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Posts tagged: St. Louis

USDA Value Added Producer Grants: Turning Great Ideas into Sustainable Business

Earlier this month, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced almost 300 Value Added Producer Grant recipients across the Nation.  Each one of those recipients has a story, and a dream that, with help from USDA, will become reality. From producing pumpkin puree and gourmet cheese to expanding a caviar production operation in Idaho (Yes, Idaho), Rural Americans are using these matching grants to grow their businesses and bring high quality products to market.

Using funding provided through the USDA Value Added Producer Grant program, an Idaho producer will expand sales of gourmet caviar. Photo by Ashley Smith, Times-News staff photographer, used with permission.

Using funding provided through the USDA Value Added Producer Grant program, an Idaho producer will expand sales of gourmet caviar. Photo by Ashley Smith, Times-News staff photographer, used with permission.

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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Highlights Trade During Visit to St. Louis

L to R-- Mike Baroni, vice president of economic policy, Archer Daniels Midland Company; Dr. Jon Hagler, director, Missouri Department of Agriculture; Secretary Vilsack; Senator Claire McCaskill; Jim Fisher, pork producer, Fisher Farms

L to R-- Mike Baroni, vice president of economic policy, Archer Daniels Midland Company; Dr. Jon Hagler, director, Missouri Department of Agriculture; Secretary Vilsack; Senator Claire McCaskill; Jim Fisher, pork producer, Fisher Farms

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spent part of last week in St. Louis, Mo., making several stops to promote trade and agriculture and to announce the opening of a new office in St. Louis for the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. Read more »

St. Louis Chef Continues Lifelong Child Nutrition Efforts through Chefs Move to School

It was a pleasure to learn about Dr. D’Aun Carrell’s career-long commitment to children’s nutrition.  Even more so to discover her involvement with Chefs Move to Schools, part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s www.LetsMove.gov campaign to help solve the problem of childhood obesity.  The initiative was a natural fit, as she’s been matching local St. Louis chefs with schools since 1992.

Dr. Carrell’s path to the kitchen began at age three, when she learned to cook with her grandmother for the ranch hands of her Texas upbringing.  She brings those early cooking experiences full-circle in her nutrition and cooking lessons for kindergarten through grade 6 children in her curriculum.  Carrell is also active with the American Culinary Federation’s Chef & Child Foundation, for which she serves as the chair of the St. Louis chapter. Read more »

About 175 Brave Sub Zero Weather to Attend Jobs Forum in St. Louis

Many dug out of snow drifts and bundled up due to temperatures well below zero on Saturday to attend the Tri-State Jobs & Economic Development Forum in St. Louis hosted by USDA Rural Development (RD) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) of Illinois, Iowa and Missouri.  The forum was held in conjunction with the Missouri Governor’s Conference on Agriculture.

I welcomed the 175 attendees to St. Louis, set the stage for the forum and introduced the welcome video by USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.  A cross section of rural areas was in attendance including youth from FFA and 4-H.

Bill Menner from Iowa RD introduced the five panelists who made short presentations on jobs related issues: Dr. Jon Hagler, Director of Missouri Department of Agriculture; Elisabeth Buck, Director of Iowa Workforce Development; Randy Harris, Program Director Laborers’ International Local 338; Brian Bauer with Business Banking Market Manager for National City Bank; and Sharon Gulick, Director University of Missouri Extension’s Community Economic and Entrepreneurial Development (EXCEED) Program.

Some of the “key” things I heard to impact jobs and the economic conditions centered around: enhanced opportunities to promote the “spirit of entrepreneurship” through incentives, technical assistance and capital; more use of collaboration on a regional basis to attract businesses;  streamlining of government regulations and red tape for start up businesses plus improvements in tax code; more lenders willing to utilize government guarantees or other programs to help new or expanding businesses; more funding for jobs training  to help with “skilling up” the workforce; more funding for summer youth programs; expansion of high speed rural broadband access; more funding for ethanol and bio-diesel programs; continued high levels of funding for RD infrastructure programs to sustain rural communities and provide for a high quality of life in rural areas to help maintain and attract businesses and jobs for skilled workers.

The entire forum was captured on audio and video plus numerous staff took notes and pictures.  A report will be submitted to USDA Secretary Vilsack and President Obama.

We collected many recommendations and suggestions from a variety of partners and stakeholders during the forum. Many completed comment cards and we encouraged those in attendance and others that had contacted us to provide comments on the USDA Blog website www.usda.gov/blog/usda or e-mailing to jobsforum@ia.usda.gov

We truly thank everyone that participated and do feel confident that the ideas being collected and submitted will provide a positive result in stimulating jobs and economic growth in the future.

Janie Dunning, Missouri State Director

Opening Remarks at Regional Jobs Forum in St. Louis by Janie Dunning, Missouri Rural Development (RD) State Director. Seated (L to r) Colleen Callahan, Illinois RD State Director; Randy Harris with Laborers International; Elisabeth Buck, Director Iowa Workforce Development; Bill Menner, Iowa RD State Director; Sharon Gulick, Director of University of Missouri EXCEED Program; and Brian Bauer with National City Bank

Opening Remarks at Regional Jobs Forum in St. Louis by Janie Dunning, Missouri Rural Development (RD) State Director. Seated (L to r) Colleen Callahan, Illinois RD State Director; Randy Harris with Laborers International; Elisabeth Buck, Director Iowa Workforce Development; Bill Menner, Iowa RD State Director; Sharon Gulick, Director of University of Missouri EXCEED Program; and Brian Bauer with National City Bank

To learn more, go to the Rural Development and FSA Job Roundtables Schedule, and the News Release, “USDA to Host Roundtables on Jobs, Economic Growth