ON THE OCCASION OF SAMOA NATIONAL DAY

 

Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State
Washington, DC

Please accept our best wishes as you and the people of Samoa celebrate Independence Day.

Since 1971, the United States and the Independent State of Samoa have been close and enduring partners in the Pacific. Our two countries are joined by our shared belief in democracy and freedom. Together, we have partnered to further these foundational principles across the region. This work continues as we work together in the Indo-Pacific to promote democracy, expand economic opportunity and safeguard natural resources.

May today remind you of the freedoms we have secured, the freedom we enjoy today, and the freedom we are striving to secure for the generations to come. Happy Independence Day

Administration to Increase H-2B Workers by 15,000 for Fiscal Year 2018

WASHINGTON, DC U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today issued the following statement on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) decision to allow an additional 15,000 H-2B workers for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, which ends September 30.

“While we would have hoped this news would have come sooner from the administration, it may still help a number of our businesses in South Dakota. South Dakota’s tourism and construction seasons are already underway, and employers across the state have been left without the temporary work they need to fully operate. While we hope today’s announcement will help, the lack of adequate help has already had an adverse impact on these small business owners’ livelihoods, as well as the entire economy of our state. Moving forward, finding a long-term fix for the H-2B visa issue is vital. As jobs are created and our economy grows, we must utilize highly effective, thoroughly vetted programs such as the H-2B program if we are to ever fully reach our economic potential.”

The omnibus appropriations bill, which was signed into law in April allowed the DHS to increase the number of H-2B visas if it is determined that the needs of American businesses cannot be satisfied in fiscal year 2018 with domestic workers.

On February 27, 2018, USCIS determined that it had received sufficient H-2B petitions to meet the full FY 2018 statutory cap of 66,000.

Starting immediately, eligible petitioners for H-2B visas can file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. Eligible petitioners must submit a supplemental attestation on Form ETA 9142-B-CAA-2 with their petition.

Details on eligibility and filing requirements will be available in the final temporary rule and on the Increase in H-2B Nonimmigrant Visas for FY 2018 webpage to be published on uscis.gov when the final temporary rule is posted for public inspection.

South Dakota Named the “Most Promising Destination” by Chinese Tourism Group

 

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota was recently named the “Most Promising Destination” in the United States at a National Tourism Award Ceremony held by Tourism Media Group, an official partner of the China Travel Service Association.

“The partnership with our Chinese tourism marketing agency East-West Marketing has brought us tremendous growth in this market,” said James Hagen, Secretary of the Department of Tourism. “This award demonstrates that South Dakota is a destination that Chinese travelers want to visit and experience. We are excited about the potential for growth in the number of Chinese travelers coming to South Dakota in the years and decades to come.”

For seven years, the Department of Tourism has been building relationships with traditional travel agencies and online travel agencies in the Chinese market. The department has launched tour routes to meet outbound travel demand from Chinese tourists, and engaged with Chinese media to keep them informed of the latest South Dakota offerings. Unique marketing campaigns have been launched, including a partnership with DiDi Rental Car, a ride-sharing company similar to Uber and Lyft, that targets tourists who have an interest in road trip vacations.

“In the past seven years, South Dakota has seen a steady increase of Chinese visitors to our state,” said Hagen. “China is the fastest growing group of visitors to the United States and, within a few years, more Chinese visitors will be traveling to the United States than from any other country.  It’s an important market for our state, especially since Chinese travelers stay in our country longer and spend more money than other international visitors,” continued Hagen.

Hagen notes that the Department of Tourism is continuing to monitor the Chinese market for potential investment of marketing dollars since the Chinese are typically interested in South Dakota’s monuments, memorials, and Old West and Native American cultures.

The National Tourism Award Ceremony is held by Tourism Media Group, the official media partner of the China Travel Service Association. National Tourism Magazine is a leading tourism industry magazine in China and produced by National Media Group. The magazine produces and distributes 15,000 issues each month, 80 percent of which go to travel agencies. Readers of the magazine include millions of Chinese tourism professionals.

