Related Rural Blog Posts
- Posted byon April 13, 2012 at 1:16 PM EDT
Harold "Gus" Frank is being recognized as a Champion of Change for his work demonstrating that corporate environmental leadership makes sense, both for business and for American communities.
The Forest County Potawatomi Community (”FCPC” or the “Tribe”) is guided by a fundamental belief in protecting Mother Earth and ensuring that future generations will have access to clean air, water and land. This philosophy has led FCPC to become an environmentally proactive tribe and take a pragmatic approach to ecological stewardship.
Over the past several years, FCPC has implemented a number of energy efficiency initiatives to significantly lower its energy usage and reduce its carbon emissions. Since 2007, the Tribe has reduced its energy usage per gross square foot by 12 percent and reduced their corresponding carbon emissions by more than 20 percent. These efficiencies have significantly lowered both the Tribe’s energy costs and its environmental footprint. It has eliminated more than 14,400 tons of emitted carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 2,560 passenger vehicles, or the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of 1,630 homes for one year.
- Posted byon April 13, 2012 at 9:58 AM EDT
Since taking office, President Obama has been committed to an all-of-the-above approach that expands production of American energy resources. Already, there are signs that this strategy is making an impact. Last year, domestic oil production reached the highest level in nearly a decade. Imports of foreign oil fell to the lowest level in 16 years. We’re producing more natural gas than at any time in our history. Since 2008, renewable energy generation from sources like wind, solar, and geothermal has nearly doubled. And the Obama Administration has supported the first nuclear power plant in thirty years.
Strengthening the domestic biofuels industry has been another critical component of this overall strategy. And today, U.S. biofuel production is at its highest level in history. In fact, average monthly production increased more than 40 percent between 2008 and 2011. That means more jobs – especially in rural America – and greater energy security.
At USDA, we continue to support cutting-edge efforts to reduce America’s reliance on fossil fuel. For example, earlier this month, USDA announced approval of a $5 million payment to Western Plains Energy, LLC to support the construction of a biogas anaerobic digester in Oakley, KS. The completed project will utilize waste energy resources from a local cattle feedlot to replace almost 90 percent of the fossil fuels currently used by Western Plains Energy. In Blairstown, Iowa, USDA funding will be used to construct a 55,000 square foot facility that will produce cellulosic ethanol by converting municipal solid waste and other industrial pulps into advanced biofuels, as well as using conventional renewable biofuel derived from seed corn waste. When operational, the facility is expected to produce approximately 3.6 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year. Support for renewable energy projects such as these is an example of the many ways USDA is helping revitalize rural economies.
- Posted byon April 12, 2012 at 12:14 PM EDT
Chad and Jodi Ray are being recognized as Champions of Change for their work demonstrating that corporate environmental leadership makes sense, both for business and for American communities.
You want children and their parents to value the family farm lifestyle and farmers? We must educate, educate, and educate some more why sustainable farming is so important to our world food supply.
Ray Family Farms of Bunn, NC markets their products directly to the consumer. We produce Animal Welfare Approved beef, pork and eggs. We also grow vegetables and raise poultry. The only family farmer poultry processor in our state is not AWA approved -- that is the only reason our poultry is not. We raise delicious, healthy, and nutritious food from “conception to consumption.” Other than animal welfare, our farm is very committed to educating our customers and community, promoting environmental stewardship, and utilizing wildlife enhanced farmland.
The history of our family’s roots here in Franklin County, NC are as deep as a 200’ pine tree. The history of our farm however is not. It is less than 35 years old. Our parents' generation was really the first to ever accumulate land assets. We come from a long line of “dirt” farmers -- dirt farmers were all the people around here who lived off the land. All of their income and the food they ate came from the patch of land they were working. Most of the time that involved working other peoples' land -- sharecropping. My mother and her family moved 14 times in 16 years while she grew up as a sharecropper. Our parents will leave us our farm that was purchased in our lifetime. That is a very powerful responsibility knowing our ancestors worked hundreds of years to give us the opportunity to make something great out of a farm handed down to us.
