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Inaugural US Forest Service International Seminar on Forest Landscape Restoration Held in Oregon

This blog post was co-authored with Aaron Reuben (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and Kathleen Buckingham (World Resources Institute).

Four billion acres of degraded and deforested land world-wide—an area the size of South America—could benefit from restoration. Restoration addresses our most pressing global challenges—from protecting biodiversity to providing food, energy and water, to offering security and economic opportunity for millions of people.

In the United States, a multitude of partners from all sectors, from the local to national level, initiated restoration on millions of acres of degraded land, but the United States cannot do it alone. Degradation is a global issue that requires a global response. This summer, landscape restoration professionals from 16 countries, representing government ministries, non-governmental organizations and private companies, gathered in Oregon to learn from the United States’ experience.

Hawaiian Canoe Carries Pledge of Conservation Around the World

On May 30, the double-hulled voyaging canoe Hōkūle‘a set sail from the Hawaiian Islands on a more than 50,000-mile, 26-country journey around the world. The crew’s mission: to spread the word about the importance of world conservation.

The dual-masted, 62-foot Hōkūle‘a, along with her escort the voyaging canoe Hikianalia, will travel to Tahiti, New Zealand, Indonesia, South Africa around Cape Horn, Brazil and Florida, and through the Panama Canal before heading to Rapa Nui (Easter Island). At Rapa Nui, younger crewmembers will take the helm and sail back to Hawaii.

Hawaiian Agriculture Remains Unique

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

Hawaii may have only 7,000 farms, but our farming community is truly special and unique. For example, it is the only state in the United States where farmers grow taro, pineapples for commercial sales, and coffee. And if having such unique commodities isn’t enough, it is also the state that has the largest percentage of farmers and ranchers participating in renewable energy projects, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. More than 18 percent of our farms produce their own renewable energy on their farms.

The island environment is conducive to renewable energy production. Hawaii has abundant sunshine and steady trade winds which are favorable for investing in renewable energy systems.  As a result many farms can set up photovoltaic panels and windmills to convert the sun and the wind to electricity.

Helping Small Businesses Make a Trade Impact

Recently, USDA announced that U.S. agricultural exports for fiscal year 2013 finished at another record level, continuing the strongest five-year period for such exports in our nation’s history. Much of this success is due to small businesses, which Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack noted are the backbone of the economy in rural communities, small towns and big cities.

USDA’s efforts with small businesses is helped by the work of four State Regional Trade Groups – coalitions of state departments of agriculture – that use USDA market development program funds to provide support for about 30,000 companies annually.

Forest Service International Programs lauded by Secretary of State

During the recent annual Comprehensive Partnership meeting in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Indonesian Foreign Minister Natalegawa applauded recent initiatives supported by the U.S. Forest Service’s International Programs, including forest governance, environmental impact assessment, climate change mitigation, and the sustainable management of forests.

International Programs draws on the expertise of the entire agency to promote sustainable forest management overseas and to bring important technologies and innovations back to the U.S.  Through International Programs, the Forest Service advocates for U.S. interests abroad by engaging with numerous governmental and non-governmental partners to share best practices on a range of conservation issues.

The U.S. Comprehensive Partnership is a long-term commitment between the United States and Indonesia to broaden, deepen and elevate bilateral relations. Officials from both countries consult regularly on issues such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, climate change and the spread of communicable diseases.

USDA Trade Missions Rack Up Millions in Sales for U.S. Businesses

Under the Obama Administration, USDA has continued to expand markets for American goods abroad, worked aggressively to break down barriers to trade, and assisted U.S. businesses with the resources needed to reach consumers around the world. And by organizing and executing agricultural trade missions, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is helping U.S. businesses reach the 95-percent of consumers who live outside the United States.

USDA Council of Chefs Whip up Tasty Dishes with a Touch of Indonesian Flair

Take a large amount of U.S. fruits and vegetables, mix in a group of chefs with a flair for Asian cuisine, add a dash of creativity and what do you get? An amazing array of dishes created as part of the annual USDA Council of Chefs (CoC) Train the Trainer Program in Jakarta, Indonesia. The training was conducted by Chef Mike Fleming, director of the School of Baking Technology at CerealTech in Singapore. The CoC is a group of Indonesian chefs with different culinary backgrounds including nutritionist and author Edwin Handoyo Lauwy (Chef Edwin Lau), hot kitchen chef Muchtar Alamsyah (Chef Tatang), and baking and pastry chefs Ucu Sawitri and Haryanto Makmoer.

Down on the Farm with Indonesia’s Vice Minister of Agriculture

On Monday, I had the honor of hosting Indonesia’s Vice Minister of Agriculture Bayu Krisnamurthi at my 1,700-acre corn, soybean, and wheat farm in Smyrna, Delaware. This opportunity is a direct result of my visit last month to Jakarta where I led 18 U.S. companies on an Agribusiness Trade and Investment Mission. When Vice Minister Bayu told me he would be traveling to the United States this month, I invited him to visit my farm. He warmly accepted my invitation.

The United States and Indonesia are strong allies and trade between us continues to grow. In November 2010, President Obama and President Yudhoyono formally launched the U.S.-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership. Through this partnership, both of our countries are looking to expand trade and investment and commercial relationships, creating tremendous possibilities for economic development and cooperation.

U.S. Soybeans Benefit Indonesian Tempeh and Tofu Producers

This is the third in a series of three blogs affiliated with USDA’s Agribusiness Trade and Investment Mission, which was led by Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse.

While leading this week’s Agribusiness Trade and Investment Mission to Indonesia, I’ve been gratified to see firsthand how U.S. food and agricultural products are benefitting the Indonesian people. My itinerary included a visit to a tempeh and tofu production compound, or village, in the Cipayung neighborhood of East Jakarta, where local workers are using U.S. soybeans to produce nutritious, affordable, high-quality food products.

U.S. Fresh Produce Industry Building Strong Trade Relationships in Indonesia

This is the second in a series of three blogs affiliated with USDA’s Agribusiness Trade and Investment Mission, which was led by Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse.

For years, it’s been my privilege to help bring U.S. fresh fruits and vegetables to the grocery stores, restaurant menus and dinner tables of Indonesian consumers.

I represent groups within the U.S. produce industry who export agricultural goods to Indonesia. They include the Washington Apple Commission, the California Table Grape Commission and the Pear Bureau Northwest, all of which have found success in the Indonesian market.