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USDA Names Winners of 2011 Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program

Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the selection of 24 university students who will attend USDA’s 2011 Agricultural Outlook Forum February 24 and 25. The Forum titled, “Today’s Strategies & Tomorrow’s Opportunities,” is USDA’s largest annual event and will be held this year in Arlington, Virginia. The finalists include students from Land-Grant, Hispanic Serving Institutions, American Association of State Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable Resources institutions who are the recipients of corporate and USDA sponsorship aimed at promoting the education of the next generation of agriculturalists. Read more »

Innovating Our Way to a Stronger America

Last night I had the privilege of attending President Obama’s State of the Union speech.  In it, he laid out some of the challenges America faces moving forward as we compete with nations across the globe to win the future.

The President’s vision is simple.  We need to be a nation that makes, creates and innovates so that we can expand the middle class and ensure that we pass along to our children the types of freedoms, opportunities and experiences that we have enjoyed. Read more »

Know Your Supply Chain? New Research explains how local food gets from the farm to your table

The December 2010 issue of USDA's Amber Waves describes recent research on local food supply chains. Researchers sponsored by ERS studied several food supply chains around the country, looking at how the size, structure, and performance of local supply chains compare to mainstream supply chains.

Most people who are interested in local food know that farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) are great ways to buy products from local farms and vendors. But are there other ways that local food moves from producers to consumers? It turns out that a great variety of food supply chains are capable of delivering locally produced foods to consumers. Studying these supply chains offers an interesting peek into the future of local foods in the United States. Read more »

USDA Partners to Construct Straw Homes that are Built to Last

The finished home with a photo of the trailer it replaced (foreground)

The finished home with a photo of the trailer it replaced (foreground)

The organization “Community Rebuilds” along with USDA Rural Development recently welcomed Sascha Pastler and Colleen Jarrett into their newly completed straw bale home.  A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at their front door.   The large crowd attending was soon invited inside to see the first USDA funded straw bale home in Utah. Read more »

USDA Accomplishments in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Cross posted from the White House blog:

At President Obama’s direction, the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working hard to unleash the power of America’s innovators and entrepreneurs to build a green energy economy.   By producing renewable energy – especially biofuels – America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities have incredible potential to help ensure our nation’s energy security, environmental security, and economic security.  Here are just some of the ways USDA is involved in helping create green energy jobs for the 21st century: Read more »

Ohio USDA Office Hosts an Alternative Aviation Fuels Forum

Air carriers, farmers, fuel refiners and government leaders met in Columbus, Ohio,  recently to explore the future of aviation fuels made from farm-grown energy crops. Hosted by USDA’s Ohio Rural Development office and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, representatives of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) and the Air Transport Association briefed Ohio stakeholder groups and state and federal officials on efforts underway in the airline industry to create a clean, reliable and cost-competitive supply of renewable jet biofuels to bring stability to petroleum-based aviation fuel market. Read more »