Today, we begin a month-long effort to highlight the one-year anniversary of the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill, by launching a new multimedia channel packed with compelling stories, stunning photography and even a personal note from Secretary Vilsack to USDA’s friends, partners and staff; “It is because of you that this has been called ‘the most successful Farm Bill implementation.’”
Signed into law on Feb. 7, 2014 by President Obama, the Farm Bill has allowed USDA to continue record accomplishments on behalf of the American people, while providing new opportunities and creating jobs across rural America. Read more »
Kelseigh Weber gets a housewarming gift from Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez and USDA Rural Development Specialist Laura Leplow as Michigan State Director James Turner and Rebecca Weber look on.
Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez, Michigan State Director James Turner, and Plainwell, Michigan community members at the new City Hall sculpture.
During this holiday week, I couldn’t help but think of my recent visit with Ms. Rebecca Weber of St. Johns, Michigan – about twenty minutes north of our state capital of Lansing. USDA Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez and I were able to meet Ms. Weber and hear her inspiring story.
USDA Rural Development in Michigan has forged a valuable partnership with Habitat for Humanity, where USDA provides the necessary financing for these families to build their homes. Rebecca Weber is one of the shining examples of success coming from that partnership. Rebecca is a hard-working single mother who built her home this year with the help of Habitat for Humanity and USDA Rural Development. Rebecca was so dedicated to getting this home build, that when heavy rains this summer forced a six-month delay due to standing water, she enlister her mother and together they bailed out the property with five gallon buckets to get things back on schedule. Read more »
Infographic: Getting covered is good for rural America. (click to enlarge image)
Cross posted from the Huffington Post:
Living in a rural community shouldn’t have to come with a hefty price tag for healthcare. On this National Rural Health Day, we celebrate the fact that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it no longer has to.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is already making a difference in the lives of millions of rural Americans. Prior to the ACA, many rural families had a hard time finding affordable insurance coverage, paying an average of nearly half of their costs out of their own pockets. Many didn’t have access to affordable health insurance through an employer because they were self-employed as farmers, ranchers or rural business owners and entrepreneurs. While those folks take calculated business risks every day, their health should not be one of them. Read more »
(Left to right) Educator and former government official Ada Deer, Rural Development’s Deputy Under Secretary Patrice Kunesh (Standing Rock Lakota), Office of Tribal Relations Director Leslie Wheelock (Oneida) and the Forest Service’s Deputy Under Secretary Butch Blazer (Mescalero Apache) at the USDA Native American Heritage Month observance at the Jefferson Auditorium at USDA. Photo by Bob Nichols.
Dennis Zotigh, Kiowa, National Native American Museum shared Native cultures through music and song during the Native American Heritage Month Observance Cultural exchange at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. The Cultural Exchange featured Tribal College exhibit booths and cultural food sampling. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.
Legendary Native American Indian activist, educator and former government official Ada Deer (Menominee) delivered a charge to those attending USDA’s Native American Heritage Month observance here in Washington last week. “Be activists to achieve change,” she said. “We all pay our rent on the planet. How are you paying your rent?”
A former head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, she recently retired as director of the American Indian Studies Department and Director of the School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In my introduction, I noted that Ms. Deer’s life is a tribute to tribal sovereignty and self-determination. She is a role model to all Native Americans, but especially to Native American women. Not surprisingly, Ms. Deer spoke passionately about the role of Tribal colleges and universities. This year marks the 20th anniversary of their recognition by Congress as land grant institutions. These colleges and universities are central to the Tribes. They mark a firm move away from the old boarding school model and provide life-long learning opportunities in Tribal communities. “Education,” said Ms. Deer, “empowers people to enact positive change.” Read more »
Ernie and Terry Lehmkuhl of Springerridge Barnyard Products, organizers of the Country Farmer's Market in Pierre, SD, show off their products at a recent market.
Here in South Dakota, we’re proud of the agricultural products we produce, and local farmer’s markets are a great venue to get these products directly in the hands of consumers. One market I wanted to single out is the Country Farmer’s Market held in our capital of Pierre, South Dakota. Terry Lehmkuhl of Springerridge Barnyard Products and her husband Ernie are the organizers of the market. Terry said “We are just a few hard working people that love bringing country to town. Our Farmer’s Market customers love what we do with our hands. Picking eggs, milking goats, working in our kitchens or just playing in the dirt, we bring our customers the best, freshest products and produce.” Read more »
On August 5, USDA Rural Development State Director Patty Clark visited the Lawrence Farmers Market in recognition of National Farmers Market Week.
Lawrence, Kansas has been building a local/regional foods movement since the early 1970’s. In other words – they made local foods “cool” long before the local food movement and Farmer’s Markets gained in popularity across the nation.
The movement started with the creation of a retail food cooperative called the “The Merc” in 1974. The cooperative started with four individuals and currently includes more than 6,800. The Lawrence farmers market has grown from a single Saturday morning market to four markets each week supported by regional producers that grow everything from asparagus to zucchini – from “A” to “Z” in the fruit and vegetable alphabet. Read more »