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 »
Students at Barack Obama Elementary School, near St. Louis, learn about healthy food choices through gardening.
Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development Judith Canales recently had the opportunity to visit Missouri’s new Barack Obama Elementary School located in a suburb of St. Louis. The school district has started the Barack Obama Elementary Healthy Food Pilot Project where the objective is to serve a healthier school breakfast and lunch menu. As part of this pilot project, the Farm to School Program is being incorporated to bring in more locally grown produce. The elementary school has also created a school garden in partnership with community members, community-based organizations, and a local community gardening group. It appears that they are on the right track! Read more »
The annual Feds Feed Families food drive is a summer-long effort, but USDA employees in Missouri donate to the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri all year long. Eight years ago, Tara Griffin, a Missouri Farm Service Agency state office employee, took the initiative to organize USDA employees to volunteer once a month at the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri. Employees repackaged bulk food for individual use and sorted food products, giving them the chance to see first-hand the impact the food bank has on local communities. The experience was so powerful that Missouri USDA employees have continued to volunteer at the Food Bank once a month ever since.
Thus, it is no surprise that Missouri USDA employees are so eager to give back to the food bank each year through the Feds Feed Families campaign. Collaboration between USDA agencies within the Missouri office has allowed for friendly competition and spurred the generation of creative ideas to help make the state’s Fed Feed Families campaign a success. Read more »
State Director Dunning (4th from right), Ms. Fincher and her family in her new home.
Last year for Homeownership Month we visited Rita Fincher to whom we had made a Single Family Housing Direct loan to help purchase a home. I was so impressed with her story last year that I decided I wanted to go back and visit her to see “what difference a year had made in her life with her new home.” Here is her story. 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 »
Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of traveling to Kansas City to address our nation’s farm broadcasters at the 68th Annual National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) meeting to answer questions about key issues affecting our agricultural community. Since I usually only talk to the broadcasters over the phone, I enjoy coming to NAFB each year to meet with them face-to-face. This year was particularly special because I was able to share good news regarding the state of our agricultural economy, farm exports as well as information about recent USDA streamlining initiatives that will allow us better assist our nation’s producers.
I was proud to announce that we set a record of $137.4 billion in agricultural exports this past fiscal year—exceeding past highs by over $22.5 billion—to support more than 115 million American jobs. We were able to set a trade surplus record of $42 billion, which is a testimony to the hard work of our nation’s producers as the backbone of the American economy. Read more »