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Secretary Vilsack Receives Applause for Farm-Grown Renewable Energy at Commodity Classic and Town Hall Broadcast

Earlier this month, Secretary Tom Vilsack received a warm welcome from the record breaking crowd of more than 6,000 farmers, ranchers and farm industry leaders at the General Session of the 2012 Commodity Classic in Nashville. The night before, an audience of more than 250 farmers, conservationists, renewable energy experts, farm-industry leaders and students packed the Secretary’s Town Hall Meeting, “Blueprint for a Rural America Built to Last,” broadcast live on Rural TV with questions coming in from callers in 18 states and a nationwide audience.

Both events included spirited discussion on the future of commodity prices, crop insurance and other details for the next Farm Bill being considered by Congress this year. However, the biggest applause and cheers came at both events when the Secretary answered questions on farm-based renewable energy. Read more »

A Treasured Landscape in Oregon Becomes a Work of Art

Karly Hedrick (l) and Fran Willis (r) admire a quilt in progress. Photo by Maret Pajutee, USFS.

Karly Hedrick (l) and Fran Willis (r) admire a quilt in progress. Photo by Maret Pajutee, USFS.

To date, the Tale of Two Rivers conservation campaign has generated an original microbrew, an annual cycling event, a paint-a-thon and a movie screening.

Now up: a modern quilting bee. Read more »

You’re Invited! “Match Making” in the Biofuels Value Chain at USDA

On March 30th, the Department of Agriculture, is hosting a “match making day” at USDA, to promote connections between agricultural producers of energy feedstocks (and their related businesses) with biorefiners seeking to produce biofuels for commercial sale and consumption. Officials from the U.S. Department of Navy, U.S. Department of Energy, and the Federal Aviation Administration will attend, make presentations and answer questions.

As we move forward as a nation, identifying and implementing an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, there are key relationships that will determine our success in the effort to develop and deploy aviation biofuels.  The objectives of this match making session will be to improve awareness and increase understanding of the biofuels supply-chain links between those involved in feedstock production and the processors of that feedstock into biofuels.  This includes logistical challenges, potential roles of service providers, and potential pitfalls. Read more »

NRCS Participates in Organic Farming Conference

If you are interested in organic farms and food, La Crosse, Wisconsin is the place to be in late February—when the largest organic farming conference in the U.S. takes place there.

Jean Stramel, Grazing Lands Specialist in Richland Center, discusses what assistance is available from NRCS for interested graziers.

Jean Stramel, Grazing Lands Specialist in Richland Center, discusses what assistance is available from NRCS for interested graziers.

This year’s Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) organic farming conference ran from Feb. 23 through Feb. 25 and was attended by over 3,300 people from 39 states. Over 150 exhibitors were there to provide information related to organic farming. Read more »

U.S. Forest Service Women: Opportunities are Endless

When the U.S. Forest Service was established in 1905, the common belief was that only men were physically and mentally capable of working outdoors for the agency. In the early 20th century, women were limited primarily to roles as administrative clerks. But in 1913, Hallie M. Daggett was hired as the first woman employee to be assigned to field work. She worked as a lookout at Klamath Peak on the Klamath National Forest in Yreka, Calif. – for 14 years.

Today, women comprise 38 percent of all of the Forest Service’s more than 30,000 employees. Women hold positions in all aspects within the agency, including forester positions, scientists and senior leadership roles.

“We take a lot of our opportunities today for granted as if they have always been that way,” said Angela Coleman, Associate Deputy Chief of Forest Service Research and Development. “We don’t stop long enough to thank those pioneers, women and men, who helped break down barriers that allow the Forest Service to be more inclusive. We are stronger today because of the strength of our diversity.” Read more »

The Best Food Distribution Models for Small and Mid-Sized Farmers

Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco.  Wholesale buyers like Bi-Rite see value in marketing local products.  Our study found that marketing to regional preferences helps farmers get a better price for their products.

Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco. Wholesale buyers like Bi-Rite see value in marketing local products. Our study found that marketing to regional preferences helps farmers get a better price for their products.

Small and mid-size farmers are the backbone of farmers markets, but they often face particular obstacles when trying to sell products in markets like grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, and schools.  Through the Transportation and Marketing program at USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), we explored this issue in our recent study, Moving Food Along the Value Chain: Innovations in Regional Food Distribution. Read more »