The South Dakota Department of Tourism is comprised of Tourism and the South Dakota Arts Council. The department is led by Secretary James Hagen.

The 15th Annual Wheel Jam will be held May 31 – June 3 at the South Dakota State Fairgrounds in Huron

HURON, S.D. – Wheel Jam hosts the Wheel Jam Truck Show, car show, motorcycle show, Make it Mine Show ‘n Shine and Pick Up Party, the Original SD BBQ Championships and two nights of stock car racing featuring the Iverson’s Late Model Challenge and the Prostrollo Motors Challenge Cup.

“Wheel Jam is three big days, three big shows and thousands of wheels,” said State Fair manager Peggy Besch. “Come check out the car, truck and motorcycle shows, as well as numerous other events. Wheel Jam offers free event admission. It’s a weekend you don’t want to miss.”

Throughout the three days, there will also be activities specifically geared toward trucks, cars or motorcycles. Activities include the truck show light show, poker run, biker games, parade, vendors, audio sound competition and classic car auction. Thomas Carnival and a kayak pond will be set up for kids of all ages to enjoy.

Wheel Jam also features live musical entertainment. On Friday, the Weston Frank Band and Jerry Scheckle and the Midnight Ramblers will be playing on the 18 Wheel Stage at the Wheel Jam Truck Show. Also taking place on Friday is the Big Jim Jam Fest featuring the Black Water Band and Shades of Air. ZZ3 and Dustin Evans and the Good Times Band will perform Saturday night on the Freedom Stage. Leland Harding III will play on Sunday morning as cars and motorcycles register.

Camping is available at Wheel Jam and is $25 per night. For more event details and a full schedule of events, check outwww.wheeljam.com.

CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL – MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND OPEN HOUSE

Crazy Horse, SD – Crazy Horse Memorial will host their annual Memorial Day Weekend Open House. The public is invited to Crazy Horse Memorial May 25th through the 28th. Visitors will enjoy waived admission with the donation of 3 cans of food per person for the KOTA Care and Share Food Drive. Crazy Horse Memorial offers three museums, a historic video, Korczak’s Studio-Home and Workshop, sculptures, artwork and antiques.
Memorial Day Weekend kicks off the summer festivities at the Memorial. New displays have been created in THE INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA® and NATIVE AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL & CULTURAL CENTER®. featuring hands on displays.

Visitors to the Crazy Horse Memorial facilities will also enjoy Native American Dance performances during the day, every day through September 30, 2018. Guests can visit with the artists working on and selling their works. A visitor favorite, the nightly Laser Light Show starts this weekend, May 25th at dark (weather permitting). See the Mountain drenched in spectacular laser lights with wonderful narration and animation.

About Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation’s mission is to honor, protect, and preserve the culture, traditions, and living heritage of the Indians of North America. The Memorial fulfills its mission by continuing the progress on the world’s largest mountain sculpture, acting as a repository for Native American artifacts, arts and crafts through the INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA® and the NATIVE AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL & CULTURAL CENTER®; by establishing and operating the INDIAN UNIVERSITY OF NORTH AMERICA®, and when practical, a medical training center for American Indians.

CAMPFIRE PERMITS REQUIRED ON PRIVATE LAND

RAPID CITY S.D. — South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Wildland Fire Division is reminding the public that a campfire on private land within the Black Hills Forest Fire Protection District requires a permit. To obtain a permanent residential campfire permit, please contact South Dakota Wildland Fire Division at 605-393-8011. Specify what county you are requesting the permit for and you will be directed to the respective field office.

A free inspection of the requested campfire and area will be performed before a homeowner is issued a permit. All permits are valid for three years and kept on file. After three years, the permitted area will automatically be re-inspected. The landowner does not need to contact South Dakota Wildland Fire to schedule a renewal inspection.

The location of the campfire must be at least 10 feet from any overhanging branches, stumps, logs and trees.

