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2011

“We Can’t Wait” to Improve Infrastructure

Today, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced critical investments in our nation’s infrastructure. Specifically, 46 transportation projects in 33 states and Puerto Rico will receive funding that will help support local communities and drive a nation-wide economic recovery.  These grants are steps this Administration is taking now to create jobs, repair our crumbling transportation systems, and make sure our economy continues to grow.

At USDA we are particularly excited about the announcement because $150 million will go to critical projects in rural areas. These investments will help boost economic development and make rural communities more attractive for businesses. Especially in rural areas, our transportation systems have gone too long without repair.  By improving our bridges, transit, freight, and ports, we’ll support agriculture jobs and make trucking of goods faster and more efficient for our farmers and ranchers.

Winter …The Perfect Time to Visit a Farmers Market

Traditionally, the onset of winter meant the end of farmers market season. However, in recent years, winter farmers markets have become increasingly popular. According to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), there are over 1,200 of these farmers markets operating across the country. This is almost a 38 percent increase from last year.

Payroll Tax Cuts - Now is the Time for Congress to Act

We’re getting down to the wire. Congress has until December 31, to pass the Payroll Tax Cut or 160 million Americans will see their taxes go up on January 1st and the typical middle class family will see a tax hike of about $1,000 in 2012.

This isn’t a time for politics.  This payroll tax cut is about the economy and how we can take steps now to get our economy on strong footing.  It will make a real difference to working Americans.  It will help families pay the bills.  And it is the right thing to do.

Renewable Energy: Creating Jobs In Rural Communities

Are there cost effective steps that rural communities can take to attract and grow competitive, sustainable energy-related businesses? That was the central question being examined by visiting members of the Organization for Economic and Community Development (OECD) during a series of meetings this fall hosted by USDA Rural Development in four states.

OECD economists and USDA staff met with state and local officials as well as non-profit research organizations and private businesses in Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Tennessee during October and November. The meetings examined the impact of federal and state investments in renewable energy production and the impact they have had on economic development in rural communities in recent years.

A New Hiring Guide for America's Agricultural Employers

Cross posted from the Department of Labor blog:

Agricultural businesses large and small rely on seasonal workers.  When U.S. workers are not available, employers can utilize the H-2A program to hire temporary foreign workers to perform certain types of agricultural work.

Our Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) is charged by Congress with protecting the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers while also providing a legal means for employers to access foreign workers with critical skills.  OFLC is strengthening America’s economic competitiveness through a foreign labor system that reflects our values and meets employers’ needs.

2012 Ag Outlook Forum: Food Price and Farm Income Outlooks

USDA’s 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum, Feb. 23-24, will present 25 breakout sessions, including the annual Food Price and Farm Income Outlooks.  Economist Richard Volpe with the Economic Research Service (ERS) will discuss USDA’s forecast for food price inflation, including recent historical trends in food expenditure patterns and the relationship between food prices and inflation in the general economy. 

Brazilian Beetles Combat Invasive Species in Hawaii

This month a Brazilian beetle, tested for years by the U.S. Forest Service, is being released in Hawaii to hopefully devourer a non-native fruit known as strawberry guava. Though it sounds delicious, this colorful plant is invading and threatening Hawaii’s native forests and watersheds and has already overtaken hundreds of thousands of acres on the archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

USDA Rural Development Invests in Maine Schools through Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants

USDA Rural Development Maine State Director Virginia Manuel made a major announcement to Region II School of Applied Technology, in Houlton, on Friday. The School received the news that it will benefit from three USDA Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants.

The grant funds will provide access for adult learners in rural Maine to improve their employability and obtain marketable technical skills. This project has three wings, with each wing of this network introducing a new configuration of rural end-users and content providers who will add value to the education network:

New Natural Inquirer World’s Forest Edition

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.

In partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Cradle of Forestry Interpretive Association, the Forest Service is pleased to announce the second Natural Inquirer World’s Forest edition.