Last month, hundreds of people from around the world gathered in Des Moines, Iowa, to honor this year’s World Food Prize Laureate, Dr. Daniel Hillel, for his pioneering scientific work in micro-irrigation. His drip technology revolutionized the way farmers watered crops and increased food production in the arid regions of the Middle East and other parts of the world for the past five decades.
Dr. Hillel’s recognition inspired many in attendance including Dr. Rajashekhara Rao Korada, a senior scientist from India currently in the United States for the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program, a program named in honor of the “Father of the Green Revolution.” During his 12-week fellowship at Louisiana State University, he’s studying pest management strategies for sweet potato crops. Read more »
Last week was a momentous one for U.S.-China agricultural relations. In addition to the productive meetings that took place in Washington and Des Moines, I was honored to witness the signing of an agreement between the U.S. soybean industry and Chinese buyers who agreed to purchase more than 8.6 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans in the coming year. That’s about $4.3 billion worth of soybeans, or 317 million bushels.
The signing of that purchase agreement represents another very important milestone in the U.S.-China trade relationship, a relationship that continues to grow and flourish – in large part thanks to agricultural trade. Last fiscal year, for the first time ever, China was the number one market for U.S. food and agricultural exports. And it was also the top market, by far, for U.S. soybeans. In fact, China purchased nearly 60 percent of the U.S. soybeans sold internationally last year. Read more »
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to facilitate a meeting with many rural energy stakeholders that USDA Rural Development works closely with here in Iowa.
Joining me in the discussion were representatives from the Environmental Law and Policy Center, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, MidAmerican Energy, USDA Farm Service Agency, Community Vitality Center at Iowa State University, the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and many more.
Also in attendance were representatives from Senator Tom Harkin’s and Congressman Leonard Boswell’s offices. Senator Harkin helped draft the original Energy Title in the 2002 Farm Bill. Read more »
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack moderated a roundtable discussion on “Sharing Agricultural Knowledge to Drive Sustainable Growth” at the World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, on October 13. Seated from left to right are Secretary Tom Vilsack, Ghanaian Agriculture Minister Kwesi Ahwoi, Tanzanian Agriculture Minister Jumanne Maghembe, Mozambican Agriculture Minister José Pacheco, and Director General-elect of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations José Graziano da Silva. Credit: World Food Prize/Jim Heemstra
Last week, 40 Borlaug Fellows from 21 countries as far away as Azerbaijan and Zambia were in Des Moines, Iowa, to attend the Borlaug International Symposium and World Food Prize ceremony. Accompanying them were 16 mentors—professors, scientists, and researchers—from U.S. land-grant universities and international research centers, as well as public, private, and non-profit organizations. These Fellows and their mentors are part of the Norman E. Borlaug Agricultural Science and Technology Fellows Program established by USDA in 2004 to honor Nobel Laureate Norman E. Borlaug. Read more »
More than 1,300 community developers from 47 states converged on Des Moines, Iowa, this week to attend the 2011 National Main Streets Conference organized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
A key theme repeated during the conference illustrated how communities with healthy Main Street districts are two steps ahead in the race to create and retain jobs.
In small towns all across the country, downtown is typically two or three blocks of businesses run by familiar faces, a place where one knows who is at the local diner by the cars and trucks sitting outside. Ensuring these districts remain vibrant many times requires a significant investment in buildings, capital and infrastructure, often financed through USDA Rural Development. Read more »
This week I had the pleasure of meeting with representatives from eight German companies who are in Iowa to learn more the approach to biofuels in the US, and specifically in Iowa. Read more »