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Connecting South Dakota’s Rural Communities to Opportunities in Business, Education, Health Care and Beyond

In early December, I had the privilege of announcing a USDA Rural Development ReConnect Pilot Program investment of more than $9.5 million to Valley Telecommunications Cooperative Association, Inc. dba Valley FiberCom in Flandreau, South Dakota. This investment will help Valley deploy high-speed broadband internet e-Connectivity to more than 1,750 rural households, 27 farms, 17 businesses and one critical community facility.

Cheese and So Much More: Ag Census Data Show Multi-Faceted Wisconsin Farm Economy

Wisconsin (PDF, 941 KB) is known as America’s Dairyland; however, the 2017 Census of Agriculture data show us that Wisconsin has a diverse agricultural industry. It’s no surprise Wisconsin ranks number one in cheese production, but did you know it also ranks number one in corn for silage, cranberry, and snap bean production?

Why I Love New Mexico’s Forests and Public Lands

I heard a story once about “horny toads” from my mother. How she used to catch so many they filled a shoebox. And my grandfather told me about the Lobo’s howl.

Both of these animals are rare or endangered now and I have not found one myself. I hope one day to tell my own children about the animals I experience in the forests of New Mexico. Tadpoles, horned owls, fence-tail lizards, trout, coyotes and bats. We hike through the forest into the Rio Grande gorge and I know it is magic. The beauty of it all is more than enchanting, it takes my breath away, or brings me back to it in a way. I feel like Brian from my book, Hatchet, when I spend time in the wilderness and I return to a place of quietness and respect for nature.

New Youngsville, Louisiana High School, Funded by USDA, Helps Drive Community Growth, Prosperity

It was almost 50 years since a new high school was constructed in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana. Now, thanks to support from USDA Rural Development, the 8,000 residents of Youngsville, a growing community in the parish, have a state-of-the-art school: one that all area high school students attend with pride.

Nevada – We Grow Things Here!

While UFO spotting on the Alien Highway and non-stop entertainment in Las Vegas beckon people all over the world to Nevada, many might miss out on the thriving agricultural community that lives and works throughout every county in the state. According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, over 3,400 farm operations cover more than 6.1 million acres or 8.7 percent of the Silver State. The average farm size in Nevada--1,790 acres--is the third largest average for all U.S. states. When compared to Nevada’s median state farm size of 42 acres (half the farms above this acreage, half below), the data indicate there are some BIG operations here.

Talking Turkey

Did you know that between 2014 and 2018 approximately two thirds of U.S. turkey meat was produced in just six states: Minnesota, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, and Iowa? Minnesota, the largest producer, produces more than 15 percent of U.S. turkey meat annually.