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Posts tagged: Rural Economy

I was Local When Local Wasn’t Cool

Under Secretary Avalos with fresh apples from the USDA Farmers Market.  Share your favorite local ingredients by mentioning @AMS_USDA and using the #LocalisCool hashtag.

Under Secretary Avalos with fresh apples from the USDA Farmers Market. Share your favorite local ingredients by mentioning @AMS_USDA and using the #LocalisCool hashtag.

No one would ever accuse me of being a trend-setter—especially my kids.  But I’m proud to say that I’ve been part of the local food movement my whole life. I grew up on a family farm in New Mexico.  For us, local food wasn’t really a trend or a movement.  It was how we made our living.  By growing, raising and selling our food throughout the year, we connected to other farmers, ranchers and our neighbors.

More American families are making a conscious decision to eat healthier and buy local foods.  Many farmers and producers are combining their hard work with innovative practices like hoop houses and new marketing opportunities like food hubs.  These are two examples of modern approaches that are helping extend growing and selling seasons and bringing farmers and suppliers together to meet the increasing demand for local foods. Read more »

Food Hubs – Building Businesses and Sustaining Communities

An infographic looking at how food hubs are building businesses and sustaining communities. Click to view a larger version.

An infographic looking at how food hubs are building businesses and sustaining communities. Click to view a larger version.

Food is a great equalizer.  Whether sharing it with loved ones around our holiday table or worrying about how we’re going to fit lunch in to our busy work days–food is something we all have in common.  But we don’t always think about the path it takes to get to our plates or even the store shelves.  And while there are many different ways it gets to us, we’re seeing food hubs play an increasingly important role for everyone along the way–farmer to corner store, chef to school lunch.

Food hubs are innovative business models emerging more and more across the country. They bring farmers and suppliers together, with 81 percent of food hubs focusing on increasing opportunities for local farms and allowing smaller producers to pool their products and fulfill larger contracts. Ninety-one percent of food hubs are near cities, connecting rural farmers to larger suburban and urban communities.  Oftentimes, farmers who work with food hubs offer a wider variety of products and are able to continue selling their goods later into the growing season.  That translated into an average of over $3.7 million in sales in the last year.  And USDA’s efforts have helped expand the number of regional food hubs operating around the country.  There are over 230, a 65 percent increase since 2009. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: All Americans Benefit from Local and Regional Markets

One very important reason for Congress to expedite work toward a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is to continue today’s rapid growth in local and regional marketing opportunities for American agriculture.

From local farmers markets to regional food hubs, these new opportunities benefit a wide range of Americans from all walks of life.

They benefit farmers and ranchers who are looking to start selling locally or scale up to regional sales. Farmers markets and regional food hubs have a particularly positive impact for small and limited-resource producers. Sales of local foods are growing rapidly, creating a multibillion-dollar market opportunity for producers. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: A New Report that Highlights the Need for a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill

There are a wide range of important reasons why rural America needs passage of a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible. One of the most pressing is to grow the rural economy in a way that creates new jobs and reverses the troubling decline in population that we’ve seen recently in America’s small towns.

This week, USDA’s Economic Research Service released its annual report on the economic condition of rural America – the 2013 Rural America at a Glance report.   The data in this report underscores the challenges of stagnant job growth and persistent poverty faced by many communities across rural America. Read more »

We Still Want to Hear Your #MyFarmBill Stories!

As we get back to work following the lapse in appropriations, USDA remains focused on sharing the importance of Farm Bill programs for all Americans. A Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is critical to growing the rural economy, providing nutrition to families in need, strengthening agricultural research, growing a biobased economy and much more.

Now that we’re back to work, our #MyFarmBill social media campaign is ramping back up, and we need to hear from you! We’re asking agriculture and rural stakeholders from across the nation to continue sharing stories on how #MyFarmBill impacts you – using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other tools. Your input will build on the incredible response we’ve already seen – videos, photos and tweets that you can view here. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: The White House Rural Council: Partnering in Support of Rural America

Rural America faces tremendous uncertainty today. Congress has not yet passed a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, and the current extension of 2008 Farm Bill programs will soon expire. Additionally, thus far, no budget has been provided by Congress to continue funding the Federal government past September 30.

Amid this uncertainty, USDA remains focused on our mission and on our work to revitalize the rural economy.  We have delivered record investments under President Obama’s leadership, and we will continue working to do so.   In a time of reduced resources, we’ve also taken a wide range of new, collaborative approaches with other government agencies—complementing our public-private partnerships and creating better collaboration among state and local partners. Read more »