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Posts tagged: Rural Development

Missouri Community Foundations Find Common Ground and Make a Stand

Collaboration, cooperation and coordination are good words, especially when all three can be used to describe an action.  Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri (CFNWMO) and nine other Missouri community foundations are collaborating, cooperating and coordinating in the funding and creation of a Transfer of Wealth (TOW) study.

On March 5, 2013, USDA Rural Development Missouri State Director Janie Dunning hosted an event announcing the funding of a Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG) to complete the TOW study.  The impetus for submitting the RBOG application came when Secretary Tom Vilsack attended the foundation’s annual meeting in January 2012. Read more »

Deputy Secretary Holds Roundtable Discussion with Tribal Leaders in South Dakota

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, right of center, hosted two roundtable meetings in Lower Brule, SD on Feb. 28, 2013. Deputy Secretary Merrigan held a press availability with tribal leaders to reaffirm the Obama Administration’s commitment to Indian Country and highlight the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) efforts to promote business development and job creation in rural South Dakota. USDA photo by Tammi Shone.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, right of center, hosted two roundtable meetings in Lower Brule, SD on Feb. 28, 2013. Deputy Secretary Merrigan held a press availability with tribal leaders to reaffirm the Obama Administration’s commitment to Indian Country and highlight the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) efforts to promote business development and job creation in rural South Dakota. USDA photo by Tammi Shone.

Last week, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan led a USDA delegation deep into the heart of Indian Country in South Dakota.  All three of us and our teams from USDA’s South Dakota state offices for Rural Development, the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service were joined by the Acting Director of the USDA Office of Tribal Relations, Max Finberg, along with Darlene Barnes, the regional director of the Food and Nutrition Service, and South Dakota’s Agriculture Commissioner Walt Bones.  We were hosted by the Crow Creek and Lower Brule Sioux nations in the center of our state.  The Deputy Secretary held a roundtable discussion on the importance of agriculture and economic development in Indian Country and visited a unique Native American food company.  She was joined by many tribal leaders and organizations, including farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs. Read more »

Recognizing the Power in Rural

As the USDA Rural Development State Director for Oregon, I’m aware of the significant economic benefits our programs have produced in partnership with rural communities, residents and businesses in every corner of my state. As I drove across the country during my recent vacation, I was curious to also see how visible the Agency’s support for place-appropriate, locally led efforts would be on my route from Oregon to Virginia. Knowing what to look for, I could easily identify the signs of rural economic and community development—even from my limited dashboard viewpoint—as I drove a transect path across the USDA Rural Development nationwide service area. Rural America accounts for 75 percent of the Nation’s land area, and that is where we work. Across the rural landscape, it is difficult, if not impossible, to find a community that hasn’t benefitted in some way from our support for affordable housing, business development, essential infrastructure, community facilities and clean, efficient energy. Read more »

Deputy Secretary Discusses Food Hubs, New Orleans Style

Nathan Cann volunteers at Hollygrove Market and Farm (HGMF) in exchange for a box of fresh produce valued at $25.00 in New Orleans, LA on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. USDA photo by Karen Lawson.

Nathan Cann volunteers at Hollygrove Market and Farm (HGMF) in exchange for a box of fresh produce valued at $25.00 in New Orleans, LA on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. USDA photo by Karen Lawson.

New Orleans is known for many special things, not the least of which is its food.

That’s why Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan chose the crescent city this week to release a new report on the importance of food hubs in America.  The report finds that there is an increasing demand for fresh, local foods and the popularity of food hubs is growing quickly.  In fact, there are well over 200 across the country now, including Hollygrove Farm and Market in downtown New Orleans. Read more »

South Dakota Stronger Economies Together Training Provides an Opportunity to Plan Regionally

Come to Wall Drug! From the far reaches of the nation, these words are on billboards beckoning visitors to come and experience this tourist hotspot in Wall, South Dakota.  Community members that make up the Bad River/Badlands region in western South Dakota were in Wall this month for a different reason.

A training team made up of staff from South Dakota USDA Rural Development and South Dakota State University Extension were on hand to deliver the third training of a nine part series as part of the Stronger Economies Together (SET) regional economic development initiative. Read more »

USDA Funding Helps Reopen a Town’s Only Grocery Store

Recently, Rural Cooperative Development funding helped to reopen a local Nebraska grocery store.  The story goes like this.

The loss of a grocery store in a rural community can be a devastating blow, especially when it is the only, or at least major, source of local groceries. Not only do people then have to travel farther and expend more time and money to get their groceries, but it can also make it difficult on community pride and make it harder to attract new residents and businesses.

When the only grocery store in Elwood, Neb., closed in January of 2012, community leaders quickly responded, organizing a community meeting to consider opening a cooperatively owned grocery store. Jim Crandall of the UNL Nebraska Cooperative Development Center (NCDC), which receives funding from USDA Rural Development’s Rural Cooperative Development Grants, was the primary speaker at this first meeting to explain the concept of community ownership as a cooperative. The meeting attracted more than 100 people, almost all of whom felt that a grocery store was vital to the future of their community. Prior to and following the initial meeting, community leaders developed and distributed a survey to gauge interest in opening a co-op grocery store. The community response showed widespread support for the concept. A committed, hard-working steering committee was formed to begin the process of studying the feasibility of a grocery store, the cooperative business model, and creating pro-forma financials. Read more »