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World Accessibility in Rural America

USDA Rural Development and NCTC break ground on a new high speed broadband project serving rural Tennessee and Kentucky.

USDA Rural Development and NCTC break ground on a new high speed broadband project serving rural Tennessee and Kentucky.

Access to the world via internet and mobile phone services is at the fingertips of most Americans, but this is not the reality for residents of many rural communities across the Nation.

In October 2014, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $190.5 million in grants and loans to make broadband and other advanced communications infrastructure improvements in rural areas. Read more »

Preparing a Holiday Feast? Serve Up the Taste of Organics

Load up your holiday table with nature’s organic bounty.  (iStock image)

Load up your holiday table with nature’s organic bounty. (iStock image)

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 USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Nature presents unparalleled bounty, so why not go back to basics and serve an organic holiday feast? Read more »

USDA Helps a Texas Rancher Reach His Dream of Operating a Successful Ranch

 Rickie Roddy (left) of McLennan County Texas has worked closely with the Natural Resources Conservation Service on a conservation plan on conservation practices ranging from pasture planting to establishing water sources for his cattle herd. NRCS photo by Clete Vanderburg.

Rickie Roddy (left) of McLennan County Texas has worked closely with the Natural Resources Conservation Service on a conservation plan on conservation practices ranging from pasture planting to establishing water sources for his cattle herd. NRCS photo by Clete Vanderburg.

One central Texas rancher is fulfilling a childhood dream. Rickie Roddy bought his first cow when he was 14 years old. By the time he was 19, he had grown his herd to 13 head of cattle.

“I have always been fascinated by cattle,” Roddy said. “I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to have any land, but I wanted to be a rancher since I was a little kid.” Read more »

A New Home for the Holidays in Michigan

 Kelseigh Weber gets a housewarming gift from Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez and USDA Rural Development Specialist Laura Leplow as Michigan State Director James Turner and Rebecca Weber look on.

Kelseigh Weber gets a housewarming gift from Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez and USDA Rural Development Specialist Laura Leplow as Michigan State Director James Turner and Rebecca Weber look on.

 Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez, Michigan State Director James Turner, and Plainwell, Michigan community members at the new City Hall sculpture.

Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez, Michigan State Director James Turner, and Plainwell, Michigan community members at the new City Hall sculpture.

During this holiday week, I couldn’t help but think of my recent visit with Ms. Rebecca Weber of St. Johns, Michigan – about twenty minutes north of our state capital of Lansing. USDA Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez and I were able to meet Ms. Weber and hear her inspiring story.

USDA Rural Development in Michigan has forged a valuable partnership with Habitat for Humanity, where USDA provides the necessary financing for these families to build their homes. Rebecca Weber is one of the shining examples of success coming from that partnership. Rebecca is a hard-working single mother who built her home this year with the help of Habitat for Humanity and USDA Rural Development. Rebecca was so dedicated to getting this home build, that when heavy rains this summer forced a six-month delay due to standing water, she enlister her mother and together they bailed out the property with five gallon buckets to get things back on schedule. Read more »

2,000 Miles in 100 Days, Delivering a Message of Advocacy, Adventure

Amy and Dave Freeman pose with their canoe named “Sig” – in honor of Minnesota environmental activist, Sigurd F. Olsen – after completing the first 160 miles across the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness. The Freeman’s will travel another 1,840 miles before reaching Washington, Dec. 3. (Courtesy PaddletoDC.org) Used with permission.

Amy and Dave Freeman pose with their canoe named “Sig” – in honor of Minnesota environmental activist, Sigurd F. Olsen – after completing the first 160 miles across the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness. The Freeman’s traveled another 1,840 miles before reaching Washington, Dec. 3. (Courtesy PaddletoDC.org) Used with permission.

“It’s a big, wild world,” said Dave Freeman, co-founder of Wilderness Classroom, “and I want you to go out and explore it.” 

That was the message the native Minnesotan had for more than 100 elementary school kids from local schools attending an outdoor youth engagement fair at Rawlins Park in Washington, D.C. Read more »

New International Wildlife Disease Training Course

Course participants practice swabbing wild ducks for diagnostic sampling

Course participants practice swabbing wild ducks for diagnostic sampling

Protecting agriculture is nothing new for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), who is on the job 24/7 keeping livestock safe from animal disease.  APHIS is sharing that expertise internationally to help countries protect livestock and threatened and endangered species from diseases like brucellosis, tuberculosis, avian influenza, bluetongue and rabies.  APHIS, with help from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), held a new training course specifically focused on wildlife disease issues.  APHIS recently hosted wildlife disease specialists from all over the world, including Cambodia, Kenya, Mexico, Tanzania, Uganda, and Vietnam. 

All of APHIS’ capacity building programs are designed to identify and reduce agricultural pest and disease threats while these threats are still outside of U.S. borders.   Capacity building includes training and technology transfer to assist foreign partners in building their animal and plant health infrastructures. This capability, in turn, helps to reduce the chances that undetected agricultural threats will find pathways into the United States. Read more »