Non-combustible materials fastened or mortared together, and in good condition, are required for the construction of the campfire. The campfire must be located on the campfire pad and will be immobile. Steel campfires must be staked down or otherwise fastened to the pad.

Visit the South Dakota Division Wildland Fire website at http://wildlandfire.sd.gov/camppermits/campfirepermits.aspx to find out if you’re in the Black Hills Forest Fire Protection District, required specifications and more information.

Follow South Dakota Wildland Fire on Twitter @SDWildlandFire and on Facebook by searching SD Wildland Fire.

Angostura Recreation Area to Hold Summer Day Camps

There are three day camps scheduled at Angostura Recreation Area this summer.  The Kid’s Fishing Day Camp is on Wednesday, June 13, Track Detectives is on Wednesday, July 11, and Nature Explorers Day Camp is on Wednesday, August 8.

For the Kid’s Fishing Day, participants will learn how to tie a fishing knot, bait a hook, take part in a casting contest, learn some tricks for cleaning the catch, make fish prints to take home and have plenty of time to fish!

In the Track Detectives Day Camp kids will discover the many animals of South Dakota, specifically the Angostura area and how to identify common animal tracks, go on a hike and make an animal track to take home.

The Nature Explorers Day Camp is for kids that enjoy catching insects, discovering tracks, smelling flowers, identifying animal droppings, looking at birds through binoculars, and just being outside!  Participants will learn how to do the “lizard lunge,” and discover the reptiles and other animals that make Angostura home.

All day camps are designed and limited to 7-12 year olds and meet at Shelter House #2 at Angostura Recreation Area from 9:30 am – Noon.  All participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes that can get wet, bring a water bottle, a snack and sunscreen.  There is not a charge for the camps; however pre-registration is required for all camps by calling 605-745-6996.  Each camp is limited to 30 kids.  Parents are welcome to attend all camps, but not required.  Transportation can be arranged ahead of time from Hot Springs to Angostura Recreation Area by calling 605-745-6996.

Custer State Park Offers National Trails Day Hikes

 

CUSTER STATE PARK, S.D. – Custer State Park will offer three guided hikes on Saturday, June 2 in recognition of National Trails Day.  The hikes will take place in Custer State Park at various locations and times.

The Prairie Trail Hike will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center.  Participants will then travel to the Prairie Trail trailhead off the Wildlife Loop Road.  The Prairie Trail Hike is approximately three miles long and is considered a moderate hike.

The Little Devil’s Tower Hike will begin at 1:00 p.m. at the Sylvan Lake General Store Veranda.  This hike is approximately three miles long and is considered strenuous due to the steep incline and bouldering required to traverse to the peak.

The Badger Hole Historic Trail Hike will begin at 4:00 p.m. at the Badger Hole Historic Site.  This hike is approximately one mile in length and is considered an easy hike.  Participants in this hike are encouraged to come early to tour the Badger Hole Historic Site prior to the start of the hike.

There is no cost for the hikes; however, a park entrance license is required. Reservations are not required.  For more information please call 605-255-4464

Tourism to Mount Rushmore Adds 177 Million to Local Economy

Keystone, South Dakota In celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week Mount Rushmore National Memorial reveals data from a new National Park Service report which shows that over 2.4 million visitors to Mount Rushmore in 2017 spent an estimated $139 million in local communities.  Spending that supported 2,140 jobs in the area and had a cumulative benefit of $177 million to the local economy.

“Doane Robinson to Gutzon Borglum to today Mount Rushmore National Memorial has long served as an active member in the tourism economy of our local communities,” stated Superintendent Cheryl Schreier.  “National Park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service.  We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service.  The report shows $18.2 billion of direct spending by more than 330 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park.  This spending supported 306,000 jobs nationally; 255,900 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities.  The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $35.8 billion.

The lodging sector received the highest direct contributions with $5.5 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 49,000 jobs.  The restaurants sector received the next greatest direct contributions with $3.7 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 60,500 jobs.

