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Resolving on a Healthier Future

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.

Chances are that among many of the Americans who made a New Year’s resolution, nutrition figures somewhere in their goal. They may be aiming to shed a few pounds, or opt for a healthier diet, or perhaps they’re going for the whole package of a healthier lifestyle encompassing both diet and exercise.

While it’s not exactly a New Year’s resolution, a group of federal agencies is making a fresh start this month with the Interagency Committee on Human Nutrition Research (ICHNR), co-chaired by Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, and Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. The committee was chartered in 1983 and will be reestablished in 2013. Read more »

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 »

Bugs Behaving Badly…USDA Scientists Plan To Stop Them with the Public’s Help

Mosquito on human skin.

Mosquito on human skin.

USDA is taking its battle against bad bugs “to the streets.”  USDA’s Agriculture Research Service (USDA-ARS) is seeking public input in fighting insect pests, many of whom may, in public opinion, top the lists as public nuisance number one—like bedbugs and mosquitoes. Read more »

Some Oregon Fireplaces Full this Winter Thanks to Partnership

A firewood gatherer stands proudly with his truck load of cut firewood from the Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon. More than 600 cords of wood were cut and cleared from the Barlow Ranger District in partnership with Wasco County, Oregon. (U.S. Forest Service Photo)

A firewood gatherer stands proudly with his truck load of cut firewood from the Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon. More than 600 cords of wood were cut and cleared from the Barlow Ranger District in partnership with Wasco County, Oregon. (U.S. Forest Service Photo)

Hundreds of people will be able to enjoy cozy fires this winter due to a partnership between Oregon’s Wasco County and the Mt. Hood National Forest, located east of Portland.

Over 600 cords of firewood were cut and cleared from the Barlow Ranger District on the forest during last year’s firewood gathering season. Read more »

South Dakota USDA Rural Development Honors Top Business & Industry Loan Guarantee Program Lenders

South Dakota USDA Rural Development honored four top banks for their collaborative work in utilizing the USDA Business & Industry (B & I) Loan Guarantee program.

Elsie Meeks, South Dakota Rural Development State Director said, “Working with private lenders throughout the state enables USDA Rural Development to increase investment capital, and help communities and local organizations build a strong business infrastructure to nurture economic growth.”   In Fiscal Year 2012, South Dakota USDA Rural Development B & I Guaranteed Loan program made available $33.2 million in the state, leveraging $128 million and assisting nine businesses.  This economic support created or retained an estimated 109 jobs in the state.

Great Western Bank  of Rapid City, First Interstate Bank of Sturgis, BankWest of Pierre and First Interstate Bank of Wall, South Dakota were recently highlighted as top lenders through the B & I program. 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 »