With Nevada USDA Rural Development State Director Sarah Adler as his side-kick, Agriculture Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager hit the trail earlier this month in Nevada, kicking off a major job-creating clean energy announcement, meeting with business owners and talking to ranchers severely challenged by the drought.
Tonsager kicked off his trip with a news conference to announce a loan guarantee to Fulcrum Sierra BioFuels to build an advanced biofuels refinery in northern Nevada. The refinery will convert 147,000 tons of municipal solid waste into more than 10 million gallons of advanced biofuels each year, creating 430 jobs during construction and over 50 permanent jobs.
He met with state agency representatives interested in capitalizing Nevada small business projects, and met with a USDA Business and Industry loan guarantee recipient – a manufacturer who recently attended a White House conference on manufacturing. Read more »
From left: Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, Congressman Mark Schauer, Center for Family Health Executive Director Molly Kaser and State Director for Michigan Rural Development James Turner discuss the new health center.
Yesterday I accompanied Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, State Director for Michigan Rural Development James Turner and Congressman Mark Schauer on a visit to the Center for Family Health (CFH) in Jackson, a city about 30 miles south of Lansing. Read more »
The Department of Agriculture is a big institution, with a $149 billion budget and 114,000 employees. When Secretary Vilsack asked me to spearhead the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, my first impulse wasn’t to create new programs and authorities, but rather to figure out how better to use the resources at hand. Of course, I was aware of certain USDA programs that have, for years, focused on local food, such as the Farmers Market Promotion Program within the Agricultural Marketing Service. I was also aware that Congress, as part of the 2008 farm bill, took new interest in local foods by, for example, directing that USDA set aside 5% of funding to promote local foods within the Business and Industry Loan Program in the Rural Business and Cooperative Service. Finally, I knew many existing USDA programs, while not dedicated to local food, could be harnessed to better support local and regional food systems. Read more »