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Planting Seeds of Prosperity

Forestry and Agricultural Investment Management (FAIM) workers in Rwanda check the condition of virus-free banana plant seedlings. FAIM uses the latest scientific research and techniques to produce healthy starter plants for Rwandan farmers to help boost their farm production, incomes and local food supply. The company hopes to expand its effort to other African countries.  Photo courtesy of FAIM.CO

Forestry and Agricultural Investment Management (FAIM) workers in Rwanda check the condition of virus-free banana plant seedlings. FAIM uses the latest scientific research and techniques to produce healthy starter plants for Rwandan farmers to help boost their farm production, incomes and local food supply. The company hopes to expand its effort to other African countries. Photo courtesy of FAIM.CO

Entrepreneur and horticulturalist Steve Jones was on a Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) agricultural trade mission (ATM) to Madagascar in 2006 when he first began thinking about how modern plant propagation techniques might help struggling East African farmers boost their productivity and prosperity. Read more »

USDA Undersecretary Saddles up for Clean Energy, Business and Economic Development in Nevada

With Nevada USDA Rural Development State Director Sarah Adler as his side-kick, Agriculture Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager hit the trail earlier this month in Nevada, kicking off a major job-creating clean energy announcement, meeting with business owners and talking to ranchers severely challenged by the drought.

Tonsager kicked off his trip with a news conference to announce a loan guarantee to Fulcrum Sierra BioFuels to build an advanced biofuels refinery in northern Nevada. The refinery will convert 147,000 tons of municipal solid waste into more than 10 million gallons of advanced biofuels each year, creating 430 jobs during construction and over 50 permanent jobs.

He met with state agency representatives interested in capitalizing Nevada small business projects, and met with a USDA Business and Industry loan guarantee recipient – a manufacturer who recently attended a White House conference on manufacturing. Read more »

Mississippi Church Restores & Nurtures a Forest with NRCS’ Help

Deacon Willie Moseley nurtures not only his church’s congregation, but also the 40 acres of forest that surround it. Antioch Baptist Church in Lauderdale County, Miss. has owned the land for almost a century, but the church has recently formed a new vision for caring for this forest.

Starting in the 1920s, trees on the church’s property were harvested periodically to help finance church projects, but a major harvest in the 1990s left nothing but stumps and idle land. Moseley wanted the church to benefit from the forest—sustainably managed forests can provide a steady income to their owners—and he turned to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for help.

Moseley had worked with NRCS on his own land, so when he recently was chosen to head the church’s Board of Trustees, he started talking to the other deacons about how NRCS provides financial assistance, expertise in planting trees and other help with stewardship of forests and other natural resources. Read more »

Forest Service, Partners Join Forces on Prescribed Burn for Healthier Forests in Florida

CNN news and weather anchor Rob Marciano highlights multi-agency partnerships and the benefits of prescribed fire during a visit to Bristol, Fla., hosted by The Nature Conservancy on Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Prescribed fire is integral in improving forest health and is one of the most effective tools used

CNN news and weather anchor Rob Marciano highlights multi-agency partnerships and the benefits of prescribed fire during a visit to Bristol, Fla., hosted by The Nature Conservancy on Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Prescribed fire is integral in improving forest health and is one of the most effective tools used

This summer’s wildland fires in the West have galvanized the nation’s attention and mobilized arsenals of fire-fighting support to bring those fires under control. But there is another type of fire known as prescribed fire which helps make forests and grasslands healthier and protects communities and natural resources including access to clean, abundant water. Read more »

Shared Challenges, Shared Solutions

It’s been a productive time here in Qingdao, China.  USDA and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), with support from the Gates Foundation, have gathered some of the top minds from around the world at the Mini-Summit on Agricultural Research to discuss challenges related to food security, food safety, and sustainable agriculture. China’s Vice Minister for Science and Technology, Zhang Laiwu and I led talks among experts from many nations and many sectors to focus on strengthening international research collaboration to benefit our nations and agriculture around the world.  Representatives of organizations like the Gates Foundation joined forces with African research leaders, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Bank to share information and discuss ways to leverage global resources to address global challenges affecting all nations.

The USDA and China’s MOST have a history of working together, with mutual respect, and with each meeting the relationship between our agencies grow stronger. USDA’s vision to address our shared challenges in the developed and developing world alike includes cooperative multilateral and international efforts.  Through these efforts, we hope to further establish global research collaboration platforms which provide the building blocks for the scientific community to confront many of our most pressing challenges. These platforms include: Read more »

With USDA Support, Navajo Nation’s Hardrock Chapter Opens New Multi-Purpose Building

The Navajo Nation’s Hardrock Chapter recently celebrated the opening of their new chapter house and multi-purpose center with a day of celebration, speeches, food and dance.

The building will serve as a safe and secure location for after school activities and also as a health center for seniors.

USDA Rural Development funded nearly $300,000 of the $1 million facility. The funds went to the Hardrock Council on Substance Abuse, Inc. who will also use the facility for wellness and counseling services. Read more »