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Posts tagged: infrastructure

Secretary’s Column: Making the Business Case for Rural America

These days, it seems like it’s easier than ever to turn a good idea into reality. This is the era of Kickstarter, where entrepreneurs can connect with potential investors at the click of a button.

Of course, it takes more than money to grow an idea. It takes an atmosphere that fosters creativity and rewards innovation. And at a deeper, less obvious level, it requires strong, secure infrastructure—roads and bridges, but also internet access and community facilities like hospitals and schoolsthat improves connectivity and access to information, moves products to market, and makes communities competitive and attractive to new businesses and investments. Read more »

Urban Agriculture and Gardening

A wide variety of eggplant sold at the North Carolina Farmers Market.  The North Carolina State Farmers Market is one of the local markets covered by USDA Market News.  Photo by Justin Henry.

A wide variety of eggplant sold at the North Carolina Farmers Market. The North Carolina State Farmers Market is one of the local markets covered by USDA Market News. Photo by Justin Henry.

Urban agriculture and gardening can be an important tool in confronting several key challenges that Americans face: from supporting farm viability in and around urban areas to improving access to healthful, affordable food to realizing the potential of rural-urban linkages. Read more »

Small Plant News: Rural Development Stands Ready to Assist Small Meat and Poultry Plants with Loans

[Editor's note: a version of this article was originally published in the Food Safety and Inspection Service's Small Plant News.  This post covers Rural Development loan programs available to small plants; an upcoming post will cover Rural Development grant programs.]

If you are a small packinghouse or processor and you want to expand, upgrade, or update your facility, assistance is available. As covered in the Volume 1, Number 3 issue of Small Plant News, USDA’s Rural Development is ready to offer assistance in the form of loans and grants, which this two-part series will examine. Read more »

A Budget for our Future

Since coming into office in 2009, President Obama and I have taken important steps to avoid potential economic collapse, and strengthen the American economy for future generations.  America’s families have tightened their belts during these difficult times, and government needs to do the same.  That is why the Fiscal Year 2012 budget looks for opportunities to cut waste and streamline operations – but also proposes cutting programs that the President and I care about to work towards controlling the deficits.  Last year, USDA provided $4 billion to help pay down the debt by renegotiating an agreement with crop insurance companies.  This budget continues that commitment to deficit reduction – proposing a nearly $2 billion decrease from our request for Fiscal Year 2011. Read more »

Hoop House Hoopla

Sometimes those of us in Washington DC take ourselves too seriously.  I’ve fallen into that trap more than once.  So, when it came time to shoot our video on the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) hoop house offering, launched last year as part of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, we decided to have some fun.  On a beautiful late November day, I joined White House chef Sam Kass to put small hoops over the garden beds at the First Lady’s garden.  This video captures the fun we had.

Dan Glickman, former Secretary of Agriculture, has always placed high value on humor.  Writing last August in the Wichita Eagle, he wrote:

One of the most underestimated tools in politics, leadership and life is a sense of humor — the ability to laugh not just at others but at ourselves. More than ever, we need humor’s deflationary influence in the nation’s capital. It’s an essential release valve, a check on all the overheated rhetoric and a bridge to real dialogue.

Mark Twain got it right when he said, “against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

Humor alone can’t solve our problems. But it can open the door to greater civility, a little more humanity and some much-needed productivity in our nation’s governance.

Oklahoma Food Co-Op: From Buying Club to Food Hub

Oklahoma Food Co-op’s distribution range

One afternoon in the fall of 2003, 36 consumers and several volunteers gathered in the basement of an Oklahoma City church to sort and purchase products from twenty local producers.  They generated $3,500 in sales, and the opening day of the Oklahoma Food Coop (OFC) was determined to have been a great success. Read more »