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Reminder: Nomination Period for FSA County Committees Opens June 15

The Farm Service Agency will begin accepting nominations for local county committees beginning Wednesday, June 15. The nomination period — which runs through Aug. 1 — allows farmers and ranchers to nominate themselves or others as candidates to sit on the local county committee and help make important agricultural decisions.

Secretary Vilsack is urging all farmers and ranchers, especially minority and women producers, to take part in this year’s county committee elections by nominating candidates by the August 1 deadline. County committees are an important link between the farm community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and give landowners, farmers and ranchers a better chance of having their opinions and ideas heard. If county committees are to reflect the diversity of the communities they serve, minority and women farmers must take time to get involved by nominating themselves or a candidate they feel will represent their interests. Read more »

Black Hills of South Dakota Hosts Second White House Business Roundtable

Officials from USDA met with business leaders in Rapid City, South Dakota to seek their input on ways federal, state and local officials can help improve economic conditions and create jobs.  The session was the second White House Business Council meeting held; the first was held in Missouri.  The meeting was hosted by Kristi Wagner, Program Developer with South Dakota Rural Enterprise, Inc. and facilitated by Jonathan Adelstein, Administrator of USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service, and a member of the White House Business Council on Winning the Future.

Adelstein said, “We heard really a lot of good advice from business leaders that are skilled in creating jobs in South Dakota. They’re sometimes frustrated with the government, they’re sometimes very happy about ways the government has helped them to succeed. And we’re trying to learn from the good things, we’re trying to streamline and get the bureaucracy out of the way and make sure regulation doesn’t inhibit job growth.”  Adelstein says White House officials will leave Washington and reach out to the business leaders in every state by the middle of June. Read more »

Miles of Green: A Century’s Legacy

Scientists study a satellite image in efforts to promote the Chesapeake Bay’s health.” (Photo by ARS)

Scientists study a satellite image in efforts to promote the Chesapeake Bay’s health.” (Photo by ARS)

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. Read more »

With USDA Support, Indiana Company Begins Wind Study

Petoskey Plastics, owners of a Blackford County-based plastics recycling and manufacturing facility, completed installation last week of a Meteorological (MET) tower at its Hartford City location.  The MET tower will measure wind speed, velocity and direction, as well as provide the first precise wind information in Blackford County.  The information will also allow Petoskey Plastics to evaluate the feasibility of wind power as a possible source of energy for its Hartford City operations.

With assistance from the Blackford County Economic Development Corporation, Petoskey Plastics applied for and received funding for the wind power feasibility study through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development.  Petoskey Plastics was one of 68 recipients nationwide chosen to receive study grants. Read more »

Cochran and Borlaug Fellowship Program Alumni Gather in Zambia

Following his two weeks of Cochran Program training in North Carolina with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS), Chiluba Mwape was able to develop a pest list for Zambia.  This has enabled the nation to conduct pest risk assessments for several Zambian fruits and vegetables—the only country in southern Africa to be able to do so. Dr. Precious Hamukwale, a professor at the University of Zambia, says her agribusiness training under the Borlaug Program has helped her to assist Zambian businesswomen to better explore their potential.  Mwape and Hamukwale are among 20 Zambian alumni of the USDA’s Cochran and Borlaug Fellowship Programs who spoke about how their training in the United States inspired them to make a difference in fellow citizens’ lives.  Read more »

USDA Assists with Import Requirements for Royal Gift

It’s not unusual for devoted gardeners to share favorite plants and seeds with each other, even across international borders.  When doing so, it’s extremely important that these items don’t harbor pests or diseases that could harm other plants or the environment.  While the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Export Services staff mainly deals with commercial shipments, occasionally, we assist amateur gardeners with exchanging items internationally.

Last month I had the wonderful opportunity to help a noted Washington, D.C. couple, who are avid gardeners, take a special gift to their hosts across the Atlantic Ocean.  During their May visit to the United Kingdom,  President and Mrs. Obama presented Prince Charles of Wales and his wife Camilla, with a selection of  34 different types of plants and seeds from the gardens of Mount Vernon, Monticello and the White House. Read more »