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January 2011

New Dietary Guidelines Urge Consumers to Enjoy Food, but watch Calories In, Calories Out

Today I had the honor to join the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius to release the 2010 Dietary Guidelines – a science-based roadmap to give busy individuals, moms and dads the information to make thoughtful choices for themselves and their families. It was inspiring to see so many young people in the audience, followed by important health and nutrition questions from George Washington University students.

FSA Administrator Stresses Importance of New CRP Sign-Up to Preserve Habitat and Protect Soil from Runoff

Speaking to a packed house at Pheasant Fest in Omaha last week, Farm Service Administrator Jonathan Coppess praised the accomplishments of a lengthy and highly successful partnership between Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Pheasants Forever organization — a partnership that revolves around the success of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

How successful is CRP? According to Coppess, since its inception 25 years ago, CRP acres have resulted in an 8 billion ton reduction in soil erosion, restoration of 2 million acres of wetlands and adjacent buffers, vegetative protection of more than 200,000 stream bank buffers, significant increases in upland wildlife numbers which translates to recreational dollars for many rural economies.

Custom-Built Tax Resources for Farmers and Ranchers

Farming isn’t easy.  It’s a seven-days-a-week job that requires a diverse set of skills, long hours, and some luck with the weather.  It’s with this in mind that the National Farm Income Tax Extension Committee recently created, an online tool that provides agricultural producers with a source for agriculturally related income and self-employment tax information that is both easy to understand and continually updated to reflect changes in tax laws.

The Committee has a 50-plus year history of working with the IRS to edit Publication 225: The Farmer’s Tax Guide. It’s comprised of representatives from more than 12 land-grant universities around the country, who realized the need to partner with USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) to provide more information for farmers about Federal taxes. We at RMA are dedicated to providing useful tools for farmers to access crucial information and are proud to have provided support for the website.

Rural Development Maine State Director Says USDA is Leading the Way in Renewable Energy Development Efforts

The Maine Wind Energy Conference entitled Maine’s Wind Energy Future: New Opportunities, New Challenges, was held at the Augusta Civic Center on January 24 and 25. As State Director I was asked to address a crowd of nearly 200 stakeholders in Maine’s energy future, giving a keynote in which I addressed USDA Rural Development’s vital role as a leader in the future of renewable energy development in Maine and across the country.

USDA Removes Two New York Townships from Regulation for Golden Nematode

By itself, it would have been great news when USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently announced the absence of golden nematode in the townships of Elba and Byron in Genesee County, New York, and removed these areas from regulation.  APHIS and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets have been working together since 1944 on an aggressive survey, quarantine, and control program to combat one of the world’s most damaging potato pests from the State.  The success in these townships demonstrates the effectiveness and importance of these continuing cooperative efforts.

President Obama Visits Wisconsin Manufacturers Revitalized with USDA Loan Guarantee Support

President Barack Obama visited three businesses in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, this week on the heels of the State of the Union address. The main event was his address to the employees of Orion Energy Systems Inc.

Orion designs and produces energy management systems consisting primarily of high-performance, energy efficient lighting systems and controls. Their core line is a high intensity fluorescent lighting system that produces twice the quantity of lighting at one-half the electricity usage compared to standard lighting systems. The company also manufactures solar day-lighting products and distributes solar light tubes.

USDA-Ready to Assist America’s Rural Communities With State-of-the-Art Broadband Services

During his State of the Union address earlier this week, President Obama outlined a vision for the future that calls on America to “Out innovate, out educate, and out build the rest of the world.”  A crucial contributor to this effort, as the President recognized, is rural broadband.  USDA is funding the deployment of broadband systems across the country, and we want to help your community as well.

Know Your Farmer, Help a Refugee, Meet a Neighbor

What does USDA have to do with supporting refugees? What do refugees contribute to our food systems here in the United States? The answers become clear when you look at a unique partnership between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program (RAPP), USDA, and Agricultural Extension agents.

Celebrating the Western Regional Office Summer Sunshine Award Winners!

Cross posted from the Let's Move! blog:

Summer Food Service Program – in the middle of winter?

That question is a common one when we talk about the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). During the school year, many children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch through the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs. What happens when school lets out? Hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning process. The Summer Food Service Program is designed to fill that nutrition gap and make sure children can get the nutritious meals they need.