Three years ago this fall, Secretary Vilsack and I launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative (KYF2). Since then, we’ve seen interest and participation in local and regional food systems grow beyond anything we expected: whether I’m meeting with buffalo ranchers from the Great Plains or with members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I hear about efforts to connect producers and consumers locally and interest in how USDA can help.
In meetings of the White House Rural Council, which has representatives from across the federal government, regional food systems have been a key part of discussions. Read more »
Last month, representatives of several federal agencies held a meeting with the federally recognized tribes in Southeast Alaska. The meeting, in Alaska’s capital city of Juneau, was the fifth in a series of government-to-government Tribal Collaboration Meetings scheduled with tribes in Alaska. The venue for the meeting between federal officials and tribal leaders was the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Vocational Training and Resource Center.
Tribal representatives and other partners from the region used the session to discuss issues affecting their villages. Leaders from USDA Rural Development, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, Small Business Administration, Housing and Urban Development, the Economic Development Administration (EDA), and Intertribal Agriculture Council were on hand to listen and participate in the dialogue. Read more »
How does a community, business owner, tourist attraction, farmer, homeowner go on after the disastrous 2011 Missouri River flood? At a news conference on May 17, the message was clear: it took determination, community strength and perseverance. With great pride, communities and businesses announced that the Missouri River “MINK” Corridor is “Open for Business”.
The news conference was hosted by a coalition of communities and organizations in the states of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas (MINK). The members are in counties two deep on either side of the river. MINK knows no borders crossing county and state lines, and is helping each other in community development efforts. The genesis for MINK was a Midwest meeting in Madison, Wis. in May, 2010, hosted by the Partnership for Rural America through an agreement with USDA Rural Development. Read more »
Front row: Mary Honke, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Dr. Greg Smith, President of Central Community College. Back row from left to right are: Dr. Jack Huck, President of Southeast Community College; Ryan Purdy, Interim President of Mid-Plains Community College; Dr. Todd Holcomb, President of Western Community College; State Director Maxine Moul; and Dennis Baack, Executive Director of the Nebraska Community College Association.
Local colleges and USDA Rural Development are combining resources to improve the availability of higher education in rural areas. This increased emphasis on continuing education will bring a stronger work force to Nebraska. Read more »
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak before a group of city and town planners at a forum hosted by the American Planning Association. Before I spoke I asked the crowd to raise their hands if they had worked in a community of less than 50,000 population. To my surprise, three-quarters of audience raised a hand.
When I then asked for people to keep their hands raised if they worked in communities under 20,000, and close to half the hands were still up.
It was another reminder that people who live and work in rural communities are highly engaged—enough so to attend a conference here in Washington D.C.—and intent on exploring solutions for small towns and rural areas. Read more »