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With USDA Support, a Midwest Cooking Oil Producer Sees a Sunny Future

Colleen Landkamer, USDA Rural Development Minnesota State Director; Tom Smude; Jenni Smude; Carol Anderson, Community Development of Morrison County.

Colleen Landkamer, USDA Rural Development Minnesota State Director; Tom Smude; Jenni Smude; Carol Anderson, Community Development of Morrison County.

On a farm in small-town Pierz, Minnesota, Tom and Jenni Smude are breaking new ground in the cooking oil business. Tom and Jenni started Smude’s Natural Sunflower Oil in February of 2010 and have enjoyed the ride ever since. What began as an idea to grow a drought-tolerant crop transformed into a rural small-business success story with the potential to become something even bigger. Read more »

FSA: A Blueprint for a More Modern Farm Service Agency

A blueprint guides the decisions of an entire team of craftspeople toward a common goal of creating something that serves a purpose and withstands time and the elements. Over several decades now, U.S. agriculture has become the second most-productive sector of our economy. Today, net farm income is at record levels while farm debt has been cut in half. Overall, American agriculture supports 1 in 12 jobs in the United States and provides American consumers with 83 percent of the food we consume. In other words, U.S. agriculture is both resilient and a productive economic driver.

While America’s farmers, ranchers and growers are the primary architects of U.S. agriculture’s success, there is large team in place that helps to drive the success of our agriculture industry, and USDA’s Farm Service Agency is a proud member of that team. And FSA’s guide in building a more modern, efficient service organization that is closely in tune with the long-term vitality of rural America is the Blueprint for Stronger Service. Read more »

Agricultural Science: More Than You Think

As we reflect in celebration of USDA’s 150th anniversary, it’s easy to take pride in the problem-solving abilities of agricultural scientists since 1862.

The challenges in America have been great, including the Dust Bowl, wars, human health threats, and attacks on crops and animals from pests. Researchers have met these challenges and will continue to do so, while enabling growers to produce abundant food that is safe to eat. Read more »

USDA 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum’s Twenty-Five Breakout Sessions Begin February 23

Following a morning plenary session featuring eight former Secretaries of Agriculture and Secretary Vilsack’s keynote speech, the USDA’s annual Outlook Forum will begin the programs breakout sessions featuring more than 80 speakers.  The sessions will focus on a broad range of topical issues related to agriculture and global food security; foreign trade, financial markets, and economic development; conservation; energy; climate change; food safety; food hubs; extension programs; and next generation farmers. Read more »

USDA Hosts Kids’ Day Event for Washington, DC-Area Families to Kick-Off National Invasive Species Awareness Week

From a very humble start, National Invasive Species Awareness Week’s Kids’ Day has bloomed into an event featuring an invasive species magician, a 13-year old ‘invasive species hunter’ from Texas, and even Woodsy Owl from the Forest Service.

The event, sponsored by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, will take place on February 26 at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.—a perfect setting to educate kids about the importance of protecting our forests, agriculture and the environment from harmful invasive species. Read more »

Twenty-four Students Take Part in USDA’s 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program

Twenty-four university students will attend USDA’s 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum Feb. 23-24.  The students are the recipients of corporate and USDA sponsorship aimed at promoting the education of the next generation of agriculturalists.  The Forum titled, “Moving Agriculture Forward,” is USDA’s largest annual event and will be held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.  “USDA welcomes the next generation to participate in the Forum so they might see opportunities to excel to even greater heights in their careers,” said Secretary Vilsack.

This year, sponsoring corporations and USDA agencies include: CHS, Inc.; Farm Credit; USDA’s Economic Research Service, Agricultural Research Service, and Natural Resources Conservation Service. Read more »