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Skip Hyberg Honored With Economist of the Year Award

He is a quantitative and scientific force behind the nation’s largest conservation program.

Armed with two doctoral degrees, Skip Hyberg is an economist and a scientist who has linked both of those worlds together to more efficiently target the Farm Service Agency’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

For nearly a decade’s worth of work invested into the monitoring, assessment and evaluation of the CRP program, Hyberg was awarded the 2013 USDA Economist of the Year Award by the USDA Economists Group. Read more »

USDA Promotes Business Development Efforts in Puerto Rico

Earlier this month, USDA Rural Development-Puerto Rico held an Intermediary Relending Program Roundtable meeting for area stakeholders.

Our staff provided a brief overview of the program followed by a very dynamic question and answer session.  The most significant issues discussed were the current barriers to access capital for small businesses and the need to complement their services offerings through common inter-organizational effort.

The main objective of the meeting was to gather all main Intermediary Relending organizations and share their current best practices and current lending challenges.  The meeting also proved to be an excellent opportunity to make services networking, exchange organizational information and identify new funding opportunities. Read more »

Dinosaur Parts Unearthed on Colorado Grassland

Passport in Time volunteer Frances Mayse measures a nearly eight-foot-long shoulder blade of an Apatosaurus near the Last Chance quarry in May 2008. The graphic inset shows the location of the bone on the Apatosaurus. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Passport in Time volunteer Frances Mayse measures a nearly eight-foot-long shoulder blade of an Apatosaurus near the Last Chance quarry in May 2008. The graphic inset shows the location of the bone on the Apatosaurus. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

So many dinosaur fossils are being discovered in a quarry on the Comanche National Grassland in southeast Colorado that experts call the find a “tossed salad of dinosaur parts.”

Last fall, workers found the first Ceratosaurus tooth within the Picket Wire Canyonlands, which is best known for a huge dinosaur track site naturally exposed along the banks of the Purgatoire River. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Fueling Agriculture’s Productivity to New Heights

Today’s farmers and ranchers are the most productive in the history of our nation. By embracing innovation, farmers of many crops are able to produce more than ever today. Meanwhile, our producers, foresters and rural landowners are undertaking modern conservation practices that help them achieve three to five times the benefits of older techniques.

At USDA, we’re working to support America’s farmers and ranchers in making the next big advances in agriculture and conservation.

First and foremost, we will continue to strengthen agricultural research. In his State of the Union Address, President Obama discussed a critical need to invest in the best ideas. We know that investing in agricultural research helps the economy and strengthens agriculture. Every dollar invested in this research generates $20 in economic benefits for our nation, while giving our farmers and ranchers new tools to mitigate risk and increase production. Read more »

California Man Snaps Winning Photo in Sequoia National Forest

A kayaker maneuvers the Seven Teacups on the Kern River in the Sequoia National Forest.  The photo won Glen Maki a trip for four, and his photo will be on the 2013 Federal Recreation Lands Pass. (Photo courtesy Glen Maki)

A kayaker maneuvers the Seven Teacups on the Kern River in the Sequoia National Forest. The photo won Glen Maki a trip for four, and his photo will be on the 2013 Federal Recreation Lands Pass. (Photo courtesy Glen Maki)

Glen Maki of Wofford Heights, Calif., had a camera, a 210 mm lens and just enough time to press the trigger as the digital motor whirred quickly to capture a kayaker maneuver the waters at the Seven Teacups on the Sequoia National Forest.

“I was just taking a lot of pictures,” Maki said. “So when I decided to enter the contest, I had to enter the one I thought was the best. And it turned out pretty well.” Read more »

USDA Funds Help Solidify Nebraska Businesses Needs

Nebraska Northwest Development Corporation (NNDC) is located in Chadron, Nebraska and serves the three northwest Nebraska counties of Dawes, Sheridan and Sioux.  NNDC approached USDA Rural Development in need of additional revolving loan funds as the previous Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) was unable to keep up with the need for loan funds in this area of the state.

Building on previous discussions between Rural Development and NNDC, it was clear the amount of funds needed to significantly impact local entrepreneurs would best be served through an Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) loan.  An IRP application request in the amount of $250,000 was submitted to USDA and, following a national competition, was selected for funding. Read more »