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technical assistance

Lessons from the Field: A New Series for Food Hub Development

Since 2009, USDA has invested in 29,100 local food opportunities, including food hubs, small scale processing and farmers markets across all 50 states and the US territories. These investments include over 12,000 loans and micro-loans to small-scale producers who often sell products locally and over 13,000 high tunnels (low-cost covered structures that extend the growing season and make locally-grown products available later in the year).

However, as with any investment, the success of a business depends not just on an infusion of capital, but also on good planning.  Technical assistance services such as feasibility studies, business planning, financing strategies, supply chain logistics, marketing, and guidance with the policy and regulatory environment are equally important.

Strength in Numbers: USDA Employees Join Delaware Residents Who Are Building Their Homes in Order to "Own" Their Future

A stormy sky didn’t dampen spirits as a crew of us from USDA Rural Development’s national headquarters celebrated National Homeownership Month by helping Mutual Self-Help Housing Program participants build their own homes in Lincoln, DE.

USDA Rural Development’s Self-Help Housing Program offers families with modest means a hands-on approach to achieve homeownership.  Groups of families work side-by-side on nights and weekends to construct their homes, and no one moves in until all the houses are completed.

With Aid of TASC Grant, South Carolina and Georgia Exports to Mexico are Looking Peachy

In a scene that’s a telltale sign of summer across the southern United States, farmers’ markets and grocery stores are now proudly declaring that they are stocked with ripe, delicious, American-grown peaches.

Thanks in part to a Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) grant from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to the Georgia and South Carolina Peach councils, fresh Georgia and South Carolina peaches are now also being enjoyed by our neighbors in Mexico for the first time in 17 years.

Conference Covers Past, Present, and Future of International Food Aid and Development Assistance

The USDA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have once again joined forces to collaborate with individuals and organizations that feed hungry people, promote sustainable development and provide technical assistance around the world.  This is the thirteenth year of the International Food Aid and Development Conference, and I was proud to deliver keynote remarks here in Kansas City, Mo. Nearly 600 people from more than 25 countries discussed what has worked, what has not, and what we can do in the future to improve our food assistance and program delivery.

The U.S. government’s international food assistance programs will benefit 5.2 million people in the developing world this year. The challenges of global food security are enormous -- nearly one billion people are malnourished, and this number will likely grow as the world population continues to rise. Meanwhile, the United States, like many other nations, is facing serious budget pressures. In addition, commodity prices and demand continue to rise, squeezing food assistance dollars further.

USDA’s Food for Progress Program Helps African Growth and Opportunity Act Countries Integrate into the Global Economy

Nations like Liberia have much to gain, as high-level officials from the United States and 37 Sub-Saharan African countries gather in Lusaka, Zambia, for the June 9-10 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum.  Not only is Liberia eligible for AGOA trade preferences, allowing it to export a host of agricultural products to the United States duty-free, but it could receive more than $87 million in U.S. assistance in fiscal year 2011 to strengthen economic growth, which includes its agricultural sector. U.S. trade capacity building and technical assistance places Liberia in a better position than most to take advantage of AGOA trade preferences.