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Ag Census Demonstrates Value of Agriculture, Data Critical for Programs and Policies

Today, farmers and ranchers have less than three weeks to return their Census of Agriculture – and at USDA, we hope that everyone who can get their response back to us as soon as possible.

Currently underway by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the Census collects detailed data covering nearly every facet of U.S. agriculture. It’s the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation, and this year’s Census will provide USDA current information as we work to support American agriculture and build up the rural economy.

Accurate statistical data regarding our rural areas is important as we work hard at USDA to design effective programs and deliver quality service, even as we work to streamline operations and reduce our budget footprint. Read more »

Timber Thief in Washington Cuts Down 300-Year-Old Tree

Jeff Penman, an area measurement specialist from the US Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Regional office, stands atop the stump of an old-growth tree felled illegally in Olympic National Forest. The tree was estimated to be at least 300 years old. Photo/U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington.

Jeff Penman, an area measurement specialist from the US Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Regional office, stands atop the stump of an old-growth tree felled illegally in Olympic National Forest. The tree was estimated to be at least 300 years old. Photo/U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington.

Thanks to a lengthy investigation led by U.S. Forest Service law enforcement personnel, a Washington man has been convicted of stealing timber and damaging trees worth more than $250,000 from the Olympic National Forest in Washington state. Read more »

On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation: The People’s Plan for Regional Sustainability

Federal partners working with Thunder Valley CDC:  Left to right: Guadalupe M. Herrera,HUD Region VIII Sustainability Officer; Scott Moore, Thunder Valley CDC Project Coordinator & Architect; Nick Tilsen,Thunder Valley CDC Executive Director; Shelley Poticha, Director of the HUD Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, and Christine Sorensen-South Dakota USDA Rural Development staff.

Federal partners working with Thunder Valley CDC: Left to right: Guadalupe M. Herrera,HUD Region VIII Sustainability Officer; Scott Moore, Thunder Valley CDC Project Coordinator & Architect; Nick Tilsen,Thunder Valley CDC Executive Director; Shelley Poticha, Director of the HUD Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, and Christine Sorensen-South Dakota USDA Rural Development staff.

South Dakota USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks joined the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation (CDC), and other consortium members recently on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of southwestern South Dakota to discuss next steps for the Oyate Omniciye | Oglala Lakota Plan.   The regional planning process and the collaboration of a broad cross-section of regional stakeholders have created a regional plan for sustainable development and acts as a tool to begin implementation.  One of the 12 initiatives identified in the Plan includes the creation of a Regional Planning Office.  State Director Meeks attended the recent consortium meeting regarding the Regional Planning Office, stating “The planning team assembled by Thunder Valley CDC and diverse membership of the consortium have created a framework for sustainability; a regional plan that will allow for a coordination of resources and support.” Read more »

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 »