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Energy Questions? Ask Secretary Vilsack using #AskUSDA!

Do you have an interest in U.S. energy policy? Are you in the ag sector looking for options in renewable energy?  Here’s your chance to ask USDA!

On Thursday, April 5 at 1:30pm ET, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack himself will sit down for 45 minutes to answer YOUR questions on the Department’s renewable energy programs, and how USDA is helping build a secure energy future for America.  Just submit them to the @USDA Twitter account using the hashtag #AskUSDA. Read more »

Keeping South Dakota Communities Strong and Vibrant

This week, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) state offices in South Dakota. While there, I spoke with local residents about overarching Department-level priorities, as well as the many opportunities, programs, and services these folks have at their disposal, thanks to USDA.

This listening session was a wonderful opportunity to hear about both the successes and concerns of local South Dakota residents. We spoke about everything from flooding to program streamlining to fears of staff reduction. Read more »

Florida County-Wide Cleanup Event Includes Spring Cleaning on the Apalachicola

Recreation Technician Sherry Gaston of the Apalachicola National Forest bags trash littering the forest during Super-Clean Sweep. (U.S. Forest Service photo by Susan Blake)

Recreation Technician Sherry Gaston of the Apalachicola National Forest bags trash littering the forest during Super-Clean Sweep. (U.S. Forest Service photo by Susan Blake)

Volunteers from the U.S. Forest Service joined forces with Leon County, Florida residents recently to participate in the county’s 17th annual Super-Clean Sweep cleanup activities which included parts of the Apalachicola National Forest.

The county-wide event was part of the “Keep Tallahassee Leon County Beautiful” program which drew nearly 100 volunteers from county and city agencies, local organizations and local citizens. Read more »

State Director Maxine Moul Showcases Energy Efficiency Projects

Nebraska news media, including local daily and weekly newspapers and radio stations around the state highlighted the energy tour conducted by USDA Rural Development Nebraska State Director Maxine Moul on March 23.  She met with three Nebraska businesses that were assisted through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) for energy efficiency improvements.  The visits stemmed from the release of the USDA report highlighting the impact of the program on promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Business visits started with Main Street Floral, LLC in Superior, which received a grant of more than $5,000 to install an energy efficient front door, windows and lighting.  The improvements also gave the store a new main street updated curb appeal.  Monson’s Garage in Sutton utilized a nearly $2,800 grant for energy efficient polyurethane foam roofing and replacing the interior lights.  The business realized a savings of 64 percent in year one and 70 percent in the second year after project completion.  Greg’s Market in Exeter utilized a more than $11,000 grant to install energy efficient freezers, new compressor units and lighting.  The business realized actual energy savings of 46 percent in year one and 33 percent in the second year after project completion. Read more »

US Forest Service Harnesses Hydropower without Having to Build a Dam

The Spotted Bear Ranger Station at the Flathead National Forest in western Montana generates electricity using micro-hydropower. Like a traditional hydro dam, this small water system converts the energy of flowing water into electricity. When the water level of Addition Creek on the ranger station is adequate, the micro-hydropower system produces enough electricity to supply the entire compound which consists of 31 small buildings. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: USDA Works for Farmers, Sportsmen and the Environment

America’s farmers are among our first and finest conservationists. At USDA, we support their work to protect natural landscapes, improve water and air quality, and preserve wildlife habitat, forests and soil.

In addition to environmental benefits, this work helps drive economic growth and creates good, middle class jobs – particularly in rural communities. Farmers who help the environment improve their bottom line. Fishing, hunting, hiking, boating and other outdoor recreation adds $730 billion to our nation’s economy each year and supports millions of jobs.

That is why President Barack Obama launched his America’s Great Outdoors initiative to help re-connect Americans with the outdoors and create local partnerships focused on the long-term health of our nation’s landscapes. In the past months, as part of that effort, USDA took steps to work with landowners, farmers and ranchers conserving these lands while promoting outdoor recreation opportunities that create jobs and drive economic growth. Read more »