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Announcing This Year’s Distinguished Plenary Panel

USDA’s annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, Today’s Strategies & Tomorrow’s Opportunities, will be held February 24-25, 2011, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.

Secretary Tom Vilsack will deliver the Keynote Address.  The Distinguished Plenary Panel will be moderated by Christine Cochran, President of the Commodity Markets Council, and focus on the economy, managing risk, and broadband in rural communities.  The four panelists and their topics include:  Nariman Behravesh, the Chief Economist, IHS Global Insight, speaking on “The Global Economy;” Charles Whitman, the Founder and CEO of Infinium Capital Management, speaking on “Managing Risk and Electronic Trading;” Pete Nessler, President of FCStone LLC, speaking on “Managing Risk in a Complex World;” and Michael Copps, Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, speaking on “Broadband in Rural Communities.”

For more insight on the breadth and depth of their experience, please visit their biographies and register for the Forum.

Harvest Time Leads to Delicious Meal at Dallas Elementary School

Chef John Tesar demonstrates how to make a salad with greens grown at Stonewall Garden.

Chef John Tesar demonstrates how to make a salad with greens grown at Stonewall Garden.

On a cool mid November morning in Dallas, first graders at Stonewall Jackson Elementary rushed through their 20,000 square foot garden to harvest the vegetables they’ve been monitoring with anticipation.  On this day, they were getting a chance to taste their bounty, along with prominent local Chef John Tesar and USDA Food and Nutrition Service staff. Read more »

Regional Collaboration Uses Local Food Systems to Expand Rural-Urban Partnership

A regional initiative in Southwest Iowa originally intended to train farmers on local-food production has evolved into a rural-urban partnership that touches a poverty-stricken community.  I joined USDA Rural Development Acting Deputy Under Secretary Doug O’Brien in Oakland, Iowa, recently to meet with officials from the Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) council.

Golden Hills was one of seven “Great Regions” designed by Rural Development earlier this year for its plan to, among other things, provide business and management skills training for up to 15 farm-based businesses. Read more »

USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone Wrap-Up

The USDA’s Food Safety Discovery Zone (FSDZ) concluded its 2010 tour season on November 13, 2010 at the National Science Teachers Association Area Conference, in Baltimore, MD.  “How can I get this to my school and how much does it cost?” was the main question asked by the 2,617 educators who visited the FSDZ during the conference. Read more »

Researchers Study How Parenting Styles Influence Children’s Eating Habits

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio

If there is one thing you can count on during the holidays, it is food – and in large quantities! While you may not be able to avoid the endless stream of Christmas treats, our eating habits the rest of the year are really important. Especially those we teach our children. Read more »

USDA Rural Development Loan Guarantee Helps Business Maintain Equal Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

For the last 32 years, Minnesota Diversified Industries (MDI), a non-profit social enterprise, has been dedicated to providing job opportunities for people with disabilities.  Founded in 1964 by John DuRand as an Occupational Training Center, MDI transitioned into an Affirmative Business in 1978.  Company leaders wanted to provide people, specifically people with disabilities, equal opportunity employment.

MDI is an AbilityOne program through which government products and services are set aside for people with disabilities.  With locations in St. Paul, Grand Rapids, and Hibbing, MDI currently employs 131 people, 70 of which are people with disabilities. Read more »