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Energy Stakeholders Learn of New Energy Tools, Available Funding, During Meeting in Puerto Rico

Earlier this month, USDA Rural Development Staff in Puerto Rico held an energy stakeholders meeting to present the new online tools available on the revamped Energy Programs website. Also an overview of the projects developed in the island with the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) funds were highlighted throughout the reunion.

The forum moderator was José Otero-García, the State Director for USDA Rural Development in Puerto Rico. The list of attendees include representatives from the banking industry, universities delegates, federal & state government executives, business owners, technical consultants and local ranchers and farmers. Also present at the meeting was the Resident Commissioner in the United States Congress, Honorable Pedro Pierluisi, who offered the greeting remarks and reaffirmed his commitment to support renewable energy initiatives in the island. Read more »

Breakfast in the Classroom Has Dallas Kids Going For the Gold!

Southwest Regional Administrator Bill Ludwig receives a gold medal from Charles Rice Learning Center for being a breakfast champion.

Southwest Regional Administrator Bill Ludwig receives a gold medal from Charles Rice Learning Center for being a breakfast champion.

When I was a kid, my mom used to tell us to eat our breakfast because it’s the most important meal of the day. Well here we are decades later and there are studies that prove kids who aren’t hungry perform much better scholastically. In fact, a recent study from the Food Research and Action Center shows that classroom behavior improves, the number of school tardies is reduced and test scores increase when children eat breakfast. Here in Dallas we’ve made great strides to make it easier for kids to eat a healthy breakfast by making school breakfast available in the classroom in over 60 schools. Read more »

Prescribed Grazing System and Watering Facilities Keep Cattle Farm Running through Drought

Mike Whitis, left, Benton County NRCS district conservationist, and Craig Oliphnant discuss the operation of Oliphnant’s new livestock watering tank.

Mike Whitis, left, Benton County NRCS district conservationist, and Craig Oliphnant discuss the operation of Oliphnant’s new livestock watering tank.

The hot, dry Arkansas summer last year affected cattle farmers across Arkansas. But thanks to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Illinois River Sub-Basin and Eucha-Spavinaw Lake Watershed Initiative, Craig and Jay Oliphnant’s operation has been able to effectively weather the drought. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack Receives Applause for Farm-Grown Renewable Energy at Commodity Classic and Town Hall Broadcast

Earlier this month, Secretary Tom Vilsack received a warm welcome from the record breaking crowd of more than 6,000 farmers, ranchers and farm industry leaders at the General Session of the 2012 Commodity Classic in Nashville. The night before, an audience of more than 250 farmers, conservationists, renewable energy experts, farm-industry leaders and students packed the Secretary’s Town Hall Meeting, “Blueprint for a Rural America Built to Last,” broadcast live on Rural TV with questions coming in from callers in 18 states and a nationwide audience.

Both events included spirited discussion on the future of commodity prices, crop insurance and other details for the next Farm Bill being considered by Congress this year. However, the biggest applause and cheers came at both events when the Secretary answered questions on farm-based renewable energy. Read more »

A Treasured Landscape in Oregon Becomes a Work of Art

Karly Hedrick (l) and Fran Willis (r) admire a quilt in progress. Photo by Maret Pajutee, USFS.

Karly Hedrick (l) and Fran Willis (r) admire a quilt in progress. Photo by Maret Pajutee, USFS.

To date, the Tale of Two Rivers conservation campaign has generated an original microbrew, an annual cycling event, a paint-a-thon and a movie screening.

Now up: a modern quilting bee. Read more »

You’re Invited! “Match Making” in the Biofuels Value Chain at USDA

On March 30th, the Department of Agriculture, is hosting a “match making day” at USDA, to promote connections between agricultural producers of energy feedstocks (and their related businesses) with biorefiners seeking to produce biofuels for commercial sale and consumption. Officials from the U.S. Department of Navy, U.S. Department of Energy, and the Federal Aviation Administration will attend, make presentations and answer questions.

As we move forward as a nation, identifying and implementing an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, there are key relationships that will determine our success in the effort to develop and deploy aviation biofuels.  The objectives of this match making session will be to improve awareness and increase understanding of the biofuels supply-chain links between those involved in feedstock production and the processors of that feedstock into biofuels.  This includes logistical challenges, potential roles of service providers, and potential pitfalls. Read more »