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Methuselah, a Bristlecone Pine is Thought to be the Oldest Living Organism on Earth

The Inyo National Forest is home to many bristlecone pines, thought to be the oldest living organisms on Earth.

The Inyo National Forest is home to many bristlecone pines, thought to be the oldest living organisms on Earth.

Bristlecone pines are a small group of trees that reach an age believed by many scientists to be far greater than that of any other living organism known to man — up to nearly 5,000 years. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack, EPA Administrator Jackson, Meet Conservationist Farmers in Iowa

Monty Collins (left) talks to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack about the environmental benefits of rotational grazing techniques used with his 30-head cow/calf operation near Pleasantville, IA, on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. USDA Photo.

Monty Collins (left) talks to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack about the environmental benefits of rotational grazing techniques used with his 30-head cow/calf operation near Pleasantville, IA, on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. USDA Photo.

I recently had the pleasure of spending a day with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson as we toured rural Iowa seeing first-hand the ways farmers are helping protect our nation’s air and water resources. Read more »

What’s Purple, Sticky and Hangs in an Ash Tree? Emerald Ash Borer Survey Traps!

Emerald Ash Borer trap hanging in a tree

Emerald Ash Borer trap hanging in a tree

Animal Plant Health Inspection Services’ (APHIS) Brian Deschu sets EAB detection tools (purple traps) along the roadside right-of-way as part of the national effort to survey for this invasive, tree-killing pest. Read more »

USDA Report Outlines Renewable Power Opportunities for Rural Communities

A new report, titled Renewable Power Opportunities for Rural Communities, is intended to serve as a summary and guide to assist rural utilities that may be considering investing in a renewable electricity generation project and for policymakers who may be considering how to encourage such investments.

This report identifies and discusses a wide array of renewable power opportunities (e.g., wind, solar, geothermal, etc.)  available in rural America.   The principal audience is expected to be local and state governments, rural leaders, rural-based utilities (cooperatives, municipals, and investor owned) and their leadership, and rural residents whose interests are focused on renewable power, distributed generation, and rural economic development.  The report was prepared under the direction of USDA’s Office of Energy Policy and New Uses (OEPNU) and the Office of the Chief Economist.   The report can be found on our website. Read more »

Deputy Secretary Encourages Native American Students to Consider a Career in Agriculture

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan was invited to address the participants at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium’s 30th Annual Conference in Bismarck, North Dakota, earlier this week.  During the presentation, the Deputy Secretary highlighted the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food effort.  She outlined the critical connection between farmers and consumers and the importance of local and regional food systems to increase economic opportunity in rural America. In addition, Deputy Secretary Merrigan informed the audience that 50 percent of U.S. Department of Agriculture employees will be eligible for retirement by 2013.  It is anticipated that many job opportunities and possibilities will become available.  Therefore, USDA will be seeking college graduates with a variety of educational backgrounds to replenish its’ workforce. Read more »

Bright Future for U.S. Sorghum Exports to Spain

More than 40 percent of the United State’s annual grain sorghum crop is exported, making access to international markets vital to the U.S. sorghum farmer. According to the U.S. Grains Council, grain sorghum is the third most important cereal crop grown in the United States and the fifth most important cereal crop grown in the world. The United States is the world’s largest producer of grain sorghum, followed by India and Nigeria. Sorghum has unique properties that make it well suited for food uses. Some sorghum varieties are rich in antioxidants and all sorghum varieties are gluten-free, an attractive alternative for wheat allergy sufferers. Read more »