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business and industry loan

Secretary's Column: USDA Support Keeps Old Glory Flying High

What began as a small sail-making shop in 19th century New York City has evolved into the modern realization of one family’s American Dream—a family-owned and –operated small business whose product has been a part of some of the most iconic images in our nation’s history.

Alexander Annin’s sail-making shop, established in the 1820s, has evolved into the oldest and largest flag company in the United States and is still in operation today. Commencing with Zachary Taylor’s 1849 presidential inauguration; to the flag-draped coffin of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865; onward to the iconic image of U.S. Marines hoisting the flag on Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi in 1945; to the flag planted by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969—all were Annin-made flags.

Secretary's Column: New Farm Bill and 2015 Budget Expand Opportunity in Rural America

This week, President Obama released USDA’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal, which supports our ongoing work to create jobs and opportunity in rural America.

The budget builds on the new opportunities available to us through the recently-passed 2014 Farm Bill to achieve reform and results for the American taxpayer; foster opportunity for the men and women living, working and raising families in rural America; and support innovation through strategic, future-focused investments.

My team at USDA has been hard at work identifying everything that will be required—regulations, guidance and other activities—to develop a plan to implement the new Farm Bill.

USDA Undersecretary Saddles up for Clean Energy, Business and Economic Development in Nevada

With Nevada USDA Rural Development State Director Sarah Adler as his side-kick, Agriculture Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager hit the trail earlier this month in Nevada, kicking off a major job-creating clean energy announcement, meeting with business owners and talking to ranchers severely challenged by the drought.

Tonsager kicked off his trip with a news conference to announce a loan guarantee to Fulcrum Sierra BioFuels to build an advanced biofuels refinery in northern Nevada. The refinery will convert 147,000 tons of municipal solid waste into more than 10 million gallons of advanced biofuels each year, creating 430 jobs during construction and over 50 permanent jobs.

He met with state agency representatives interested in capitalizing Nevada small business projects, and met with a USDA Business and Industry loan guarantee recipient – a manufacturer who recently attended a White House conference on manufacturing.

USDA Programs at a Glance

The Department of Agriculture is a big institution, with a $149 billion budget and 114,000 employees.  When Secretary Vilsack asked me to spearhead the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, my first impulse wasn’t to create new programs and authorities, but rather to figure out how better to use the resources at hand.  Of course, I was aware of certain USDA programs that have, for years, focused on local food, such as the Farmers Market Promotion Program within the Agricultural Marketing Service.  I was also aware that Congress, as part of the 2008 farm bill, took new interest in local foods by, for example, directing that USDA set aside 5% of funding to promote local foods within the Business and Industry Loan Program in the Rural Business and Cooperative Service.  Finally, I knew many existing USDA programs, while not dedicated to local food, could be harnessed to better support local and regional food systems.