Lissa Biehn (left) with FSA and Ramona Mitchell, Rural Development, discuss USDA’s dedication to civil rights in employment and program delivery at the Northwest Pride Festival in Portland, OR, on June 14.
June marks the 2014 celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. USDA is taking this opportunity to recognize the immeasurable positive contributions made by the LGBT community — including our coworkers, partners and clients — to help rural America innovate and thrive, protect our natural resources and promote sustainable agricultural production to help feed the world. In addition, we are demonstrating our commitment to treating our LGBT customers and coworkers fairly and respectfully through educational events, outreach efforts and listening sessions across the country.
June is also National Homeownership Month, and the theme is “Own Your Future. Own Your Home.” With concurrent Pride and Homeownership Month observances, it’s a great time to raise awareness among LGBT communities about USDA home mortgage and home repair programs that can help rural residents own their future. Read more »
Maria and Ignacio Gordillo of Reedley, Calif., helped build their house last year through USDA’s Mutual Self-Help Housing Loan Program. More than 50,000 rural families have become homeowners using their “sweat equity” as a down payment on an affordable USDA mortgage.
More than 50,000 rural families have become homeowners using their “sweat equity” as their down payment on an affordable USDA mortgage.
What is “sweat equity?” These families have helped build their own homes and provided most of the construction labor with guidance from a qualified construction supervisor through USDA’s Mutual Self-Help Housing Loan Program. The “sweat equity” — the savings in labor costs — reduced the amount of the home loan and made the monthly payments affordable.
June is National Homeownership Month. USDA is celebrating the self-help program and the 50,000+ rural families who have invested in a home of their own through self-help housing. Read more »
Not even a three year drought weakens Glenn Nakagawa’s resolve or determination to maintain his herd and protect the unique genetics of his American Wagyu cattle.
This post is part of a disaster assistance program feature series on the USDA blog. Check back every Wednesday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
The Nakagawa Ranch (Valley Springs, Calif.), owned and operated by Glenn and Keiko Nakagawa, is a cattle operation steeped in history and tradition. The Nakagawas raise American Wagyu (Wa = Japanese and, Gyu= Cow) cattle, originating in Japan, but bred today in the U.S. for their excellent meat quality and calving ease.
Nakagawa is a third generation rancher who owns and works the same ground his grandfather, an immigrant from Hiroshima, Japan purchased two days before Pearl Harbor — an event that would force the entire Nakagawa family into internment camps until 1946 when they were able to return home to the ranch. Read more »
Siuslaw Stream Team Leader Jim Grano looks on as students remove Scotch Broom from the dunes. (U.S. Forest Service)
Seventh graders from Siuslaw Middle School recently visited the Oregon Dunes Day Use Area to join the fight against Scotch Broom, one of Oregon’s worst invasive plants.
Armed with gloves, ratchet loppers, and large weed pullers, students freed an open space on the hillside for native plants to re-establish. The seventh graders picked up where Siuslaw Elementary School fourth graders left off in March, and where previous classes have volunteered their time for the last five years.
“These kids can see the difference they’ve made, and that’s something they can have pride in every time they come back here,” said Jim Grano, who heads up the Siuslaw Stream Team that led the restoration project. Read more »
Zena Forest Products' owner and Value Added Producer Grant recipient, Ben Deumling, explains the uses and values of different sizes of sustainably harvested Oregon white oak to USDA Rural Development Administrator for Rural Business Service Lillian Salerno at the company site near Salem, OR.
In his Small Business Week Proclamation earlier this week, President Obama said, “Small businesses represent an idea at the heart of our Nation’s promise — that with ingenuity and hard work, anyone can build a better life.”
Having started my own manufacturing company in rural Texas many years ago, I believe small business folks are American heroes. What it takes to get a business going and the immense responsibility of employing others and developing markets is very hard work especially in rural areas. The work of an entrepreneur is also rewarding and those relationships with employees, customers and the community are lifelong. For rural entrepreneurs, their companies are part of the fabric of the community.
One of the main obstacles getting a business off the ground is locating the capital to invest in communities. Seeking a business loan or receiving an equity investment is such a critical path for startups and to keep entrepreneurship vibrant in rural America because we know the type of jobs created by small business are the ladders of opportunity. Read more »
Dick Fitzgerald, Forest Management Assistant Director for the Forest Service, says it’s the variety of work and working with the highly-educated sharp young folk in the agency that contributes to his joy of the work challenge. (U.S. Forest Service)
When a forester embraces the various challenges of his job – such as timber management, building roads, squelching wildfires or perhaps even national policy issues – you can count on the variety of experiences and the ever-changing nature of the job to provide interest.
For Dick Fitzgerald, currently the agency’s assistant director of forest management in the Washington Office, it became a 57-year career and running. He began by working summers in a fire lookout before becoming full time as a junior forester, as it was known in those days. He also worked as a district ranger, managed timber sales and served as a regional silviculturist in two of the agency’s nine regions.
“Each job has had its challenges,” Fitzgerald said. “During my first jobs, I was out in the country in places where a lot of folks had never been locating and developing roads to support the mission. Working as a district ranger, I worked with the public from local areas, trying to balance a forest’s timber or range or recreation agenda.” Read more »