At AMS, we are committed to ensuring that all research and promotion boards are as diverse as the members they serve. Photo courtesy of National Black Growers Council.
U.S. agriculture is increasingly diverse, with farmers, ranchers, processors, distributors, vendors, and more from various backgrounds. Just like their products, the operations and the men and women that run them are diverse – in gender, race, age, size, and production practices. At USDA, we are committed to supporting all of American agriculture with our programs and services.
My agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is in a unique position to encourage and promote diversity, particularly when it comes to industry leadership. AMS oversees 22 industry-funded research and promotion programs that allow farmers and businesses to pool resources, set common goals, and make collective decisions about how to best develop new markets, strengthen current markets, and conduct important research and promotion activities covering a wide variety of topics from nutrition to sustainability. These programs, which create opportunities for farms and businesses across the country, are led by industry board members appointed by the Secretary. AMS has been working hard to ensure that research and promotion boards reflect the full diversity of American agriculture. We know that the programs are stronger when the boards represent the diversity of the industries they represent and the consumers they serve. Read more »
Pictured above are Heidi Richards and her daughter in their newly constructed Habitat home with Deputy Under Secretary, Patrice Kunesh.
Recently, I visited the Habitat for Humanity homes on Cape Cod, Massachusetts in celebration of National Homeownership Month, a time to recognize the important role that housing plays in the economy. The construction of these homes was made possible through loans from USDA Rural Development (RD).
The partnership between USDA Rural Development and the Cape Cod Chapter of Habitat for Humanity continues to help provide numerous low-income families with safe, affordable, and well-built homes. USDA Rural Development and the Cape Cod Chapter of Habitat for Humanity first partnered in 2011. In FY 2013, USDA Rural Development financed four out of five of the Habitat homes built on Cape Cod, and they are currently on track to finance eight more Habitat homes being built on Cape Cod in FY 2014. Read more »
USDA is supporting economic development strategies in Oklahoma's Indian Country.
Rural Oklahoma is home to many important tribal communities. Among these, the Choctaw Nation spans over ten counties in southeastern Oklahoma, while the Cherokee Nation runs along the state’s northeast border, and Muscogee (Creek) Nation lies farther west.
These communities play a critical role in developing businesses, affordable housing, and infrastructure like water, roads, and telecommunications. However, these areas endure chronic poverty, limited opportunities and countless other economic challenges. For instance, most of the 1,100 residents of Boley, Oklahoma – located in the heart of Creek nation – live on less than 25 dollars per day.
Earlier this year, I joined Leslie Wheelock, Director of USDA’s Office of Tribal Relations, on a visit to the area. Read more »
Wayne Bodley (far right) built his home through the Self-Help program with assistance from USDA Rural Development and the Housing Assistance Corporation. Bodley designed the bear which is displayed in downtown Hendersonville, NC, and will be auctioned off to benefit the local Self-Help program.
In celebration of USDA’s annual Homeownership Month, I toured a flourishing neighborhood tucked in the woods of Edneyville, North Carolina. Along with me were families who never thought it possible to own a home or have a yard for their children or a garden. Their dreams were realized by building not only their own home, but the homes of their neighbors too! In the process, they also built enduring bonds of a caring community.
This neighborhood is being developed by the private, nonprofit Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC) of Hendersonville using Rural Development’s Self-Help Housing program. Since 1971, USDA has helped build more than 50,000 across the nation. Through the Self Help Housing program, homeowners save money and earn “sweat equity” toward their homes by completing 65% of the labor. Ten to 12 families pool their efforts and work a minimum of 40 hours a week working on all the homes — and no one moves into their home until every home is completed. Working together, families pour foundations, frame homes, install electrical wiring, hang doors and windows, and lay tile and paint. Their sweat equity qualifies as their down payment. Once completed, USDA Rural Development provides the families with mortgages through the Single Family Housing Direct Loan Program. Read more »
“Our home is a beautiful white house with a porch and a creek runs through our backyard,” said Joe Donnell. “There is lots of space for our family to grow. This house is an amazing gift from the Lord!”
With their family of eight, Myron Doud and Stephanie Richards were in tight quarters when they were living with Myron’s parents in a four-bedroom house. Like them, Joe and Danielle Donnell and their young one had resided with Danielle’s family.
“Our daughter was very excited about her new bedroom, and she wasn’t even scared to sleep in a room all by herself!” said Stephanie Richards. “The kids now have room to have sleep-overs with their friends and a nice backyard to play.”
These South Dakota families, like many starting out in rural America, just needed a little assistance to begin their lives — and begin building assets for the future — as homeowners. They found the help they needed through USDA Rural Development’s Direct Housing Loan, which offers 100-percent, affordable mortgages to rural homebuyers who cannot access affordable conventional financing. Read more »
Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden, Hanover Habitat Executive Director Tim Bowring, Rural Development State Director Basil Gooden, Rural Development Housing Director for Virginia Anne Herring tour energy efficient homes constructed through a new partnership between USDA and The Hanover County Chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
USDA Rural Development and The Hanover County Chapter of Habitat for Humanity are thinking outside of the box with their new partnership in Virginia. By working together, USDA Rural Development and Habitat for Humanity are able to provide mortgage assistance to low and very low-income rural families. Earlier this month, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden visited Bailey Woods, the first-ever Habitat Development in this area, as part of USDA’s celebration of National Homeownership Month.
Every year, rural families rely on USDA Rural Development’s direct and guaranteed home loans to provide an affordable opportunity to become homeowners. Bailey Woods will provide building lots for eight new houses and a renovation of one. These homes range from 1,500 to 1,700 square feet and feature many energy efficient features, such as ceiling fans, high insulation, and high efficiency heat pumps. These cost reducing systems will provide families in rural areas such as Hanover County the opportunity to purchase a home, while maintaining low operating costs. Read more »