According to the 2017 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging/camping (32.9 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.5 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (10.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.0 percent), and local transportation (7.5 percent).

Report authors also produced an interactive tool that enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies.  Users can also view year-by-year trend data.  The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/s ocialscience/vse.htm.  To learn more about national parks in South Dakota and how the National Park Service works with South Dakota communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go tohttps://www.nps.gov/state/sd.

For additional park information, please visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial’s official website at www.nps.gov/moru.

#FridaysOnTheFarm: USDA LOAN HELPS COUPLE TOAST NEW WINERY

 

 

From the kitchen table to the boardroom table, the USDA brings people together across the nation for: healthier
food, natural resources and people; a stronger agricultural industry; and economic growth, jobs and innovation.
Each Friday, meet those farmers, producers and landowners through our #FridaysOnTheFarm stories. Visit local
farms, ranches, forests and resource areas where USDA customers and partners do right and feed everyone.

This Friday, meet Hillary and Diane Dean, boutique wine operators in Caddo, Oklahoma, who are passionate
about wine making. The Deans own and operate Blue River Valley Winery, growing several grape varieties and
producing over 15 varieties of wine.

From Hobby to Business
“It all started with homemade peach wine. A family member had us try their homemade wine, and we couldn’t
believe the quality. We wanted to try our hand at it,” said Diane. “We started off in the kitchen. Our table space
was taken up by small fermenters.”

After making craft beer for nearly 20 years, Hillary and Diane fell in love with making fine wine. Their hobby
quickly became a business, selling more than 15,000 bottles of their handcrafted wine in 2016 and over 19,000 in
2017.“Making wine became a passion. Over the years, we were encouraged to do it commercially,” said Hillary. “It
grew so fast, we couldn’t believe it. We thought it would just be a small mom and pop business, but it just
exploded.”

Growing a Dream
Before opening their boutique winery, they visited the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center where they
learned about the USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) loan opportunities. The Deans visited the Bryan County
FSA office and met with Greg Mathis, farm loan manager, to explore their options.
“We had a dream and it just didn’t seem like it was going to work out. We came to Greg and everything worked
out,” said Hillary. “He was interested in our venture. Greg believed in us and worked very hard to put together our
loan.”

FSA’s farm loan programs offer opportunities, such as microloans, to farmers and ranchers by providing access to
credit. Microloans focus on financing the needs of new, niche and small to mid-sized family farm operations.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Producing an Oklahoma Wine
The Deans currently grow muscadine grapes and other grape varieties, but they don’t produce enough to supply
their entire wine operation. According to Hillary, 100 pounds of grapes will only make about five gallons of wine.
To keep up with demand, they purchase juice from several vineyards across the country through a wholesaler.
“Our grapes might be grown all over the United States, but our wine is all Oklahoma,” Hillary said. “We ferment
the juice and then it goes through the clarification process. When that is done, we fill the bottle and cork it by
hand. It’s truly a handcraft.”

They currently offer 15 varieties of wine at Blue River Valley Winery, including “Blue River Bliss,” a blackberry
merlot, “Strawberry Blonde,” a strawberry white zinfandel, and “Rio Rosa,” their blackberry and lemon signature
wine. The number of varieties will continue to increase as they keep exploring new flavors.

Agritourism Is an Added Benefit
Since opening, the winery has drawn customers from all over the United States. To increase agritourism, the
Deans recently added a covered outdoor pavilion, where guests can enjoy live music on select evenings, hold
small weddings and other events.

“There are thousands of varieties of wine that you can make. We get a kick out of making our wine the highest
quality that we can,” said Hillary. “This doesn’t feel like a job. It’s something we really enjoy.”
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Follow the #Fridaysonthefarm story series and other news you can use on farmers.gov and @Farmersgov Twitter.
View all #FridaysOnTheFarm feature stories.
Story Credit: Lauren Moore
Photo Credits: Blue River Valley Winery; Lance Cheung (USDA), Scott Bauer (USDA)