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Secretary’s Column: Biobased Jobs, Grown and Made in America

USDA works everyday to help create jobs in rural America – without waiting for others in Washington to act.

Last week, as a part of President Obama’s White House Rural Council, we announced efforts to spur economic growth by helping businesses take advantage of the productivity of America’s farmers and ranchers.

Today, there are more than 3,000 companies producing more than 20,000 so-called bioproducts made from grasses, grains, oilseeds, and agricultural waste rather than petroleum. They range from cleaning supplies and personal care products to food packaging and turf for football stadiums. Read more »

New Website Showcases the Opportunities of U.S.-Korea FTA

The USDA Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Seoul recently launched a Web page to showcase potential opportunities to be created by the soon-to-be-implemented U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS). KORUS will take effect on March 15, 2012.

The Foreign Agricultural Service recommends that U.S. agricultural exporters and those interested in expanding sales to international markets visit the page, called What U.S. Exporters Need to Know about the KORUS Agreement, to learn about the agreement, understand new tariff schedules, and gain valuable information about the fifth-largest market for U.S. farm products. Read more »

USDA 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum Presentations Available Online

After 6 p.m. February 24, USDA’s 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum speaker presentations will be available online.  The Forum, which occurs annually, was a celebration of USDA’s 150th    anniversary, featuring eight former Secretaries of Agriculture discussing the future of agriculture with Secretary Vilsack. Read more »

Bridging the Gap on Agricultural Research and Development with the Private Sector

Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics

Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with 70 private sector representatives at the first Feed the Future Public-Private Partnership Technical Forum, hosted jointly by USDA, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Department of State at the White House Conference Center. We discussed potential partnerships to increase agricultural growth in developing countries. Then we rolled up our sleeves got to work aligning investments and connecting individuals and activities. Read more »

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 »