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Two Hundred and Fifty Feet up with Only a Rope to Get Down

Pacific Northwest Rappel Academy students practice their trade. US Forest Service photo.

Pacific Northwest Rappel Academy students practice their trade. US Forest Service photo.

Rappellers are firefighters who are delivered to remote and inaccessible wildfires by means of dropping down a rope from helicopters hovering 250 feet high.

Earlier this month over 50 veteran Forest Service rappellers throughout the West prepared for a new fire season with training and recertification classes in Oregon and Idaho. Read more »

USDA Funding Means Jobs, Increased Production for a Minnesota Tractor Manufacturing Company

Walking through AGCO’s campus in Jackson, Minn., almost feels like walking through a small city. There are large buildings, busy people heading in different directions, vehicles humming up and down roads and the constant buzz of activity and production.

If AGCO was its own city, it’d be growing.

Officials from USDA Rural Development and Federated Rural Electric Cooperative recently visited AGCO to highlight how a Rural Economic Development Loan is partially financing an expansion project that will increase production and create about 200 jobs. Read more »

Grazing Partners Play Vital Role in Nebraska Rangelands Conservation

A herd of cattle gather around a stock pond on the vast Oglala National Grasslands.

A herd of cattle gather around a stock pond on the vast Oglala National Grasslands.

On any given day during grazing season, Black Angus cattle amble across areas of the Oglala National Grassland in northwestern Nebraska. Yet they play a bigger role than just grazing for their daily meal.  They help support the local economy, are the lifeline of a family business and have a role in a healthy rangeland ecosystem. Read more »

USDA Praises Industry, Midwest Stakeholders, as they Sign an Agreement To Develop Commercial Biofuels

Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Agriculture Sarah Bittleman talked about the Agriculture perspectives on advanced drop-in biofuels, at the Industry Roundtable held in the Jefferson Auditorium, U.S.Department of  Agriculture Headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Friday, May 18, 2012.  Her talk discussed which feedstocks the USDA sees as coming  advanced drop-in biofuels industry, what a transition from a food to a non-food related feedstock looks like and when/if they are required, and a detailed overview of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) programs.   USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Agriculture Sarah Bittleman talked about the Agriculture perspectives on advanced drop-in biofuels, at the Industry Roundtable held in the Jefferson Auditorium, U.S.Department of Agriculture Headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Friday, May 18, 2012. Her talk discussed which feedstocks the USDA sees as coming advanced drop-in biofuels industry, what a transition from a food to a non-food related feedstock looks like and when/if they are required, and a detailed overview of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) programs. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Great things continue to happen as America moves forward in developing an “all of the above” strategy to become more energy independent.  For example, an agreement was signed between aviation industry leaders and Midwest stakeholders to develop and commercialize sustainable biofuels.  USDA will act as an advisor to this effort. Read more »

Island Flowers Bloom with Assistance from FSA

The Gurr family moved from a nursery at their home to a retail space near the capital of American Samoa.

The Gurr family moved from a nursery at their home to a retail space near the capital of American Samoa.

Island Flowers by Liana opened their doors to American Samoa on May 7, 2008 — the week of Mother’s day — and business has been blooming every since. From humble beginnings selling cut flowers directly out of nurseries from their home in Maloata, this family run operation has become one of the leading florist shops on the island and a growing contributor to the local economy. Read more »

Mississippi Marks the 150th Anniversary of USDA

Mississippi staff recently commemorated the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its work on behalf of agriculture, rural America and people throughout the country and world who benefit from the work of the agency. Mississippi agencies USDA Rural Development (RD), National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), and Forest Service celebrated on May 15. In addition to an event at the RD state office, all the agencies area offices across the state hosted events. The event included watching the national observance from USDA headquarters in Washington, a slideshow presentation detailing history about all the agencies, agency information on display, and comments from agency heads and staff.

When President Abraham Lincoln founded the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1862, he called it “the People’s Department,” a sentiment that still rings true today as the Department’s diverse portfolio boasts strong support for American agriculture and local and regional food systems, as well as critical nutrition assistancefood safety, conservationrural development, and research programs, among many other programs and initiatives. “USDA still continues as ‘the People’s Department’ by  investing in rural America and the rural communities that millions call home and investing in community facilities and helping to ensure communities have access to critical infrastructure. Additionally through grant and loan programs for rural businesses, USDA helps to drive job growth in rural America and build thriving economies for the long term,” said Trina George, Mississippi State Director USDA Rural Development. Read more »