May 2nd dawned a majestic spring day in the Rocky Mountains of southwestern Colorado as rural and tribal stakeholders from the Four Corners region descended upon the San Juan National Forest Headquarters to learn more about USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative. Participants traveled from New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and the east coast to discuss strategies to help USDA deliver its programs more successfully in persistently poor rural areas. Read more »
In the four years I’ve served as Deputy Secretary, I’ve talked with thousands of women in agriculture – from young women thinking about entering farming to older women who have been tilling the soil for decades. Each of their stories is powerful on its own. But taken together, they have been an inspiration to the entire country. And today, we know that there are nearly one million of these stories around the country – nearly one million women farming and ranching on America’s working lands.
A study released today by USDA’s Economic Research Service, Characteristics of Women Farm Operators and Their Farms found that the number of women-operated farms more than doubled between 1982 and 2007. When all women involved with farming are added up – including primary and secondary operators – they are nearly one million strong and account for 30% of U.S. farmers. Read more »
Earth Day was earlier this week and one village in Wisconsin has helped secure the future for themselves and their children through environmental upgrades. Nestled in a valley in western Wisconsin, the Village of Spring Valley has faced its share of challenges throughout its history. Prior to completion of an earthen dam in 1968, flooding was a chronic problem.
Two projects largely funded by USDA Rural Development have improved the quality of life and the environment in Spring Valley. The first, completed in June 2011, is the new wastewater treatment plant. Because the Rotating Biological Contactor system’s capacity had been significantly reduced in years prior, the need to upgrade the plant was inevitable. The Village received $3.5 million in funding through USDA Rural Development’s Water and Environmental program.
“The wastewater treatment plant is more compliant with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. We release back into the Eau Galle River after treatment, so it’s imperative that we meet the standards,” said Marsha Brunkhorst, Spring Valley Village President. Read more »
Engineer checking a flowmeterand V-notch weir on a dairy farm in California.
Earth Day is one of our favorite days at USDA Rural Development because we get to showcase the important work that we do to improve water quality for millions of rural Americans. As a part of our Earth Day Celebration this year, USDA Rural Development is announcing 43 projects that will bring new and improved water and waste disposal service to rural communities in 32 states.
For example, one of the projects we’re announcing is in Texas. Buffalo Gap, a rural community outside of Abilene will construct a first-ever wastewater collection system. The community currently is all-septic. The funds will allow construction of sewer lines, manholes, lift station and cleanouts. The system will collect sewage and pump it to Abilene’s wastewater treatment plant. This is just one example of a small community doing big things to help its residents this Earth Day. Read more »
“The Rural Business Enterprise Grant program (RBEG) is one of the most flexible economic development opportunities offered by USDA Rural Development.” Those words from New Mexico State Director Terry Brunner kicked off a webinar workshop recently to discuss the RBEG program and how to apply for funds.
In the past, here in New Mexico, the RBEG has been used to fund business incubators, feasibility studies, business plans, and it has financed technical assistance programs for business development.
Earlier this month, the staff from Rural Development’s State Office in New Mexico hosted a workshop that gave a complete overview of the RBEG program explaining the funding is made available to public bodies, nonprofit organizations, public and private nonprofit institutions of higher education, and Indian tribes to facilitate and finance the development of small and emerging private business enterprises in rural communities and cities up to 50,000 in population. Read more »
On a recent trip to Wisconsin, USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager had an opportunity to revisit a specialty cheese plant in Montfort, Wis. that he had helped to establish about ten years ago.
In 2002, the Wisconsin Farmers Union hired a cheesemaker and took steps to begin the start-up of a specialty cheese plant in Montfort, Wis. to add value to milk produced by Wisconsin dairy farmers and to create the WI Farmers Union Specialty Cheese Company. To ensure success of the endeavor, the Wisconsin Farmers Union sought assistance from Golden Plains Ventures, an organization founded by Under Secretary Tonsager. Read more »