A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack: We should expect more of our government

By Tim Marema Special to KyForward In making the rounds to promote the open enrollment period of healthcare exchanges, the Ag Secretary also said Americans need to help reverse the “30 years of attacks on government generally.” The secretary also describes the 24-page memo he’s written to whoever succeeds him and his hopes for the continuation of the White House Rural Council. Tom Vilsack is...

Drought may mean farmers in 10 southeastern Kentucky counties are eligible for federal aid

Farmers in 10 southeastern Kentucky counties may be eligible for federal aid under an agricultural disaster declaration issued as a result of the ongoing drought throughout the Commonwealth. “The drought that has gripped Kentucky in recent months has been especially hard on farmers,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “Crops have been affected, and livestock producers have been forced...

USDA partners with UK to establish the national Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center

In Kentucky alone, more than 26 percent of children live in poverty. (Photo from UKNow)   U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and University of Kentucky officials in Lexington today to announce the establishment of the USDA Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center at UK.   The center will use “cutting-edge solutions in child nutrition to reduce child...

USDA block grants will help Kentucky’s specialty crops businesses ‘grow and prosper’

By Tim Thornberry KyForward correspondent   Earlier this month, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that nearly $118 million in grants would go to states to help in efforts of strengthening markets for specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops.   That money was part of the Farm Bill package passed by Congress earlier this year. Vilsack...

New standards mean snacks must be smarter in school cafeterias, stores, vending machines

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)   By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News   Schools will have to provide students with healthier snacks and beverages during the school day this year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Smart Snacks in School” standards.     The Hunger-Free Kids Act, which gave schools three years to make their menus healthier with more...

Rural Blog: A ‘Quiet crisis’ is confronting agriculture as farmland continues to decrease

(Graphic from Census of Agriculture)   The amount of U.S. farmland is decreasing at a rapid rate, “with the country losing three acres of farmland every minute,” at a time when experts say more land will be needed to grow enough food to feed the world, reports Agri-Pulse, a Washington newsletter.   The recently released Census of Agriculture reports that American farmland dropped...

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture says to be part
of new rural economy is ‘amazing opportunity’

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, answers a question posed by University of Kentucky Department of Forestry junior, Hannah Angel, from London, Ky. (Photo by Stephen Patton)   By Carol Lea Spence Special to KyForward   The economic health of the country’s rural communities affects us all, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stressed as he spoke recently to students and faculty...

Officials see ‘meaningful progress’ toward
a new future for Appalachia, rural counties

Gov. Steve Beshear and Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers joined U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today to announce the first report from last month’s Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Summit, as well as to reveal significant new partnership opportunities through the USDA – which the leaders said mean promising new strategies for the success of Eastern Kentucky and the entire Commonwealth.   In...

Rural Blog: During UK visit, ag chief Vilsack says Farm Bill should pass by end of month

Special to KyForward   Following an appearance at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he believes Congress will pass a Farm Bill by the end of the month.   (Photo from Wikimedia Commons) “I’m confident we’re now at a point that we’ve raised the expectation level so high that there’s...

The Rural Blog: Vilsack calls for ‘outrage,’
not ‘disappointment,’ at defeat of Farm Bill

By Al Cross Special to KyForward   In his first major speech since last Thursday’s surprise defeat of the Farm Bill, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said rural advocates have failed to express proper outrage about it. And his 42 minutes of remarks at the National Rural Assembly’s gathering near Bethesda, Md., also laid out some of the talking points he thinks they should make to...