Shade-grown coffee helps protect water quality and coral reefs like this one in Puerto Rico. NOAA photo.
I work for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency that helps farmers voluntarily implement conservation practices on their lands across the U.S.—including land on my home, Puerto Rico.
I am extremely proud of recent NRCS efforts here to help farmers, ranchers and landowners make significant strides in conserving the Guánica Bay/Rio Loco watershed. This watershed, which is about 100 miles southwest of San Juan, is one of the most diverse and complex in Puerto Rico. Read more »
Cross posted from the disability.gov blog:
Today, I was thinking about the last entry I wrote for Disability.gov’s blog just about a year ago and considering our accomplishments in 2012 and the opportunities that are ahead for 2013.
The need for food assistance remained high in 2012, with an average of 47 million people participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) every month. Program participation increased in response to natural disasters, such as Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana and Hurricane Sandy in the New England states. However, overall the program grew at a slower rate and even flattened toward the end of the year. SNAP continues to be the cornerstone of the national hunger safety net by helping those in need put healthy food on the table. Read more »
Earlier this month, USDA Rural Development-Puerto Rico held an Intermediary Relending Program Roundtable meeting for area stakeholders.
Our staff provided a brief overview of the program followed by a very dynamic question and answer session. The most significant issues discussed were the current barriers to access capital for small businesses and the need to complement their services offerings through common inter-organizational effort.
The main objective of the meeting was to gather all main Intermediary Relending organizations and share their current best practices and current lending challenges. The meeting also proved to be an excellent opportunity to make services networking, exchange organizational information and identify new funding opportunities. Read more »
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 »
In many parts of the United States, the summer months are a time when food banks and pantries experience a higher demand alongside decreased donations. As part of this past summer’s Feds Feed Families food drive, USDA employees in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, enthusiastically joined in the effort to help friends and neighbors struggling to put food on the table. The 28 members of the staff at the Tropical Agriculture Research Station include scientists, farmers and gardeners, as well as employees in supportive roles. As part of their research efforts, the USDA Tropical Research Center periodically harvests hundreds of pounds of green bananas at a time from experimental plots. Rather than let this healthy food go to waste, the office donates the bananas to a government-run nursing home in Mayaguez. There the bananas are used to prepare traditional, local dishes.
Some of the dishes prepared with the donated bananas include pasteles, which are made from ground banana stuffed with meat or chicken, wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked. Two other delicious dishes are bollitas, or small ground banana balls cooked with pigeon peas and served over rice, and serenata, a dish of boiled green banana served with codfish, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper. Bananas are an excellent source of fiber, potassium, and magnesium, are rich in Vitamins B6 and C, and make a delicious dessert or snack–just make sure to let them ripen first! Read more »
Late last month, Arlene Zambrana, Rural Housing Program Director, was recognized as the Public Servant of the Year by the Puerto Rico Housing Builder Association.
Through her professional career, she has escalated higher positions that have provided the opportunity to obtain the present position as Rural Housing Program Director. As part of her responsibilities, she has successfully administered a budget of $1,071,533,067 during fiscal years 2009 to 2011 and has provided homeownership opportunities to 7,830 families.
Arlene has been working with the Agency since 1986. She started as assistant to Loan Specialist of the local office of the municipality of San Sebastian. Read more »