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Biomass and Biofuel – What’s in it for Hawaii’s Agriculture?

Hawaii and the Pacific Basin

The dwindling global supply of fossil fuels and the resulting escalation in prices has set the stage for entry of commercial biofuel produced from biomass, including co-products and bi-products.  This transition in the energy sector’s feed stocks offers Hawaii a unique opportunity to locally produce biofuel from locally produced biomass feed stocks, and ultimately support the stabilization of the state’s energy resources; increase the local circulation of energy dollars; and further under gird Hawaii’s agricultural industry.  Read more »

Meat and Poultry Hotline Expert Diane Van to Host Live Facebook Chat on Summer Food Safety—Just in Time for 4th of July Grilling!

By Diane Van, FSIS Meat and Poultry Hotline Manager 

Remember when you were a student and your teacher would say, “If you have a question, someone else in the class is wondering the same thing?” Well, after many years of working with the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Meat and Poultry Hotline, I can tell you that nearly every parent, cook, and party-planner—no matter how experienced—has questions about keeping the food that they serve safe for those who will eat it. Not surprisingly, the questions we receive at the Meat and Poultry Hotline are often repeats that we’ve heard many times before.

For this 4th of July weekend, I’m going to try a new approach to answering summer food safety questions. Thursday afternoon at 1:00, I’ll be hosting a real, live “Summer Food Safety Chat” on USDA’s Facebook page and USDA Live. To join the chat, all you have to do is log in to your own Facebook account, go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s page, and ask away.

Sure, I’m expecting the usual suspects: “How long can potato salad stay out before it’s unsafe to eat?” “How long can I leave fried chicken in the refrigerator?” “Do hot dogs need to be hot?”

I’ll gladly answer those, but I’m hoping some of you can come up with a few clever new ones.  Watch what others ask, and there’s a good chance you’ll learn something you didn’t know you were even wondering.  Ask something you thought should be common knowledge, and someone else will be glad you spoke up.

The chat will begin at 1:00 p.m. ET, on Thursday, July 1—just in time to get you started on your shopping, prepping, and grilling for the July 4 holiday weekend. In the meantime, you can find food safety tips tailored for the summer season on FSIS’ Twitter and YouTube accounts.  See you there!

USDA and DOJ hold Historic Workshop on Competitiveness in Dairy Sector, Hear from Nation’s Dairy Farmers

USDA Agriculture Secretary Vilsack kicked off the third in a series of five workshops on competition in agriculture today. Speaking to a packed house of more then 500 small and large dairy farmers, FFA members and members of the public at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Vilsack highlighted the struggles of those living in rural America and the need to explore the appropriate role for antitrust and regulatory enforcement in the dairy industry. Read more »

USDA Rural Development Funding Improves Ossian, Indiana Residents’ Lives

Written by Darrell J. Mowery, Indiana Public Information Coordinator

The United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development is improving the lives of the residents of the Indiana Town of Ossian by providing a USDA Rural Development Water and Environmental Program low interest loan in the amount of $3,290,000.  The funds will be used to replace distribution mains to provide a reliable municipal source of water, provide adequate fire flows and pressure, and eliminate the health issues and water boil advisories that have been required the last three years.

Phil Lehmkuhler, USDA Rural Development Indiana State Director stated, “USDA Rural Development is providing millions of dollars to rural communities to support the efforts of rural cities and towns to improve their water and wastewater disposal systems.  Congratulations to the residents of Ossian for making this important commitment to protect the environment and well being of your community.”

The  Town of Ossian’s water system has old cast-iron mains which have broken 140 times over the past two years.  This has resulted in three boiling water advisories to the public over the same time frame.  The distribution mains need to be replaced in several areas with new 8-inch water mains to provide a reliable municipal source of water to customers to meet the maximum day and emergency fire flow demand conditions.  The average water loss, pumped versus billed water, averaged over 25 percent for the last three years.


Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA’s web site at

 Ossian Water Project

Community officials from Ossian, Indiana join USDA officials to mark the start of a project to repair and replace water mains.

Homeownership Becomes a Reality For a North Carolina Family Thanks to USDA

By Randall Gore, North Carolina USDA Rural Development State Director

North Carolina’s Howard Lewis Family is excited to have their very own home!  Not only did their dream of homeownership come true but the home construction provided jobs for many workers in the area.   Kelley Woodley, Area Specialist for USDA Rural Development in Asheboro began the application process with the Lewis Family in January and six months later they were moving into their brand new home.  To view a news report about the family and the program click here:

The USDA Rural Development Direct Home Ownership Loan program assists with the purchase, construction, repair or rehabilitation of single family homes in rural areas.  For more information about how to apply click here.

USDA Rural Energy for America Program Funds Cut Energy Costs at a Maine Hotel

Written by C. Jeffrey Bergeron, Acting USDA Public Information OfficerUSDA Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager and Maine Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel visited a Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) project in Ogunquit, Maine while attending the 2010 National Association of Credit Specialists Annual Convention earlier this week.

The project was at the Meadowmere Hotel in Ogunquit, which with the aid of a USDA Rural Development REAP Grant of $49,625 was able to install a state-of-the-art commercial solar thermal hot water system to preheat a significant portion of the domestic hot water for the building.

The approximate 30 percent savings the Meadowmere Hotel will recoup in energy costs will allow the hotel to continue to sustain its business and 53 jobs.  “This project is a perfect example of how Rural Development is working to help keep the Maine economy on track” said Manuel, as she and Under Secretary Tonsager visited the hotel and viewed the solar thermal system.  Manuel said, “The solar thermal hot water system is a great source of clean renewable energy, and USDA Rural Development is dedicated to supporting the rural Maine economy by funding green projects like this one.”

Standing in front of the solar panels on the hotels roof are (Left to Right)  Allyson Cavaretta, Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager, Owner Phillip Cavaretta, and Maine State Director Virginia Manuel. The energy saving panels were funding in part with funds from USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program. Standing in front of the solar panels on the hotels roof are (Left to Right)  Allyson Cavaretta, Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager, Owner Phillip Cavaretta, and Maine State Director Virginia Manuel. The energy saving panels were funded in part with funds from USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program.