Earlier this month (April 17th) Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA chief scientist and Under Secretary for USDA’s Research, Education and Economics mission area, facilitated a White House Rural Council roundtable meeting at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) in Mason City, Iowa.
One of the key topics of discussion during the roundtable, which was attended by more than 40 local business owners and students, focused on the variety of ways community colleges can help create new job opportunities, especially in rural areas.
One week before her visit to NIACC, USDA announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the American Association of Community Colleges that highlights a key White House Rural Council goal to expand access to training and higher education for rural citizens and strengthen the rural economy. Read more »
A classroom floor becomes a garden as 2nd graders at Hiawatha Elementary in Webster, Iowa decide which of their favorite fruits and vegetables will be planted in their school garden. Gathered in anticipation around a rectangle that represents the actual size of the garden bed, their teacher skillfully guides the planning, helping them consider which plants will thrive in Iowa’s climate, which plants require more or less sun, and which plants will be compatible neighbors.
Along the way, the teacher introduces math concepts – deftly integrating her classroom lessons into a real world experience. Soon the students will be planting this garden for real – just as they have planned it – as will 4,000 other youth in 57 schools in Iowa, Arkansas, New York and Washington participating in Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth (HGHY), a project of the People’s Garden School Pilot Project. Read more »
Like everyone involved in the trade mission to China, I’m excited for the opportunity to be a part of the USDA delegation and join Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse as he leads this historic trip. Not only is China a vital agricultural trading partner for the United States, it is also a particularly important market for agricultural exporters in my home state of Iowa.
(From left to right) Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, and Oklahoma Agriculture Secretary Jim Reese speak at an American Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Shanghai, China on March 27. This was one stop on USDA’s largest-ever trade mission, which took place in China March 23-28. Scuse led the trade mission delegation, which included 39 U.S. companies and representatives from six state departments of agriculture. Photo Credit: Eric Ma
This trip couldn’t come at a better time. It follows the extremely successful high-level U.S.-China Agricultural Symposium, which was held in Des Moines last month. Iowa was honored to welcome Chinese Vice Premier Xi Jinping, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and China’s Agriculture Minister Han Changfu, and to help solidify the strong relationship between our countries. Read more »
Mention to folks that federal agencies work well together and you may receive reactions of disbelief. Sometimes the federal employees, themselves, don’t believe it. But there was a roomful of believers at a recent USDA Rural Roundtable held in Ogden, Iowa.
Iowa USDA Rural Development State Director Bill Menner (center, seated) and other federal officials, hold a roundtable meeting in Ogden, Iowa.
I held more than 40 roundtables across rural Iowa last year, modeled after the roundtables of the White House Business Council and the White House Rural Council. These roundtables provided a great opportunity to talk with rural residents, business owners and leaders about the issues facing their communities – and the opportunities that exist. 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 »