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Deputy Agriculture Secretary Tours Cutting-Edge Renewable Energy Facility in Michigan

Last week, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited the campus of Michigan State University to participate in a tour of the cellulosic ethanol pretreatment lab at MBI International and conduct a roundtable discussion with key stakeholders in Michigan’s biofuels community.

MBI is owned by the Michigan State University Foundation and its purpose is to “de-risk” emerging technologies, making them more viable for commercial application.  One of MBI’s current projects is developing ways to scale cellulosic ethanol from the laboratory to the marketplace. Read more »

Faces of the Forest Celebrates Nan Christianson

Nan Christianson worked in many jobs during her three decades with the U.S. Forest Service.  She considers them all gifts.

“I think that because I’ve been able to work with communities as well as with natural resources, it is fun to go back and see some of the things I have been a part of over the past 30 years that are making a difference in communities and in the mountains today”, said Christianson, Assistant Director for Communications at the Rocky Mountain Research Station, in Fort Collins, Colo. Read more »

New USDA Grant Aimed at Improving Food Safety for Nation’s Kids

Millions of those who receive nutrition assistance from the federal government are children. Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our kids and so, at USDA, we are working to ensure that kids are being served safe, high quality meals.

To emphasize this priority, Secretary Vilsack has just announced that Kansas State University was selected to establish the Center of Excellence for Food Safety Research in Child Nutrition Programs.  Their important work will provide science-based support to improve the safety of USDA foods, particularly those served in schools and child care settings. Read more »

The “Little School That Could” Reaches Top

Students at F.S. Ervin Elementary School in Pine Hill, Ala., do Power Panther moves to celebrate their school’s HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award of Distinction (USDA photo by Debbie Smoot).

Students at F.S. Ervin Elementary School in Pine Hill, Ala., do Power Panther moves to celebrate their school’s HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award of Distinction (USDA photo by Debbie Smoot).

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

Everyone has heard the children’s story of the “Little Engine that Could” that made the long journey to the top of the hill by pure determination and can-do attitude.  But have you heard the story about the “Little School that Could”? Read more »

Geographic Preference: Helping Schools Purchase Local Foods for School Meal Programs

USDA ramps up its support for farm to school programs.

The 2008 Farm Bill contained more support for local and regional food systems than ever before, with provisions such as a 5% set-aside within the Rural Development Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program and increased funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program.  Farm to school efforts also received significant support as the Bill gave allowance for school districts to apply the option of a “geographic preference” when buying unprocessed locally grown or raised foods. Read more »

USDA Utilities Administrator Announces Support to Improve Electric Service and Provide Smart Grid Technology to Thousands of Colorado Residents

Jonathan Adelstein, USDA Rural Development Rural Utilities Administrator joined Colorado Rural Development Director Jim Isgar and representatives from Colorado’s congressional delegation for a ceremonial presentation at Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association, Inc. in Windsor, Colorado.

The entity was recently awarded a $43 million Rural Electric Loan to connect 2,069 new consumers while building 54 miles of new distribution line.  The funding is a win-win project for the co-op, the consumers are helped by offering a better and more reliable product and the co-op will be able to increase efficiency.  The loan will allow the entity to make improvements to 186 miles of distribution lines.   The project also includes $6.7 million in smart grid technologies, which will be used for technology, such as advanced metering and can provide data to consumers and utilities to better manage power use and costs. Read more »