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USDA Commends Today’s Environmental Protection Agency Action allowing E15 to be Used by Model Year 2001 and Newer Passenger Vehicles

At USDA we applaud today’s action by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that essentially completes the federal actions necessary to allow consumers to buy fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol (E15).  This announcement gets us one step closer to giving American consumers a real choice at the pump.  It also supports the “all –of-the-above” energy strategy, including production of renewable biofuels, implemented by the Obama Administration to help wean us off of imported oil.

The public has a right to choose between spending their money on imported oil or home-grown energy.   Today’s action by EPA helps break down the ethanol “blend wall” thereby potentially allowing more ethanol into the market.   Iowa State University has estimated that blending ethanol with petroleum keeps the price per gallon at the pump down by around a dollar a gallon.  This is a demonstration of the Obama Administration making good on its commitments to work to reduce foreign oil imports and increase domestic energy production. Read more »

Game On! USDA Launches Feds Feed Families 2012

On Monday I accepted the challenge for USDA to donate more than 1.8 million pounds of food this summer through the 4th annual Feds Feed Families Food Drive (FFF).  Game on!

If each USDA employee donates just two pounds of food per week, we will contribute more than 2 million pounds and help our hardworking neighbors put food on the table during these tough economic times.  FFF began four years ago to help fill a gap during the summer months, when food banks and pantries struggle with an increase in demand from families and individuals, but a decrease in donations.  Each year of the food drive, USDA employees have stepped up to the plate: in 2011, USDA employees organized over 2,000 food drives across the country and collected 1.79 million pounds of fresh and shelf-stable food.

Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Strengthening the Rural Economy

This has been an important week for the White House Rural Council – a partnership between multiple Federal agencies, created by President Obama last year to focus and coordinate our efforts to create jobs in rural America and support American agriculture.

We marked the one-year anniversary of the Council on June 11; and on the same day, the Rural Council released a report alongside the White House Council of Economic Advisors and USDA that notes significant progress in our efforts to grow the rural economy.  But President Obama and I also know that there’s more to be done. Read more »

USDA helps a Community Health Center Improve Services in an Underserved Part of Rural Arizona

Dr. Randy Hancock, Director and CEO of the Black Canyon Community Health Center, Inc. (BCCHC) has spent the last ten years working in a cramped building in the small desert town of Black Canyon City, Arizona. His office has three desks crammed in—his, one for the other doctor and one for their Nurse Practitioner.

BCCHC is the only clinic around for miles and it works overtime to meet the basic health needs of the working class rural residents that make up the community. With an average household income nearly $20,000 below the rest of the state, most of the clinic’s clients are retired and on fixed income. “Some of our patients have to walk to the clinic,” said Dr. Hancock. “It’s really difficult if they need specialty tests or radiology and have to try to get to Phoenix.” Read more »

Oregon, Colorado Trail Projects Honored by Coalition for Recreation Trails

Members of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps lift heavy boulders as part of a project to turn user-created trails on Mount Yale in Colorado into properly maintained trails that do not hurt the environment. (U.S. Forest Service Photo)

Members of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps lift heavy boulders as part of a project to turn user-created trails on Mount Yale in Colorado into properly maintained trails that do not hurt the environment. (U.S. Forest Service Photo)

The Deschutes National Forest in Oregon and the Pike-San Isabel National Forests in Colorado were recently honored by the Coalition for Recreation Trails with the organization’s Achievement Award for trail projects that exemplify creative partnerships and leveraging funds. Read more »