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Energy Advisor Says a Host of Factors Affect Food Prices

Rob Green’s recent Wall Street Journal op-ed “The cause of higher grocery bills isn’t the drought. It’s the failed federal ethanol policy” fails to take into consideration a host of factors, other than demand for corn, that affect food prices.

In the domestic and global markets commodity, labor, transportation, energy costs, processing, and marketing costs all contribute to what we pay for food in our local grocery store or restaurant. In some cases, factors such as higher oil prices affect one or more of these underlying costs producing higher domestic and world food prices. Read more »

Native American Heritage Month is an Opportunity for Learning and Sharing

Earlier this month, I submitted a blog discussing plans to observe Native American Heritage Month in South Dakota. USDA Rural Development South Dakota staff held a Native American interactive day on November 28, which included traditional teachings, significance of the circle, meal, a game of “all my relations” and Native Pictionary.  Today marks the final day of Native American Heritage Month, 2012.

Native American Heritage month is an opportunity for learning and sharing of Native American culture.  USDA staff were educated on the symbolism of the circle and its relevance to the Native American people with Rural Housing Specialist Ken Lynch reading a quote from Black Elk Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux; USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks provided comments in support of this event and traditional foods included smoked white fish, salmon, herring, and fish spread.  The hand smoking with native hardwoods brings out the delicate flavor of these fish.  Chicken, a wild rice dish, and squash was provided by Rural Housing Technician Hetti Cekalla and her husband Leroy.  Also served were Indian fried bread, vegetables, dessert and drinks. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: The Millions of Jobs Supported by Rural America

Every day I am reminded of the many ways in which the work of rural America impacts all of us. Rural America provides us with a clean environment, opportunities to get outdoors, greater energy security, and a safe and abundant food supply that’s the envy of the world. From our smallest towns to our biggest cities, work ongoing today in rural America has a tremendously positive effect for the United States.

Perhaps most important, rural America is driving job growth across our nation.

Last year, the agriculture sector and its related industries directly provided more than 16 million American jobs, the highest number since 2008. Many of these jobs are in rural America – while other agriculture-related jobs, from food manufacturing to textile work, are supporting millions of families in our cities. Read more »

A Word about the Importance of Work/Life from Deputy Secretary Merrigan

Last month, Hurricane Sandy prevented Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan from addressing USDA employees and guests at the Open House planned for National Work & Family Month.  However, she wanted to be sure to take the time to emphasize the importance of USDA’s Work/Life & Wellness programs and what they mean for employees, supervisors and managers at the Department. Read more »

Pueblo of Acoma Tribal Youth Connect to the Land Through Science

Pueblo of Acomo students measure and record plant heights and crown diameters.

Pueblo of Acoma students measure and record plant heights and crown diameters.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research profile.

Known for its vibrant culture, distinctive art, and customary traditions rooted in Native American pottery and connection to the land, historians consider the Pueblo of Acoma to be one of the oldest and continuously inhabited communities in North America dating back to 1150 A.D.  Determined to foster that connection to the land with today’s generation, USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station Albuquerque lab scientists partnered with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services Los Lunas Plant Materials Center to host a minority outreach natural resources science day camp for the Pueblo of Acoma tribal youth. Read more »