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Oglala Sioux Tribe Celebrates Homeownership Month

John Yellow Bird Steele, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) signed a proclamation declaring June 2011 National Homeownership Month.  The signing event took place in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, earlier this month with Partnership for Housing and USDA Rural Development on site for the ceremony.

“USDA Rural Development is actively engaged with assisting the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in increasing homeownership opportunities in coordination with our public, private, and non-profit partners,” said Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks.  “Homeownership often leads to economic improvements, a better sense of pride in yourself and of the community.”

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FSA Employee Joyce Bowie Recognized for Maximizing Opportunities for Small Businesses

Farm Service Agency (FSA) acting Administrator Bruce Nelson praised Director of Contracting Activity Designee Joyce Bowie recently for her career work that earned her the distinguished USDA Champion Award at the Small Business and AbilityOne Award ceremony held at USDA.  A member of the FSA Acquisition Management Division, Bowie was honored for effectively educating her internal customers about small business contractors and promoting the use of their services.

Each year, USDA agencies nominate and award small, small disadvantaged, women-owned, HUBZone, service disabled veteran-owned and AbilityOne businesses for their exemplary contract performance.  This year marked USDA 18th year in recognizing USDA employees and businesses.  In addition to honoring small businesses, USDA employees were also acknowledged and awarded for their accomplishments in fostering the use of such businesses as federal contractors, which provide maximum opportunities for small businesses to participate in USDA contracting activities. Read more »

Pushing Brush to Create Quail Habitat

Tommy Berend, ranch operator at the 9,000-acre Circle A Ranch in Archer County, Texas, wanted to eliminate mesquite, restore open spaces and plant native grasses on the ranch.

The mesquite consumed large amounts of water in areas where Berend wanted to create habitat for quail and other wildlife. Quail is an important, yet dwindling species in Texas. Read more »

USDA’s Biotechnology Deregulation Process

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) works diligently to ensure that genetically engineered (GE) organisms such as Pioneer’s hybrid corn seed is just as safe for agriculture and the environment as traditionally bred crop varieties.

Our biotechnology deregulation process is a complex method of evaluation that we take very seriously. Our involvement begins when an organization wishes to import, move interstate, or field-test a GE plant, which is done under our permitting and notification system. Read more »

Deputy Secretary Merrigan Announces Availability of Funds to Create New Business Opportunities for Agricultural Producers

One of the most satisfying aspects of my job has been to hear the various ways USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grant program is making a positive difference in our rural economy. I’m pleased to announce new funding efforts by the Obama Administration to create jobs and foster new business opportunities in rural America.

Rural Americans take pride in and depend on the farmers, ranchers, and locally-owned businesses that provide fresh foods for their communities.  Despite the important role of these rural businesses and cooperatives, it can be difficult for them to begin marketing or distributing their products without financial support. Read more »

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Announces New Director-General

27 June 2011, Rome - FAO's Director-General elect José Graziano Da Silva. A Dialogue on Women in Agriculture: Where to after SOFA? Side event sponsored by the Rome Women's Network co-hosted by the United States and Kenya. FAO Conference, 37th Session. FAO headquarters (Austria Room). Co-Hosted by Ambassador of the United States of America to the UN Agencies in Rome Ertharin Cousin Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya to Italy and Permanent Representative to FAO, IFAD, and WFP Josephine Wangari Gaita. Presentations by: Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues for the United States of America; Dr. Agnes Kalibata Minister of Agriculture of Rwanda; Ann Tutwiler Deputy Director General for Knowledge of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Copyright ©FAO. Editorial use only. Photo credit must be given: ©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti

FAO's Director-General elect José Graziano Da Silva. A Dialogue on Women in Agriculture: Where to after SOFA? Side event sponsored by the Rome Women's Network co-hosted by the United States and Kenya. FAO Conference, 37th Session. FAO headquarters (Austria Room). Co-Hosted by Ambassador of the United States of America to the UN Agencies in Rome Ertharin Cousin Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya to Italy and Permanent Representative to FAO, IFAD, and WFP Josephine Wangari Gaita. Copyright ©FAO. Editorial use only. Photo credit: ©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti

This week, I joined my colleagues from all over the world for the 37th Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome. This bi-annual conference brings together world leaders in food and agriculture to discuss important issues related to agriculture, forestry, and global food security. This year’s conference is of particular significance as delegates elected a new Director-General, Jose Graziano da Silva of Brazil, to replace Jacques Diouf of Senegal, who has served in the position since 1993. The United States thanks Dr. Diouf for his hard work and dedication during his time as the Director General.  We are confident that Dr. Graziano da Silva will continue the ongoing reform effort to ensure that FAO is a strong, vibrant organization capable of tackling the challenges before us. Read more »