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Cochran Fellow Influences Food Security in Mozambique

Mozambique Minister of Science and Technology Louis Pelembe (left) meets with National Soybean Research Laboratory  Director Craig Gundersen and his son, Van, during the World Soybean Research Conference earlier this year. Minister Pelembe participated in the Foreign Agricultural Service Cochran Fellowship Program and has used his training to help address critical food security and develop agricultural policy in Mozambique. (Courtesy photo)

Mozambique Minister of Science and Technology Louis Pelembe (left) meets with National Soybean Research Laboratory Director Craig Gundersen and his son, Van, during the World Soybean Research Conference earlier this year. Minister Pelembe participated in the Foreign Agricultural Service Cochran Fellowship Program and has used his training to help address critical food security and develop agricultural policy in Mozambique. (Courtesy photo)

Promoting food security and agricultural development around the world is a key part of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) mission. One way FAS does this is by providing educational opportunities to emerging leaders from developing countries through programs such as the Cochran Fellowship Program. Among the FAS-trained fellows who have gone on to great things is Mozambique’s Minister of Science and Technology Louis Pelembe.

Minister Pelembe was a Cochran fellow in 2003, learning about food processing techniques for soy and other commodities at Texas A&M University. He later continued his training at the University of Illinois National Soybean Research Laboratory and Kansas State University with the support of FAS’s Emerging Markets Program. Today, he’s helping address critical food security and developing agricultural policy in Mozambique. Read more »

Nevada Farmer Reinvents Herself with 10 Acres and a High Tunnel

Jaime Jasmine, NRCS district conservationist in Elko, Nev. (right), has worked closely with Carol Huether by providing hands on assistance. NRCS photo.

Jaime Jasmine, NRCS district conservationist in Elko, Nev. (right), has worked closely with Carol Huether by providing hands on assistance. NRCS photo.

Three years ago, Carol Huether, decided it was time to change careers and reinvent herself. So, she took her years of experience managing other people’s businesses and turned those skills into a successful organic vegetable and herb farm in Spring Creek, Nev.

As she transformed her 10 acres into a productive operation, Huether wasn’t working alone. USDA agencies, such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA), worked closely with Huether to create a sustainable operation, despite the region’s challenging climate.

“I wouldn’t have been able to even start this kind of operation if it hadn’t been for all the agencies coming together to help me under the umbrella of the USDA,” Huether says. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: A New Report that Highlights the Need for a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill

There are a wide range of important reasons why rural America needs passage of a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible. One of the most pressing is to grow the rural economy in a way that creates new jobs and reverses the troubling decline in population that we’ve seen recently in America’s small towns.

This week, USDA’s Economic Research Service released its annual report on the economic condition of rural America – the 2013 Rural America at a Glance report.   The data in this report underscores the challenges of stagnant job growth and persistent poverty faced by many communities across rural America. Read more »

Hooked on Aquaponics

This fish tank is located in Honolulu, HI at the President William McKinley High School, and illustrates the cleanliness of water in an aquaponics/aquaculture system.  For aquaponics, when the system is properly balanced, the water can be maintained at maximum clarity. Photo courtesy of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

This fish tank is located in Honolulu, HI at the President William McKinley High School, and illustrates the cleanliness of water in an aquaponics/aquaculture system. For aquaponics, when the system is properly balanced, the water can be maintained at maximum clarity. Photo courtesy of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

If you’re wondering what aquaponics is, you’re not alone.  Tracing its roots back to the Aztecs and rice cultivation in South China, aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics – growing fish and plants together in a symbiotic system.  Basically, the plants keep the water clean for the fish to grow, and the fish fertilize the plants. Both help the other to survive and thrive.

A wide variety of foods—lettuce, beans, broccoli, cucumbers, peas, herbs, strawberries, melons, and tomatoes, for example—all flourish through aquaponics farming. Read more »

Veterans Find Training, Jobs with the U.S. Forest Service

California Conservation Corps Veterans Green Jobs members receiving training and hands-on work experience in forestry and firefighting skills. (CCC photo)

California Conservation Corps Veterans Green Jobs members receiving training and hands-on work experience in forestry and firefighting skills. (CCC photo)

The U.S. Forest Service actively recruits eligible veterans for multiple occupations. Currently, veterans make up over 12 percent of the Forest Service workforce. The agency values the experience, commitment and work ethic that veterans bring to the job, as well as their significant skills and abilities.

Two programs are of particular importance to veterans who are seeking an opportunity to get their boot in the door and improve their chances of being hired by a land management agency.

In its third year, nationally, the Veterans Fire Corps program is operated as a partnership with the Student Conservation Association. It’s a collaborative initiative that builds upon the knowledge, leadership experience and training of men and women who served in the armed forces, retraining them and refocusing their mission to protecting public lands from the threat of wildfire. Read more »