This afternoon, USDA Rural Development in South Dakota convened a Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) meeting in Sioux Falls. Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager addressed the group of 25 stakeholders. Tonsager shared with the group that over the next couple of months, USDA Rural Development will be convening a total of 47 energy roundtables with stakeholders across the country to talk about energy opportunities.
“Our country is moving more and more toward renewable energy sources,” stated Tonsager. “Those of us at USDA want to stand up that renewable energy industry in America’s rural backyard, and we want to work with all of you to make it happen.” Read more »
Recently, in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, USDA Rural Development hosted a “Partners in Building Community Forum” in which the primary focus was to generate ideas that would promote job growth in Wisconsin. Over the past three years, USDA Rural Development has helped to create or save more than 1450 jobs in Southwestern Wisconsin alone.
The forum explored regional efforts and partnerships, in conjunction with USDA Rural Development’s assistance, that have contributed to economic development, job creation/sustainability, and the expansion of necessary community services, on a regional level, in Southwestern Wisconsin. Read more »
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.
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The owners of the Chapel Hill (NC) Creamery, got a grant to help them expand their cheese operation. The VAPG grant will supply working capital to help the farm meet its goals. (Photo courtesy of the Chapel Hill Herald Sun.)
Earlier today, I had the honor of joining non-profit organizations, state and federal agencies, institutions, CEOs and others involved with agriculture and economic development to kick off the “The Many Faces of Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” conference hosted at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. I was there to continue the work that President Obama highlighted in his State of the Union address last month. Read more »
During a recent visit to Oregon, USDA’s Director for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Max Finberg, visited the Food Innovation Center in Portland, where researchers are helping producers get local edibles on the shelf.
The Food Innovation Center (FIC), an experiment station administered jointly by Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Agriculture, works extensively with USDA to help agricultural producers and food businesses get local foods to market. To make this possible, the FIC conducts a variety of studies related to product development, packaging, shelf life, consumer acceptance, economic feasibility and product marketing. Read more »
North Dakota produce at a local farmers market. Photo Courtesy of Sue Balcom. Used with permission.
A growing consumer appetite for foods grown in their region was the focus of a recent Food and Agricultural Council (FAC) meeting in Valley City, North Dakota. FAC Chairman, Jasper Schneider, also state director of USDA Rural Development, invited healthy food activists to share the ups and downs of this growing movement. Read more »