Michael Scuse, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, listens to those impacted by the Atlas Blizzard in South Dakota.
Farmers and ranchers know many variables are sometimes not in their hands, especially when it comes to weather. That’s why USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Senator Tim Johnson asked me to travel to South Dakota this week to see firsthand the widespread destruction to livestock in the wake of the Atlas Blizzard, and to consult with affected producers on how USDA can help right now – - despite two years of Congressional inaction on the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.
When I joined one farmer in his living room, learning how his livestock losses, including pregnant stock, meant years of income gone, I thought of Congress, how it lurches from one crisis to the next, and how that legislative atrophy creates real consequences beyond just American farmers but for entire rural communities. Read more »
ARS scientists and NIFA-funded researchers work to improve the tools and processes to develop better grapes and grapevines. Their discoveries will make it easier for grape breeders to identify vines that combine the most desirable traits.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
When it comes to grapes, there’s a New World-Old World dichotomy. Grapevines originating in the Americas (e.g. Vitis labrusca, Vitis riparia) can resist pests and diseases, but they generally don’t have the taste or aroma of grapes with European origins (Vitis vinifera). But European grapes are more susceptible to pests and disease.
Grape breeders try to combine the best of both worlds, but here’s the problem: if you cross one grape with another, there is no guarantee your progeny will inherit the desirable traits. And because it takes so much time to grow a grapevine, produce grapes from those vines, and for those grapes to be evaluated, bringing a new grape to market can take 20 years or more. Scientists can speed things up by identifying genes that give grapes the right blend of the best characteristics. Identifying the genes will tell you the characteristics of the vine without having to wait for it to grow. Read more »
The 8th Annual Governor’s Native American Summit was held last week at Utah Valley University in Salt Lake City, Utah. Utah’s Rural Development State Director Wilson “David” Conine wanted to share with attendees the importance a community development financial institution (CDFI) can play in tribal development. He turned to his counterpart, South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks who has over 20 years of experience working for Native community economic development.
Meeks recognized CDFI as an important part of the infrastructure for delivering consistent funding for housing and small business development activities that benefit low and moderate income people. They combine multiple sources of public and private capital in order to make loans and investments available in ways tailored to the particular underserved geographies and types of businesses or borrowers. Developing capacity among these types of organizations can increase utilization of USDA programs in a region, many of which provide long-term below-market capital for permanent improvements in rural areas. Read more »
Nellie Buckman is the daughter of a migrant worker. Growing up her family moved from place to place a lot. She never really had a place to call home until her adult years when she moved into a little tiny house that was originally from Igloo, South Dakota, which incidentally is located on the same lot line as her current residence which was built by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1979. Over the years, the Buckmans raised 10 children in this home. The transition from the little small house to the HUD house was quite an experience for the family. The HUD house was much bigger and in the beginning, the children all slept in one bedroom until they got used to having extra space. Her children now grown, Buckman’s home continues to be a gathering place for her large family.
“I love having a place to call home, to care for, and have all of my trinkets and memories surround me,” said Nellie Buckman. Read more »
Federal, State, and Tribal partners work on a solution to bring safe, affordable housing to South Dakota’s tribal areas. USDA photo.
South Dakota USDA Rural Development, Governor’s Office of Economic Development, South Dakota Housing Development Authority (SDHDA), and the Great Plains Native Asset Building Coalition convened a vital meeting of stakeholders recently to gain input on the creation of a statewide coalition to support and promote homeownership in South Dakota Native communities.
Six of the nine Indian reservations in South Dakota, including representatives of six Indian housing authorities participated in the session, as well as Nathan Sanderson of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. In addition to USDA Rural Development, federal stakeholders included the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, and Indian Health Service. About 50 people gathered for a daylong working session to provide critical impute on the goals and priorities of a proposed coalition. Read more »
Crow Creek MOU signing – Pictured left to right are Bruce Jones, USDA Rural Development Acting Housing Director; Brandon Sazue Sr., Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Chairman; Leeann Piskule, Crow Creek Housing Authority Residential Services Coordinator; Paula Corcoran, USDA Rural Development Loan Specialist; Lori Moen, GROW South Dakota Chief Operating Officer; Ronnette Kirkie-Walton, Crow Creek Housing Authority Acting Chief Executive Officer; Terry Abernathy, Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Secretary; and Wayne McGhee Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Councilman.
Recently, Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Chairman Brandon Sazue Sr. joined USDA Rural Development Acting Housing Director Bruce Jones and Lori Moen, Chief Operating Officer for GROW South Dakota (GROW) in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that will streamline the process towards increased homeownership on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation. “What we do today can make a difference for tomorrow. By working together, we support the betterment of our Tribe as we know housing is much needed on our Reservation” said Chairman Sazue Sr. Read more »