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Agriculture Secretary Highlights Renewable Energy Opportunities, Biofuels Investment, During an Energy Roundtable in Minnesota

The use of biofuels needs to expand throughout all of the United States. That’s what Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told an audience of about 50 producers, stakeholders and agency leaders during a renewable energy roundtable discussion at CHS Inc. in Inver Grove Heights, Minn. on Wednesday. Vilsack was joined by Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Amy Klobuchar at the event.

Vilsack shared how USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) helps reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. He also highlighted how a new provision in the program finances the installation of flex fuel pumps at convenience stores and fuel filling facilities throughout rural America. Read more »

The College Tour Comes to Mississippi

Recently, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited Alcorn State University and Mississippi State University as a part of the College Tour, a series of presentations at schools around the country that highlights the relevance of agriculture to our nation’s most pressing issues,  including healthy eating, economic development, environmental protection and resource management.   For each College Tour stop there is a heavy emphasis on encouraging students to enter the agricultural sector and recruiting talented professionals to come to USDA.  While in Mississipi, Deputy Secretary Merrigan worked with her USDA team to host a career fair on each campus after her presentations. Farmweek reports…

Earth Team Skills on Exhibit

The bright yellow demonstration house built by Earth Team volunteers Mike and Jill Viafore is being used at fairs and exhibits to show how to install a home rain barrel and miniature rain garden. Using these practices, homeowners can save water and protect nearby lakes and streams from pollution.

The bright yellow demonstration house built by Earth Team volunteers Mike and Jill Viafore is being used at fairs and exhibits to show how to install a home rain barrel and miniature rain garden. Using these practices, homeowners can save water and protect nearby lakes and streams from pollution.

Mike and Jill Viafore are crafty. This past summer, the couple designed and built a portable demonstration house to educate the public about the benefits of rain barrels and rain gardens at exhibits and fairs. Read more »

Helping Our Rural Citizens on Earth Day and Everyday

USDA NRCS and local officials plant a tree.  Earth Day, April 22, was founded by former U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin and was first celebrated in 1970. Earth Day continues to be celebrated throughout the country.

USDA NRCS and local officials plant a tree. Earth Day, April 22, was founded by former U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin and was first celebrated in 1970. Earth Day continues to be celebrated throughout the country.

Earlier this week, to help kick-off USDA Rural Development’s celebration of Earth Day, I joined with Undersecretary Dallas Tonsager in announcing support for more than 50 USDA Rural Development projects that will help improve water and wastewater systems and provide energy efficiency system upgrades to local  communities across the country. Read more »

USDA Utilities Administrator Announces Broadband Funding for Rural Residents

USDA Rural Development Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein and the Rural Development Broadband Division Staff welcomed over 200 people to the National Broadband Workshop on April 20 – 21, 2011 in Downtown Denver.

While rural communities face unique challenges in creating and sustaining good jobs, they are also presented with unprecedented opportunities for economic growth.  Increasing their access to broadband is one way in which Rural Development can assist communities on this journey.  Providing broadband service to our rural communities is a vital platform for job creation and a springboard for economic development for years to come.  Workshop sessions held focused on a variety of topics including financial analysis and business plan preparation. Read more »

Flex Fuel Pumps and a Green Energy Economy

Cross posted from the White House blog:

As gasoline prices continue to rise across the country, USDA is working with farmers and entrepreneurs to secure our nation’s long-term energy future and give Americans more choices about where to spend their gas dollars: at home or abroad.

For the past two years, USDA has worked to support the research, investment, and infrastructure necessary to build a nationwide biofuels industry that creates jobs in every corner of the country. Read more »