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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 »

One Year after Deepwater and 470,000 Acres of Wetland Bird Habitat Later…

Just recently, the wildlife conservation organization Ducks Unlimited presented me with their 2011 Wetland Conservation Achievement Award—Special Achievement category for the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative (MBHI) and our record signup for the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).

It was an honor to accept this award on behalf of all Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) employees and numerous partners, including Ducks Unlimited, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USA Rice Federation, National Cotton Council, National Association of Conservation Districts, The Nature Conservancy, and National Audubon Society .*

But let me back up a bit on MBHI. Read more »

Tanzanian Engineer Keeps Skills Sharp Assisting Michigan Farmers as an Earth Team Volunteer

NRCS District Conservationist Edwin Martinez conducts a wetland determination assisted by Earth Team Volunteer Tula Ngasala near St. Johns, Mich. Ngasala, a Tanzanian engineer, assists the St. Johns Field Office one day a week.

NRCS District Conservationist Edwin Martinez conducts a wetland determination assisted by Earth Team Volunteer Tula Ngasala near St. Johns, Mich. Ngasala, a Tanzanian engineer, assists the St. Johns Field Office one day a week.

Tulakemelwa Ngasala is a Tanzanian civil and water resources engineer currently living in Michigan. While in the United States she is caring for her three young girls while her husband works toward his Ph.D. in geology at Michigan State University. Read more »

PollinatorLIVE Multi-Agency Conservation Education Program Reaching Students at All Levels

Fourth-grade teacher Theresa Artman sat her students in front of a large monitor in her Austin, Texas, classroom. But they weren’t alone.

The Joslin Elementary School students were just some of the thousands of children across the country who watched the April 13 webcast of PollinatorLIVE from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Tamberly Conway, a conservation education coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service hosted the show. Read more »