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Posts tagged: White House Rural Council

Secretary’s Column: USDA’s Accomplishments in 2012

Over the course of 2012, farm families and rural communities faced a number of challenges. A record drought impacted much of the country and many were impacted by a major hurricane, flooding and severe storms. However, thanks to the resilience of rural Americans, our communities are still going strong.

Over the course of this year, USDA continued our record efforts to help folks across our nation, and I am proud of the work we carried out.

We supported agriculture. This summer, USDA convened the White House Rural Council to help America’s farmers and ranchers overcome drought. We provided unique flexibility for crop insurance that saved producers more than $20 million, expanded emergency lending for producers, opened more than 2.8 million acres of conservation land for emergency forage and more. Read more »

Bringing Federal Partners to the Local Foods Table

Three years ago this fall, Secretary Vilsack and I launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative (KYF2).  Since then, we’ve seen interest and participation in local and regional food systems grow beyond anything we expected: whether I’m meeting with buffalo ranchers from the Great Plains or with members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I hear about efforts to connect producers and consumers locally and interest in how USDA can help.

In meetings of the White House Rural Council, which has representatives from across the federal government, regional food systems have been a key part of discussions. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Our Ongoing Commitment to Help Drought-Stricken Farmers and Ranchers

As drought continues to affect most of the country, our thoughts and prayers are with the thousands of farm families who have been affected by this disaster.

Earlier this summer the U.S. Department of Agriculture acted quickly to open conservation programs for emergency haying and grazing, lowered the interest rate for emergency loans, and worked with crop insurance companies to provide more flexibility to farmers.

On August 7, President Obama once again convened his White House Rural Council and announced several new measures the Administration is taking to help those impacted by the drought. Read more »

Our Response to the 2012 Drought; SBA Recovery Assistance Available in Rural America

Cross posted from the Small Business Administration Blog:

Today, I attended a meeting of the White House Rural Council, which focused on our coordinated response to historic drought conditions that are affecting communities across Rural America.

Our goal at the SBA and across the Administration is making sure that these hard hit communities have the tools and the resources they need to navigate and recover from these severe drought conditions.

To date, the SBA has issued 71 agency drought declarations in 32 states covering more than 1,630 counties. These declarations allow small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and non-farm small businesses that are economically affected by the drought in their community to apply for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Read more »

Helping Communities Diversify Their Energy Sources

A truck is filled with wood chips as part of the process of turning wood into energy

A truck is filled with wood chips as part of the process of turning wood into energy

Cross posted from the White House CEQ blog:

Across rural America, biomass like wood pellets and wood chips is helping communities diversify their energy sources, create jobs, and save money on utility bills. At the Forest Service, we are working to support biomass projects that help us manage wildfire threats, and also serve as economic engines for rural communities. Last week, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced grants of $4 million for renewable wood energy projects that will provide 20 small businesses, tribes and community groups with the technical engineering and design services they need to explore installing wood heat and electricity projects. Read more »

Forest Service Announces $4 Million for Alternative-Energy Projects

The U.S. Forest Service recently announced nearly $4 million in grants to help develop affordable woody biomass energy in rural communities. The facilities will use wood pellets such as those pictured here. Thinkstock

The U.S. Forest Service recently announced the award of nearly $4 million in grants for wood energy projects around the country to help expand regional economies and create new jobs. The grants, totaling $3.9 million, will be distributed to 20 small businesses, tribes and community groups to develop renewable energy projects. Read more »