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Renewable Energy: Creating Jobs In Rural Communities

Are there cost effective steps that rural communities can take to attract and grow competitive, sustainable energy-related businesses? That was the central question being examined by visiting members of the Organization for Economic and Community Development (OECD) during a series of meetings this fall hosted by USDA Rural Development in four states.

OECD economists and USDA staff met with state and local officials as well as non-profit research organizations and private businesses in Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Tennessee during October and November. The meetings examined the impact of federal and state investments in renewable energy production and the impact they have had on economic development in rural communities in recent years. Read more »

A New Hiring Guide for America’s Agricultural Employers

Cross posted from the Department of Labor blog:

Agricultural businesses large and small rely on seasonal workers.  When U.S. workers are not available, employers can utilize the H-2A program to hire temporary foreign workers to perform certain types of agricultural work.

Our Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) is charged by Congress with protecting the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers while also providing a legal means for employers to access foreign workers with critical skills.  OFLC is strengthening America’s economic competitiveness through a foreign labor system that reflects our values and meets employers’ needs. Read more »

2012 Ag Outlook Forum: Food Price and Farm Income Outlooks

USDA’s 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum, Feb. 23-24, will present 25 breakout sessions, including the annual Food Price and Farm Income Outlooks.  Economist Richard Volpe with the Economic Research Service (ERS) will discuss USDA’s forecast for food price inflation, including recent historical trends in food expenditure patterns and the relationship between food prices and inflation in the general economy.  Read more »

Brazilian Beetles Combat Invasive Species in Hawaii

Strawberry guava plant.

Strawberry guava plant.

This month a Brazilian beetle, tested for years by the U.S. Forest Service, is being released in Hawaii to hopefully devourer a non-native fruit known as strawberry guava. Though it sounds delicious, this colorful plant is invading and threatening Hawaii’s native forests and watersheds and has already overtaken hundreds of thousands of acres on the archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Read more »

USDA Rural Development Invests in Maine Schools through Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants

USDA Rural Development Maine State Director Virginia Manuel made a major announcement to Region II School of Applied Technology, in Houlton, on Friday. The School received the news that it will benefit from three USDA Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants.

The grant funds will provide access for adult learners in rural Maine to improve their employability and obtain marketable technical skills. This project has three wings, with each wing of this network introducing a new configuration of rural end-users and content providers who will add value to the education network: Read more »

New Natural Inquirer World’s Forest Edition

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 portfolio.

In partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Cradle of Forestry Interpretive Association, the Forest Service is pleased to announce the second Natural Inquirer World’s Forest edition. Read more »