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 »
NRCS Supervisory District Conservationist Priscilla Williamson (left) worked with Charles McLaurin (right) to remove invasive grasses and install cross fencing, improving water quality downstream. NRCS photo.
Raising hay and working the farm was once something extra for Charles McLaurin. After retiring after 35 years as a school teacher, he’s enjoying his new full-time job as a cattle rancher in Leake County, Miss., where he not only leads a healthy head of cattle but also serves as a steward of natural resources.
With the help of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), he is using conservation to improve his operations and help the environment, including the Pearl River and Gulf of Mexico, where the water from his farm eventually flows.
McLaurin qualified for financial assistance through StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative as a beginning and limited resource rancher. The initiative addresses high-priority funding needs in rural communities in 16 states, including Mississippi. Read more »
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 »
Mildred Griggs of Marianna, Ark., installed a seasonal high tunnel through the USDA StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity.
Mildred Griggs, of Marianna, Ark., wasn’t looking for bragging rights when she installed her new seasonal high tunnel, last year, but that’s what she earned this spring after harvesting her first winter vegetable crop.
“We had the best salad green mix in the region,” says Griggs.
With the high tunnel, Griggs was able to extend her fall growing season of fresh produce into the winter months. Her harvest included lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots and greens. Read more »
Pictured (Left to Right) Dr. Mohamed El-Sanousi, Director of Communications and Community Outreach of the Islamic Society of North America, Dr. Abed Ayoub, President of Islamic Relief USA, Michael Scuse, then-acting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Imam Faizul Khan of the Islamic Society of the Washington Area
As Hunger Action Month comes to a close, I am reminded of an employee event we held last month in honor of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. For many followers of the Islamic faith, the month of Ramadan – known as a time of fasting and sacrifice – is also a time of reflection. As we deal with hunger and thirst from sunrise to sunset, we are reminded of those who deal with hunger – and poverty – every day. As we reflect on our spiritual responsibilities, we must also recall our obligation to help others in times of need. For Muslim employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), this holds especially true.
USDA touches the lives of every American. Our nutrition and food safety programs ensure that all America’s children have access to safe, nutritious, balanced meals, while our rural development programs promote prosperous, self-sustaining communities. Our conservation programs protect our national forests and private working lands, while our agricultural support programs promote American agriculture and biotechnology while increasing food security around the world. Read more »
El Rincon Farm’s high tunnel and crops of lentils, corn, Chimayó chile and other crops in Chimayó, N.M. Photo from NRCS.
Everything that siblings Adán and Pilar Trujillo do on their Chimayó, New Mexico, farm connects with the community. Their lettuce and chile peppers feed students at local schools. And they sell their rhubarb, rainbow chard and red Russian kale at the community market just down the road in Española.
Conservation work helps the brother-and-sister duo make this possible. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is honoring contributions made by Hispanic Americans like the Trujillos to our nation during National Hispanic Heritage Month, an annual commemoration held Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Read more »