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RD Customer’s Cloud-Based Ecommerce Product Helps Farmers Reach New Markets During COVID-19

As the new Acting Administrator for USDA Rural Development’s Rural Housing Service, I know that one of the best parts of working in rural America is the relationships we build with our customers, relationships that often span many years. I was fortunate to see these relationships in action in my most recent role as State Director for Virginia. It’s rewarding to watch a customer’s efforts make an impact on the community they serve. And it’s especially gratifying to see a customer experience dramatic growth and begin serving communities beyond their geographical area. That is the case for the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation and Rural Sustainability (VAFAIRS), specifically, their ecommerce program, Lulus Local Food.

From Vet to Fed: U.S. Coast Guard Veteran Now Helps to Protect America’s Agricultural Resources

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the agency I work with, will host virtual hiring events focused on military veterans this Summer and Fall as the agency looks to fill positions to help carry out our Agency mission to safeguard American agriculture. The first veterans virtual hiring event (PDF, 2.6 MB) APHIS will offer is on August 11, 2020 in partnership with the Department of Veteran Affairs Veterans Readiness and Employment Program (VR&E), with another to follow in the Fall. Veterans, transitioning from military life, make excellent recruits for the APHIS team—as a veteran, I know.

Bringing Technology to Specialty Crops

Each day we use technologies to solve problems and accomplish tasks that once would have taken much longer. Whether facial recognition software, a smart thermostat, or a robotic vacuum, technology has changed the way we live and work. Farmers are also using technology to make production of specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts, more efficient. These crops make up one third of U.S. crop production sales and one sixth of U.S. agricultural sales.

Emergency Telehealth Network Working Together Amid COVID-19

I was excited to see Augusta University Research Institute featured on the local news for the phenomenal work they are accomplishing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Augusta University is using telemedicine equipment that they purchased with a grant from USDA Rural Development to run an emergency telehealth hub in rural Georgia. The hub connected five hospitals to diagnostic and educational experts at Augusta University. The goal is to help Emergency Room doctors access highly trained healthcare professionals by telemedicine and to shorten travel for rural patients to reach care and, ultimately, to improve health-related quality of life.

NIFA Impact: Research on Regulatory Policy Impacting Low-Moisture Food Safety

Nut products. Spices. Pet food. Breakfast cereals. Although most consumers would not expect these foods to contain harmful bacteria, all have been linked to nationwide outbreaks and recalls due to the presence of salmonella, which is the most frequently reported cause of food-related illness in the U.S. To better regulate the way foods are grown, harvested, and processed, the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act focuses on preventing food contamination rather than responding to foodborne-illness events.