Last Wednesday, I participated in a regional forum of the White House Working Families Summit that was held at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia. Coming from a small town in Southwest Georgia myself, I can relate to the unique challenges that rural Americans face. Growing up, my father worked seven days a week on our peanut and cattle farm with help from my mother. To make sure our family had a constant source of income and health insurance, my mother also worked off the farm at the local independent bank. I am fortunate to be the product of hard working parents who provided my sister and me with the best opportunities possible.
All families have a right to have access to a good education system, affordable healthcare and jobs. Our rural families are concerned about creating strong prospects for their children, whether it is on or off the farm. But it is also essential that there are opportunities that will attract young people back to rural areas and help us secure the future of agriculture. Read more »
Second Harvest holds ribbon cutting ceremony for a new 65,000 square-foot regional distribution center in Thomasville, Georgia.
Across the country, food banks are committed to providing healthy food for those in need. Food banks also have a vested interest in building stronger local economies and creating additional opportunities for the communities they serve.
There are currently more than 200 food banks in the country, with more than 63,000 affiliated agencies like (food pantries and shelters). This network distributes more than 2.5 billion pounds of food to needy Americans each year.
Strategic integration of local foods into a food bank’s operation is one way to create economic opportunities for farmers and provide fresh food to families and children. This is especially important in rural areas, which have rich agricultural assets but tend to experience higher poverty rates than metropolitan areas. Read more »
Tony Hernandez (left), Administrator for USDA Housing Programs, and Georgia Rural Development State Director Quinton Robinson congratulate Telisha Mack on her new home in recognition of National Homeownership Month.
In 2011, Telisha Mack was ready to take the leap into homeownership. She put mortgage applications at three different banks, but was not approved because she didn’t have a huge down payment or a co-signer. She lost her chance to purchase two different homes she liked.
As a single mother with three children while working a full-time job, Telisha managed to overcome a number of hurdles to obtain an Associate’s Degree in Accounting, a Bachelor’s Degree in Management, and a Master’s Degree in Human Resources. She maintained good credit and budgeted wisely. She knew she could overcome the hurdle of entering homeownership, but wasn’t sure exactly how or when. Then, she heard from a friend how USDA Rural Development helps families break into the housing market. Read more »
Swales, like this one, were created throughout the wetland to hold water after a rain event, which in turn helps aid in flood storage, enhances plant diversity and provides habitat for wildlife. NRCS photo.
A 53-acre conservation easement is an ideal environmental learning lab for students at Francis Hugh Wardlaw Academy in Johnston, South Carolina. The land was once pastures for cattle, but now it’s a vibrant wetland just across the street from the high school.
The contractor hired to install the restoration work, Charles Kemp, was instrumental in involving the school’s students in creating and managing the wetland. “These students are exploring what a career in agriculture or environmental science would be like, and they love being outside and escaping the confines of the classroom,” Kemp said.
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden looks over olive blooms with Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard owner Sandy Winokur in Elemendorf, TX on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. USDA photo by Melissa Blair.
During this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama laid out an important call to action for our country:
“This year let’s all come together, Congress, the White House, businesses from Wall Street to Main Street, to give every woman the opportunity she deserves, because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds.”
As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I would like to call attention to the remarkable work of women of agriculture. Not only are women the heart of many family farming operations across the country, women are starting and growing their own agricultural businesses– creating opportunity and economic growth for their families and in their local communities. Read more »
Coming from a farming family in Georgia, I know firsthand the risks farmers take each and every day.The work is hard, the margins are slim and Mother Nature can be fickle.The questions that my family is asking about what happens to our farm in the future are questions that are shared by farmers across the country. Where will the next generation of farmers come from? Who will they be? Where will they live? How will they get started? What do they need to succeed?
Yesterday, I hosted a Google+ Hangout with Kate Danner and Alejandro Tecum, two passionate individuals who share a love of agriculture. They spoke about the challenges and experiences of new farmers across the country. With the recent Agricultural Census indicating the average age of farmers continues to rise and opportunities for new farmers are growing, I wanted to know why Kate and Alejandro got into agriculture and what advice they could offer to others interested in doing the same. Read more »