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Oregon Resident Honored as Forest Service Regional Volunteer of the Year

Starr serves as the trail boss for Mid-Valley Oregon Equestrian Trails and is a member of the Back Country Horseman of Oregon. USFS photo.

Starr serves as the trail boss for Mid-Valley Oregon Equestrian Trails and is a member of the Back Country Horseman of Oregon. USFS photo.

The Northwest Region of the Forest Service has named Joel Starr of Philomath, Ore., as their volunteer of the year.  The honor is bestowed upon those individuals who contribute outstanding service to public lands. Starr has worked on a variety of volunteer projects for the Willamette, Deschutes, Siuslaw and Mt. Hood national forests. His contributions to public lands in western Oregon span over 10 years. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Renewable Energy in Your Community

Over the past three years, USDA has taken important steps to help meet President Obama’s goal of building a secure energy future for our nation. We’ve helped back the science, research and planning to expand production of biofuels and other bio-based products. We’ve supported farmers and entrepreneurs working to produce renewable energy or become more energy efficient.

We want Americans to learn about our good work and also to see how their community can get involved in an expanding renewable energy and bio-based economy that is creating jobs and driving economic growth across rural America. Read more »

USDA Announces Streamlined Access to Energy Investment Information

The Renewable Energy Investments web map contains information regarding USDA programs that provide assistance to renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

The Renewable Energy Investments web map contains information regarding USDA programs that provide assistance to renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

As Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development, it is my responsibility to oversee the administration of many of the renewable energy programs included in the 2008 Farm Bill.  For example, today we are announcing the availability of funds for the popular “Rural Energy for America” program (REAP). Read more »

Emergency Watershed Protection Program Saves New Mexico Community

Assessing the Track Fire aftermath: NRCS New Mexico employee Brian Schwebke (far right), a member of the NRCS Damage Survey Report Team, and officials of the City of Raton, view a sediment pond. Assessing the Track Fire aftermath: NRCS New Mexico employee Brian Schwebke (far right), a member of the NRCS Damage Survey Report Team, and officials of the City of Raton, view a sediment pond.

Assessing the Track Fire aftermath: NRCS New Mexico employee Brian Schwebke (far right), a member of the NRCS Damage Survey Report Team, and officials of the City of Raton, view a sediment pond.

Disaster struck northern New Mexico on June 12, 2011, as the human-caused “Track Fire” exploded north of Raton, in Colfax County. Within 72 hours, 27,790 acres were scorched in New Mexico and Colorado. Luckily, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) was able to begin the restoration of the Lake Maloya watershed area almost immediately through its Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program. Read more »

USDA Welcomes Appointment of U.S. Ambassador Ertharin Cousin as the World Food Programme’s Executive Director

There is good news!  Earlier this week Ambassador Ertharin Cousin was appointed as Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme. The WFP, based in Rome, is the world’s largest humanitarian agency. Its objective is to provide food aid to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people with the intent of ultimately ending the need for food aid by eradicating hunger and poverty.

Ambassador Cousin is uniquely qualified to assume this prominent position. I have had the opportunity to spend time with her in one of the grandest cities in the world.  For more than two years, she has been living in Rome, where she has served as our country’s Representative to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome.  In this role, Ambassador Cousin has provided critical leadership in helping to carry out President Obama’s global food security policies.  She is full of energy, ideas, and optimism.  Secretary Vilsack and I greatly appreciate Ambassador Cousin’s support in fulfilling the United States’ strategic objectives with the three Rome-based U.N. agencies. We know she will bring the same level of dedication to her new role. Read more »

4-H Farmers Market Connects Oklahoma Community

Loyal Doers 4-H Club members get produce ready for their community farmers market.  The market was started by the club as a response to the needs of the community, and helps teach members the fundamentals of agriculture and community involvement.  Photo by Bradley D. James

Loyal Doers 4-H Club members get produce ready for their community farmers market. The market was started by the club as a response to the needs of the community, and helps teach members the fundamentals of agriculture and community involvement. Photo by Bradley D. James

This summer, the Loyal Doers 4-H Club in Hooker, Oklahoma, successfully held the state’s first 4-H-sponsored farmers market.  The market was a huge success, and the youth gained firsthand knowledge about growing produce and getting involved in the community.  It also helped the community connect with the farmers that produce their food while offering them a wonderful selection of fresh, wholesome products. Read more »