Rural Development is the lead Federal agency that works to ensure that rural families have access to safe, well-built, affordable homes. In February 2012, the agency initiated a two-year, pilot refinancing program in 19 states hardest hit by the Nation’s housing downturn to help eligible USDA borrowers reduce their monthly housing costs.
Today, USDA announced that the program is expanding to include eligible rural residents in Puerto Rico, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Read more »
President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa, on Monday, August 13, 2012 to view the drought stricken crops. The federal government has already taken some steps to ease farmers whose crops are growing poorly this summer, and the administration plans to spend close to $200 million on livestock, officials announced earlier in the day. The Department of Defense is encouraging vendors to buy meat to ease the crisis. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.
USDA and other federal agencies continue to work to address the long term effects of last summer’s historic drought.
In the wake of a series of regional drought conferences with farmers, ranchers, business owners and other stakeholders, USDA is entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Commerce, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to improve sharing of data and expertise, monitoring networks, and drought forecasting efforts. The MOU is a direct outcome of the regional conferences. Read more »
South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks presents funds to South Dakota State University Extension for an online Local Foods Center while attending the 2012 South Dakota Local Foods Conference. Pictured left to right, Dr. Rhoda Burrows and Chris Zdorovtsov, SDSU Extension; and State Director Meeks.
The second annual South Dakota Local Foods Conference was held recently to continue the dialogue on local foods among producers, consumers, farmer’s markets, retailers, schools and others. The conference provided attendees from across the state two days of breakout sessions, networking, and instruction.
USDA Rural Development State Director, Elsie Meeks attended the conference, taking the opportunity to award South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension a Rural Business Opportunity Grant of $50,000. The Rural Development funds will be used to build capacity in South Dakota’s local food system through the establishment of an online Local Foods Center which will create structured connections between local growers and resource providers. Read more »
USDA Undersecretary Michael Scuse and Cass County FSA committeeman and farmer Trent Smith discuss the drought’s impact on this year’s soybean crop. Smith’s farm was one stop on the Undersecretary’s tour assessing Missouri’s drought.
Last week, USDA Undersecretary Michael Scuse visited with farmers and ranchers in Missouri and Kansas. Scuse is just one of several USDA officials to fan out to more than a dozen drought-affected states in the past two months as part of President Obama’s commitment to get help to producers impacted by the nation’s worst drought in a generation. Over the past eight weeks, USDA has helped to lead these efforts by opening conservation acres to emergency haying and grazing, lowering the interest rate for emergency loans, working with crop insurance companies to provide flexibility to farmers, and offering other forms of assistance meant to bring relief in the short and long term. Read more »
The McCarty family moved to the plains of western Kansas to allow their four sons to fulfill their dairy farming destiny. The first stage of a multi-year collaboration with The Dannon Company is in the background: a milk processing and condensing plant that helps to reduce the carbon footprint of the yogurt. Pictured left to right are Mike, Clay, Judy, Tom, David and Ken McCarty. (Submitted photo. Used with permission).
June is Dairy Month. In agricultural circles, the term “Value-Added” often implies a business venture through which an agricultural producer, or group of producers, further process a commodity in the value-chain that leads to the ultimate consumer. But sometimes, the value-added of a value-added venture moves well beyond further processing of a commodity. Read more »
The City of Quinter, Kansas, had a groundbreaking ceremony for a new fire station earlier this month. All of the city’s fire equipment will soon be under one roof, which will help improve the fire station’s efficiencies when crews respond to emergencies in its 400 square mile service area. The new station is being built with funding support from USDA and a local electric cooperative.
Earlier this month, the City of Quinter, Kansas, celebrated the groundbreaking of a new fire station with city employees, members of the volunteer fire department, USDA Rural Development staff, and representatives from Midwest Energy and Quinter Manufacturing & Construction (QMC). This photo was taken by a USDA employee.
According to City of Quinter Administrator, Ericka Gillespie, the city of less than 1,000 needed a new fire station because the old facility was not meeting the needs of the community. A larger space was needed for training, storage, and additional fire protection equipment and trucks. The larger fire station will also improve the department’s fire rating, resulting in lower insurance costs. Read more »