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Innovating Our Way to a Stronger America

Last night I had the privilege of attending President Obama’s State of the Union speech.  In it, he laid out some of the challenges America faces moving forward as we compete with nations across the globe to win the future.

The President’s vision is simple.  We need to be a nation that makes, creates and innovates so that we can expand the middle class and ensure that we pass along to our children the types of freedoms, opportunities and experiences that we have enjoyed. Read more »

USDA Partners to Construct Straw Homes that are Built to Last

The finished home with a photo of the trailer it replaced (foreground)

The finished home with a photo of the trailer it replaced (foreground)

The organization “Community Rebuilds” along with USDA Rural Development recently welcomed Sascha Pastler and Colleen Jarrett into their newly completed straw bale home.  A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at their front door.   The large crowd attending was soon invited inside to see the first USDA funded straw bale home in Utah. Read more »

USDA Accomplishments in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Cross posted from the White House blog:

At President Obama’s direction, the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working hard to unleash the power of America’s innovators and entrepreneurs to build a green energy economy.   By producing renewable energy – especially biofuels – America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities have incredible potential to help ensure our nation’s energy security, environmental security, and economic security.  Here are just some of the ways USDA is involved in helping create green energy jobs for the 21st century: Read more »

Ohio USDA Office Hosts an Alternative Aviation Fuels Forum

Air carriers, farmers, fuel refiners and government leaders met in Columbus, Ohio,  recently to explore the future of aviation fuels made from farm-grown energy crops. Hosted by USDA’s Ohio Rural Development office and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, representatives of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) and the Air Transport Association briefed Ohio stakeholder groups and state and federal officials on efforts underway in the airline industry to create a clean, reliable and cost-competitive supply of renewable jet biofuels to bring stability to petroleum-based aviation fuel market. Read more »

China Garden to be Established at National Arboretum

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (left)  and Ambassador Zhang Yesui, People’s Republic of China sign a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a National China Garden at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., Monday, January 24, 2011.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (left) and Ambassador Zhang Yesui, People’s Republic of China sign a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a National China Garden at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., Monday, January 24, 2011.

Today, I joined China’s Ambassador to the United States Zhang Yesui to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to construct a classical Chinese garden at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. This garden will illustrate the commitment our two countries have to horticulture, science and the arts and will serve as a testament to our countries’ celebrated cultural histories, delighting visitors for generations to come. I was pleased to join Ambassador Zhang and Madame Jiang Zehui to help turn this symbol of bilateral friendship into a reality. Madame Jiang Zehui is the executive director for the Chinese side for the China Garden. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack Builds Stronger Relationship with National FFA, Urges National Officer Team to Get Involved in the Farm Bill Process

As dozens of representatives from businesses and organizations that support the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) listened yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spent about 15 minutes in a Washington meeting room speaking directly to six college-age individuals.  The six, from across the country, are this year’s National FFA Officer Team.

The Secretary attended yesterday’s winter meeting of the FFA Sponsor Board to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) deepening USDA’s involvement with the FFA and its education mission. But before sitting down for the signing ceremony, the Secretary talked to the officers about their role in creating economic opportunity in rural America. Read more »