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How a Pioneering Woman and the Early USDA Launched a Second California “Gold Rush”

This year USDA is commemorating the 150th anniversary of our founding.  From time to time we will post blogs – like this one – that look to celebrate our past accomplishments and share the unique and important contributions the Department has made to the nation over 150 years. Also, be sure to sign up for USDA at 150 Factoid Series for historical facts and photos here.

If you have ever enjoyed the delicious sweetness of California navel oranges, you might be surprised to discover that you have California pioneer Eliza Lovell Tibbets and USDA’s first botanist and landscape designer William Saunders to thank. Read more »

Summer Jobs Are Available; Apply Now

Thousands of temporary seasonal jobs with the Forest Service and its partners are available this summer and now is the time to apply.

Javonnta Murphy and Troy Dorgeloh of the California Conservation Corps work to add 8 miles to the San Domingo portion of the Arnold Rim Trail in the Stanislaus National Forest in California. USFS photo.

Javonnta Murphy and Troy Dorgeloh of the California Conservation Corps work to add 8 miles to the San Domingo portion of the Arnold Rim Trail in the Stanislaus National Forest in California. USFS photo.

“Due to the seasonal nature of much of our work, such as wildfire fighting and seasonal recreation programs, we anticipate hiring many temporary workers,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: A Strong Safety Net

As a warm winter drew to a close with the warmest March on record, many farmers around the country were already in the fields and others are itching to get crops in the ground.

Each planting season begins with such promise. This one is no different. But agriculture is unpredictable. And in the months ahead, some of our nation’s producers will contend with droughts, floods, tornados, storms and other natural disasters before they can harvest their crops and bring them to market. Read more »

Report from USDA: Supporting Cutting-Edge Efforts to Reduce America’s Reliance on Fossil Fuel

Cross posted from the White House blog:

Since taking office, President Obama has been committed to an all-of-the-above approach that expands production of American energy resources. Already, there are signs that this strategy is making an impact. Last year, domestic oil production reached the highest level in nearly a decade. Imports of foreign oil fell to the lowest level in 16 years. We’re producing more natural gas than at any time in our history. Since 2008, renewable energy generation from sources like wind, solar, and geothermal has nearly doubled. And the Obama Administration has supported the first nuclear power plant in thirty years.

Strengthening the domestic biofuels industry has been another critical component of this overall strategy. And today, U.S. biofuel production is at its highest level in history. In fact, average monthly production increased more than 40 percent between 2008 and 2011. That means more jobs – especially in rural America – and greater energy security. Read more »

USDA and Nebraska Colleges Work to Improve Access to Higher Education and Deliver Jobs

Front row: Mary Honke, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Dr. Greg Smith, President of Central Community College. Back row from left to right are:  Dr. Jack Huck, President of Southeast Community College; Ryan Purdy, Interim President of Mid-Plains Community College; Dr. Todd Holcomb, President of Western Community College; State Director Maxine Moul; and Dennis Baack, Executive Director of the Nebraska Community College Association.

Front row: Mary Honke, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Dr. Greg Smith, President of Central Community College. Back row from left to right are: Dr. Jack Huck, President of Southeast Community College; Ryan Purdy, Interim President of Mid-Plains Community College; Dr. Todd Holcomb, President of Western Community College; State Director Maxine Moul; and Dennis Baack, Executive Director of the Nebraska Community College Association.

Local colleges and USDA Rural Development are combining resources to improve the availability of higher education in rural areas. This increased emphasis on continuing education will bring a stronger work force to Nebraska. Read more »

USDA Economic Data: Building Blocks for Policy

About midway through USDA’s 150-year history, federal officials decided that economic research and analysis could be a valuable, objective tool in helping farmers – and policymakers – grapple with farm price and income issues. In 1922, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (BAE) – predecessor agency of USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) – came into existence. The Bureau began regularly producing agricultural market outlook reports (still an ERS staple), and – not surprisingly – its early work included analysis of agricultural policy impacts during the Great Depression.

Employees of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (circa 1930), predecessor agency of the Economic Research Service.

Employees of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (circa 1930), predecessor agency of the Economic Research Service.

Although the BAE’s functions were dispersed throughout the Department in the 1950s, they were assembled again into a single agency, the Economic Research Service, in 1961.  I’ll touch on just a few highlights of ERS activities that illustrate the value of our agency’s work over the past century. Read more »