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You’re Invited! “Match Making” in the Biofuels Value Chain at USDA

On March 30th, the Department of Agriculture, is hosting a “match making day” at USDA, to promote connections between agricultural producers of energy feedstocks (and their related businesses) with biorefiners seeking to produce biofuels for commercial sale and consumption. Officials from the U.S. Department of Navy, U.S. Department of Energy, and the Federal Aviation Administration will attend, make presentations and answer questions.

As we move forward as a nation, identifying and implementing an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, there are key relationships that will determine our success in the effort to develop and deploy aviation biofuels.  The objectives of this match making session will be to improve awareness and increase understanding of the biofuels supply-chain links between those involved in feedstock production and the processors of that feedstock into biofuels.  This includes logistical challenges, potential roles of service providers, and potential pitfalls. Read more »

NRCS Participates in Organic Farming Conference

If you are interested in organic farms and food, La Crosse, Wisconsin is the place to be in late February—when the largest organic farming conference in the U.S. takes place there.

Jean Stramel, Grazing Lands Specialist in Richland Center, discusses what assistance is available from NRCS for interested graziers.

Jean Stramel, Grazing Lands Specialist in Richland Center, discusses what assistance is available from NRCS for interested graziers.

This year’s Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) organic farming conference ran from Feb. 23 through Feb. 25 and was attended by over 3,300 people from 39 states. Over 150 exhibitors were there to provide information related to organic farming. Read more »

U.S. Forest Service Women: Opportunities are Endless

When the U.S. Forest Service was established in 1905, the common belief was that only men were physically and mentally capable of working outdoors for the agency. In the early 20th century, women were limited primarily to roles as administrative clerks. But in 1913, Hallie M. Daggett was hired as the first woman employee to be assigned to field work. She worked as a lookout at Klamath Peak on the Klamath National Forest in Yreka, Calif. – for 14 years.

Today, women comprise 38 percent of all of the Forest Service’s more than 30,000 employees. Women hold positions in all aspects within the agency, including forester positions, scientists and senior leadership roles.

“We take a lot of our opportunities today for granted as if they have always been that way,” said Angela Coleman, Associate Deputy Chief of Forest Service Research and Development. “We don’t stop long enough to thank those pioneers, women and men, who helped break down barriers that allow the Forest Service to be more inclusive. We are stronger today because of the strength of our diversity.” Read more »

The Best Food Distribution Models for Small and Mid-Sized Farmers

Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco.  Wholesale buyers like Bi-Rite see value in marketing local products.  Our study found that marketing to regional preferences helps farmers get a better price for their products.

Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco. Wholesale buyers like Bi-Rite see value in marketing local products. Our study found that marketing to regional preferences helps farmers get a better price for their products.

Small and mid-size farmers are the backbone of farmers markets, but they often face particular obstacles when trying to sell products in markets like grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, and schools.  Through the Transportation and Marketing program at USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), we explored this issue in our recent study, Moving Food Along the Value Chain: Innovations in Regional Food Distribution. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: US-Korea Trade Agreement Big Boost for Agriculture

Last week was monumental for American farmers. Under the new U.S.-Korea trade agreement, two-thirds of the tariffs imposed on U.S. food and agricultural products exported to South Korea are being eliminated. That includes wheat, corn, soybeans for crushing, whey for feed use, hides and skins, cotton, cherries, pistachios, almonds, orange juice, grape juice, and wine.

Over the next few years, as additional barriers fall and more U.S. businesses market products to Korea’s expanding economy, American agricultural exports should grow by $1.9 billion and help support nearly 16,000 jobs here at home. Read more »

USDA, Other Federal Agencies Join Together to Help an Iowa Community

Mention to folks that federal agencies work well together and you may receive reactions of disbelief.  Sometimes the federal employees, themselves, don’t believe it.  But there was a roomful of believers at a recent USDA Rural Roundtable held in Ogden, Iowa.

Iowa USDA Rural Development State Director Bill Menner (center, seated) and other federal officials, hold a roundtable meeting in Ogden, Iowa.

Iowa USDA Rural Development State Director Bill Menner (center, seated) and other federal officials, hold a roundtable meeting in Ogden, Iowa.

I held more than 40 roundtables across rural Iowa last year, modeled after the roundtables of the White House Business Council and the White House Rural Council.  These roundtables provided a great opportunity to talk with rural residents, business owners and leaders about the issues facing their communities – and the opportunities that exist. Read more »