markets More Accessible

The Colorado Farmers Market Association, the City Heights Open Air & Certified Farmers Market in San Diego, Calif. and Greenmarket in New York City did it with help of the Farmers Market Promotion Program.  The Athens Farmers Market in Athens, Ohio was among the first market in Ohio to do it and Detroit’s Eastern Market is seeing record-breaking sales now that they have joined the program. 

These farmers markets are among the more than 1,100 farmers markets and farm stands that have implemented the Electronic Benefits Transfer system and now accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program  benefits at their markets.

Implementing a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program at farmers markets can sometimes feel overwhelming.  To make it easier, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), in collaboration with the non-profit Project for Public Spaces, has just released “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at Farmers Market: A How-To Handbook” .

The Handbook provides essential guidance for farmers market managers installing an Electronic Benefits Transfer machine and advice for making the program work successfully for vendors and customers.  It also features a list of resources, a glossary of important terms, and several case studies from farmers markets that have successfully implemented an Electronic Benefits Technology system.  This Handbook is part of the USDA’s commitment to building more direct market opportunities for producers, expanding both of these benefits at farmers markets, and addressing food deserts, especially those in low-income areas.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is not the only food assistance program welcomed at farmers markets.  Customers can take advantage of the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, a voucher program specifically for low-income seniors.  Families qualifying for the Women, Infants and Children Program can use those benefits at farmers markets across the country as well.  For those customers on the lookout for a farmers market that welcomes these benefits, the USDA Farmers Market Directory has a comprehensive list.

SNAP at Farmers Markets Handbook

SNAP at Farmers Markets Handbook

Missouri USDA Rural Development Partners With World Changers to Help With Housing Repairs

Last week in the north central rural community of Trenton, Missouri, I observed the true spirit of the theme of the 2010 National Home Ownership month – Protecting the Dream.  It was the gathering of 150 volunteer youth from six different states representing seven churches providing labor for repairs to 15 houses.  Read more »

As I wrote recently, one of the steps we are taking to cut waste in government and boost performance is establishing a Do Not Pay List, a single source through which all agencies can check the status of a potential contractor or individual, so that a barred or ineligible individual or organization is not paid erroneously. This is part of a sustained effort we have taken to go after the $100 billion wasted in improper payments each year by the federal government. Read more »

Domestic Production of Renewable Energy – A National Priority

The Obama Administration has made domestic production of renewable energy a national priority because it will create quality American jobs, combat global warming, reduce fossil fuel dependence and lay a strong foundation for a strong rural economy.  Read more »

Biomass and Biofuel – What’s in it for Hawaii’s Agriculture?

Hawaii and the Pacific Basin

The dwindling global supply of fossil fuels and the resulting escalation in prices has set the stage for entry of commercial biofuel produced from biomass, including co-products and bi-products.  This transition in the energy sector’s feed stocks offers Hawaii a unique opportunity to locally produce biofuel from locally produced biomass feed stocks, and ultimately support the stabilization of the state’s energy resources; increase the local circulation of energy dollars; and further under gird Hawaii’s agricultural industry.  Read more »