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USDA Boosts Innovation as a Pathway to Jobs and a Rural Biobased Economy

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tours Renmatix's state-of-the-art bioindustrial facility at Renmatix headquarters in King of Prussia, PA on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, and to commission the company’s new multiple-feedstock processing BioFlex Conversion Unit. Photo property of Renmatix.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tours Renmatix's state-of-the-art bioindustrial facility at Renmatix headquarters in King of Prussia, PA on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, and to commission the company’s new multiple-feedstock processing BioFlex Conversion Unit. Photo property of Renmatix.

If you want proof that rural America is a land of limitless opportunity, go to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

Last week I accompanied Secretary Vilsack as he toured a state-of-the-art bioindustrial facility in Pennsylvania that converts multiple feedstocks into cellulosic sugars.  The plant, operated by Renmatix, will test and convert a range of non-food plant materials through a proprietary process.  The goal is to move forward in development of next-generation renewable energy and high value bio-based alternatives to petroleum-based products.  It is a goal that bears enormous promise for rural America, potentially creating many thousands of jobs, untold economic activity and new markets. Read more »

USDA Announces Speakers for 2013 Agricultural Outlook Forum – Feb. 21-22

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced speakers for the 2013 Agricultural Outlook Forum, “Managing Risk in the 21st Century,” Feb. 21-22 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel, Arlington, Va. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will present the keynote address, followed by guest speaker former Senator Thomas A. Daschle, currently a senior policy advisor with DLA Piper. USDA Chief Economist Joseph Glauber will present the 2013 U.S. Economic Outlook for Agriculture. In addition, a distinguished panel of speakers for the Feb. 21 plenary session includes: Bryan T. Durkin, Chief Operating Officer, CME Group; David Baudler, President of Cargill AgHorizons; and Scott H. Irwin, Laurence J. Norton Chair of Agricultural Marketing, University of Illinois. Mike Adams, AgriTalk Radio host, will moderate the panel.

The Forum’s dinner speaker on Feb. 21 will be Adam Sieminski, Administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), addressing the “U.S. Energy Market Outlook.” Read more »

USDA Rural Development Presents 2012 Wisconsin Valued Partner for Engineering Excellence

Brian Deaner, (left) USDA Rural Development Community Programs Director, presents Stan Charron with the 2012 Award of Excellence during Carron’s retirement gathering in Marshfield, Wis. Photo provided by Dorene Spindler, MSA Professional Services, Inc. – Used with permission.

Brian Deaner, (left) USDA Rural Development Community Programs Director, presents Stan Charron with the 2012 Award of Excellence during Carron’s retirement gathering in Marshfield, Wis. Photo provided by Dorene Spindler, MSA Professional Services, Inc. – Used with permission.

USDA Rural Development is committed to working with partners across the nation to assist in improving the quality of life and promote economic sustainability for our rural communities and residents. These valuable partnerships come in many forms, from partners who make financial investments to support business and infrastructure expansion and development to our partners who provide hands on services and expertise that help make these projects a reality.

In an effort to recognize these important partnerships, Rural Development Wisconsin State Director Stan Gruszynski, has named Stanley Charron as the recipient of the 2012 Wisconsin Valued Partner Award for Engineering Excellence. Read more »

USDA Rural Development Helps Make Holidays Merry for Pennsylvania Children

The Pennsylvania Rural Development staff and the toys that were donated to local children in need through the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Toy Drive.

The Pennsylvania Rural Development staff and the toys that were donated to local children in need through the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Toy Drive.

Rather than the traditional office name exchange this year, the Pennsylvania USDA Rural Development State Office staff added a new twist.  Each employee made a list of toys they enjoyed as children. The lists were exchanged and employees purchased toys for an eight year old version of their co-worker.  The wrapped toys were recently distributed at an office holiday gathering.

The staff enjoyed opening baby dolls, remote control helicopters, games and puzzles. As children, the staff may have had a difficult time handing over their new “toys” to strangers.  However, smiles were all around as over 30 unwrapped toys were picked up by two uniformed Marines to be delivered to their local distribution center. Read more »

Planting a Holiday Tradition

One of the many celebrations and traditions that people still practice is the burning of the yule log and singing yuletide carols. Photo courtesy of Penny Stritch.

One of the many celebrations and traditions that people still practice is the burning of the yule log and singing yuletide carols. Photo courtesy of Penny Stritch.

Many holiday traditions are celebrated during the season surrounding the winter solstice, or the time when the sun is at its lowest point above the horizon.

For communities and families, plants play a central role in these traditions. Yet, most people are unaware of the origins of how plants like holly and yule logs became part of holidays and traditions. Read more »

USDA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Enter into Agreement to Improve Drought Weather Forecasting

President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa, on Monday, August 13, 2012 to view the drought stricken crops. The federal government has already taken some steps to ease farmers whose crops are growing poorly this summer, and the administration plans to spend close to $200 million on livestock, officials announced earlier in the day. The Department of Defense is encouraging vendors to buy meat to ease the crisis. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.

President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa, on Monday, August 13, 2012 to view the drought stricken crops. The federal government has already taken some steps to ease farmers whose crops are growing poorly this summer, and the administration plans to spend close to $200 million on livestock, officials announced earlier in the day. The Department of Defense is encouraging vendors to buy meat to ease the crisis. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.

USDA and other federal agencies continue to work to address the long term effects of last summer’s historic drought.

In the wake of a series of regional drought conferences with farmers, ranchers, business owners and other stakeholders, USDA is entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Commerce, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to improve sharing of data and expertise, monitoring networks, and drought forecasting efforts.  The MOU is a direct outcome of the regional conferences. Read more »