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Making a Difference

Secretary Tom Vilsack (right) constructs playground equipment at Hyde Leadership Charter School in Northeast D.C.  In the foreground is Housing Secretary, Shaun Donovan, Education Secretary Arne Duncan (left) and National Service Director Patrick Corvington looks on.

Secretary Tom Vilsack (right) constructs playground equipment at Hyde Leadership Charter School in Northeast D.C. In the foreground is Housing Secretary, Shaun Donovan, Education Secretary Arne Duncan (left) and National Service Director Patrick Corvington looks on.

Saturday, October 23, 2010 — This morning dawned a beautiful, crisp, autumn day here in the District of Columbia.  As the sun climbed above the horizon, over 500 volunteers gathered to build a playground at the Hyde Leadership Charter School in northeast DC.  Among the volunteers were Secretary and Mrs. Vilsack along with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and his wife, Karen.  Mrs. Duncan works with a non-profit group called KaBoom which advocates development of play areas for children and openspace for communities.  Both Mrs. Vilsack and Mrs. Duncan are teachers and have gained an excellent rapport over the past year advocating healthy, nutritious meals in the National School Lunch Program and also promoting the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative.  Read more »

The Heart and Soul of USDA Rural Development’s Business – Cooperative Programs is the Business and Industry (B&I) Guaranteed Loan Program

Congressman Leonard Boswell; Judy Canales, USDA Rural Business Programs Administrator; and Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa (Next to Canales on Right), listen to Pat Weiler (left) as he talks about upcoming changes at Weiler's manufacturing facility.

Congressman Leonard Boswell; Judy Canales, USDA Rural Business Programs Administrator; and Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa (Next to Canales on Right), listen to Pat Weiler (left) as he talks about upcoming changes at Weiler's manufacturing facility.

During the past year, nearly $3 billion in guaranteed loans were issued through The USDA Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program to lenders across the country as they worked with local businesses to help create jobs in rural America.

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Wood-to-Energy Efforts Expanding, Restoring Economies and Ecosystems

In mid-October, USDA’s Under Secretaries for Natural Resources & Environment, Rural Development, and Farm & Foreign Agriculture Services launched a major new Wood-to-Energy Initiative that seeks to build a forest restoration economy by integrating wood-to-energy activities within the larger forest products sector.  Consisting of a broad-scale effort to coordinate USDA technical and program support to stimulate the wood-to-energy sector, the initiative takes its cue from the Administration’s emphasis on the role of renewable fuels and forest restoration in sustaining rural jobs and prosperity, which has been expressed in numerous contexts by senior Administration officials including Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Read more »

More than 140 U.S. Exhibitors Participate in SIAL Paris to Showcase U.S. Agricultural Products

Trade visitors sample a variety of cheeses at the Rogue Creamery stand in the USA Pavilion. Rogue Creamery, an artisan cheese company, is dedicated to sustainability and the art and tradition of making the world's finest handmade cheese.

Trade visitors sample a variety of cheeses at the Rogue Creamery stand in the USA Pavilion. Rogue Creamery, an artisan cheese company, is dedicated to sustainability and the art and tradition of making the world's finest handmade cheese.

Earlier this week I traveled to Paris to attend the 24th edition of the Salon International d’Alimentation (SIAL). This 5-day event is one of the largest international food and beverage trade exhibitions in the world, attracting 5,500 exhibitors and over 147,000 trade-only visitors representing 188 countries. I was very impressed by the wide variety of U.S. products on display and by the number of participating countries. Read more »

USDA Rural Development Administrator talks Energy in Ohio

As America dedicates more resources to researching, developing and deploying new energy production technologies to help reduce its dependence on petroleum imported from abroad, positive discussions are occurring among energy industry leaders about the environmental and economic impact adopting these emerging technologies might have nationally. Read more »

Food Safety Across Borders

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator Al Almanza (fourth from left) was among the senior executives from 10 federal agencies who took part in the Interagency Import Safety Conference at Dulles, Va., on October 21, 2010.

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator Al Almanza (fourth from left) was among the senior executives from 10 federal agencies who took part in the Interagency Import Safety Conference at Dulles, Va., on October 21, 2010.

Yesterday I visited with FSIS personnel and 9 other federal agencies in Dulles, Virginia to focus on a critical element of food safety: protecting the public from unsafe imports. Read more »