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On the Eve of a White House Conference, Tribal Leaders Meet at USDA

Earlier today, I joined Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and other top USDA officials here at the Agriculture Department for the Second USDA Tribal Leaders Listening Session.  The leaders are in Washington for tomorrow’s White House Conference, called by President Obama because he is very serious about the need for the federal government to honor and respect our trust responsibilities to Native communities.

During an invocation at the start of today’s event, Dr. Ted Mala, physician and director of tribal relations at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage said that the USDA “takes care of our weakest people, rural people, who cannot be here today…give them strength.”

A USDA Funded Water Treatment Plant Expansion Sets the Stage for Roland, Oklahoma’s Future

The Town of Roland, Oklahoma is located just 5 miles from the Arkansas border in extreme east central Oklahoma. Roland has the tools we need for growth, but economic development cannot happen without planning and a vision for the future. The new water treatment plant expansion will set the stage for Roland’s future.

Elmo Visits the White House Kitchen

Cross-posted from the White House Blog:

On Monday, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act into law.  This legislation is an important step forward toward ensuring that no child goes to school hungry and that all children have access to healthy, nutritious foods at school.

Earlier this week, Elmo visited Assistant White House Chef Sam Kass in the White House kitchen to talk about the importance of healthy and delicious school meals. Check out the video below.

Local Food Hub Brings It All Together

A core component of any food hub is making sure that products can get from the farm to the table, a complex task involving perishable goods, cold storage, varying scales of supply and demand, and, of course, the occasional flat tire.

A number of food hubs have taken this challenge on utilizing diverse approaches, including a particularly impressive non-profit organization in Charlottesville, Virginia: Local Food Hub.  Directed by the entrepreneurial Kate Collier and Marisa Vrooman, it is addressing three major issues in the local food system: distribution, supply and access.

Look Who's Speaking at the Forum-It's an All-Star Cast

Another impeccable line-up of speakers, led by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, has been announced for the 2011 Agricultural Outlook Forum. Titled “Today’s Strategies & Tomorrow’s Opportunities,” the Forum will be held February 24-25, 2011, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.  The Plenary Panel speakers include:

Moderator—Christine Cochran, President, Commodity Markets Council; Nariman Behravesh, Chief Economist, IHS Global Insight on Critical Issues Shaping the Global Economic Outlook; Charles Whitman, Founder and CEO, Infinium Capital Management on Electronic Trading and the Globalization of Grain Markets; Pete Nessler, President, FCStone, LLC on A Brokerage Firm’s Approach to Risk Management; Michael Copps, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission on Opening the Internet to the Rural Community.

Historic Kansas Hotel Converted to Residential Use with USDA Rural Development Support

About 85 years ago, the leaders and generous residents of Pittsburg, Kansas rallied to build the Besse Hotel in the city’s quickly developing downtown district.  The structure was a 13-story grand dame that catered to business travelers and visitors for decades with a grand ballroom, upscale restaurant as well as beautiful guest rooms.

However, after more than 50 years, the structure fell into disrepair and became a blight on Pittsburg’s downtown.

Getting to Scale with Regional Food Hubs

Here at USDA we are looking for ways that we can help build and strengthen regional and local food systems.  As we talk to farmers, producers, consumers, processors, retailers, buyers and everyone else involved in regional food system development, we hear more and more about small and mid-sized farmers struggling to get their products to market quickly and efficiently.  And more and more we hear that these same producers need access to things like trucks, warehouses, processing space, and storage.  These things require capital investment, infrastructure maintenance and dedicated oversight – things that small and mid-sized producers often can’t afford or manage themselves.

One answer to help regional producers may be a ”food hub.”

NWRC Receives 2010 Colorado Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research

APHIS' National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) recently received the 2010 Colorado Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research for its development of the GonaConTM Immunocontraceptive Vaccine (GonaCon).  The award was one of four given to Colorado-based labs for their cutting-edge research with global impact. The Colorado state Chief Operating Officer Don Elliman presented the award to NWRC’s Dr. Lowell Miller during a banquet hosted by CO-LABS. CO-LABS is a consortium of research universities, businesses, state and local governments and economic development councils with a mission to educate the public about the value of Colorado's 24 federal research labs.

‘Tis the Season for Cut Christmas Trees

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 USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

With the holiday season upon us, many people across the United States are out and about shopping for the perfect Christmas tree to deck their halls with holiday cheer. Sales of cut Christmas trees remain a large part of the U.S. horticulture industry as Americans continue to uphold the holiday tradition of fresh, cut trees – from the White House to state capitals across the United States, the smell of pine is vibrant this time of year.