- Posted byon April 6, 2012 at 3:04 PM EDT
Yesterday, the White House Rural Council hosted a Native American Food and Agriculture Roundtable Discussion, bringing together tribal leaders and experts on Native American agricultural economic development with Administration officials from the White House Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Council on Environmental Quality, and federal agency partners including the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Commerce, Treasury, and the Small Business Administration.
The White House Rural Council was established by an Executive Order of President Obama in June 2011. The Rural Council, chaired by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, is dedicated to creating jobs and fostering economic development in Rural America. This is an all hands on deck approach - to accomplish this goal of growing the rural economy, the President appointed 14 Cabinet Members to the Council. In August 2011, the Council hosted the White House Native American Business Leaders Roundtable, which provided officials an opportunity to hear from Native American business leaders and policy experts about ways we can work together to improve economic conditions and create jobs in tribal communities.
The Native American Agriculture and Food Roundtable served as a forum for leaders and experts to contribute ideas for fostering community and agricultural economic development with a particular focus on Leasing, Technical Assistance, Strategic Business Planning and Access to Capital, Credit and other Financial Resources. These topics were chosen because of their importance for agricultural economic growth in Rural America and Indian Country. The White House Rural Council convened this roundtable to gather information and ideas to help us identify administrative barriers and explore opportunities to foster food and agricultural opportunities in Indian Country.
- Posted byon March 29, 2012 at 12:15 PM EDT
Doctors, teachers, lawyers, priests, like many other professionals, set about on course of academic preparation for their lifetime careers. For me as a wife and mother, I worked to help put my husband through college, with second consideration for my academic course of study in accounting. It was through my fortuitous meeting with the then President of the Board of Directors of Tierra del Sol Housing Corporation who encouraged me to come to work at Tierra del Sol that I started on my profession as Executive Director of a then local nonprofit organization, which provided housing opportunities on an otherwise disenfranchised and yet critically important sector to our local agricultural community, the farmworkers and the working poor.
There was no real academic course of study to prepare me for the many challenges and problems that I would encounter during the past 31 years. It was in the trenches that I learned the lessons of community work and with it gained the tenacity and passion for my work. Decades later, in reflecting my experiences, I chuckle when I think about coming from an office setting to trudging through the desert sands of construction sites in my Italian shoes. I was a female working in a male dominated construction field and I too had the additional challenge of proving myself in that environment. It’s been a good race and it is an honor to be recognized as a “Champion of Change” by the White House. I am truly honored and humbled by this award. It has been my privilege to have found my passion and to serve the people of New Mexico. I have also been blessed to have the support of so many dedicated leaders from our local communities who recognize the economic and social needs of people in rural areas of our states along the international border corridor between the United States and Mexico. My success is beholding to the people who have come to belief that collectively, we can effect change and can bring significant improvements to the lives of our clients.
- Posted byon March 29, 2012 at 12:13 PM EDT
I am honored to be named a "Champion of Change," particularly during the week that lifts up individuals who honor Cesar Chavez’s core values of service, knowledge, innovation, acceptance of all people, and respect for life and the environment. I first learned of Cesar Chavez and the farmworker movement the year that Chavez died. During that spring of 1993, I was studying theology at Duke Divinity School and looking for a summer internship. I found that my previous internships working primarily with homeless women in MS, MO, DE, and NC proved critical to my understanding of the root causes of poverty, my ability to build relationships directly with homeless individuals, and my interest in working for social and economic justice.
I learned about the work and ideals of Cesar Chavez that summer during an internship with Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF), but I also learned a lot more. I learned about my own white, working class community in the Mississippi Delta, about my dad’s experiences sharecropping in the Delta, as well as about how my grandparents had been able to purchase the land I grew up on through a New Deal program that allowed sharecroppers to become farm owners.
One of the roles that Student Action with Farmworkers plays is supporting young people to explore their own family and community’s history, as well as to learn alternative views and stories of history—primarily told by those that are marginalized in our communities. For SAF this means sharing with young people the history of agriculture in the US, how this history connects to larger issues of class, race, and globalization, and the stories of those most oppressed in the agricultural system—farmworkers.