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USDA Continues Farm Bill Implementation with Provisions to Help Farmers Manage Risk

Department Announces New Beginning Farmer Benefits, Other Changes to Crop Insurance that Provide Flexibility to Farmers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced continued progress in implementing provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill that provide new risk management options for farmers and ranchers. These improvements to crop insurance programs will provide better protection from weather disaster, market volatility and other risk factors to ensure farmers aren't wiped out by events beyond their control.


Pennsylvania’s Shale Gas: Examining the Boom and Bust Cycle

The shale gas development that has vaulted Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale formation to the top of current U.S. natural gas production has raised concerns that local governments might be entering a “boom and bust” cycle, similar to previous resource extraction experiences in Pennsylvania’s history.  A new study released by the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) and Washington & Jefferson College’s Center for Energy Policy & Management (W&J Center) confirms that the gas boom in Pennsylvania is still underway, and explores best practices to forestall or mitigate a subsequent economic downturn or “bust.”


Energy Department Announces $11 Million to Advance Renewable Carbon Fiber Production from Biomass

The Energy Department announced up to $11.3 million for two projects that aim to advance the production of cost-competitive, high-performance carbon fiber material from renewable, non-food-based feedstocks, such as agricultural residues and woody biomass. Carbon fiber – a strong, lightweight material that can replace steel and other heavier metals – can lower the cost and improve performance of fuel-efficient vehicles and renewable energy components such as wind turbine blades. The two projects seek to demonstrate new biomass conversion technologies that enable the manufacturing of acrylonitrile – an essential feedstock for high performance carbon fiber – for less than $1 per pound.


Obama Administration Announces Additional Support to Help Communities Boost Local Food Economies

Updated Farm to School Census Demonstrates Economic Impact of Local Food

On behalf of the White House Rural Council, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Local Food, Local Places, a federal initiative that will provide direct technical support to rural communities to help them build strong local food systems as part of their community's economic action plans. Under this effort, a team of agricultural, transportation, environmental, and regional economic experts will work directly with local communities to develop comprehensive strategies that use local food systems to meet a variety of needs.


USDA Announces Funding Availability for Turning Biomass Material into Energy

Farm Bill Implementation Continues as Energy Facilities Can Now Apply for Renewed Biomass Crop Assistance Program

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin accepting applications June 16 from energy facilities interested in receiving forest or agricultural residues to generate clean energy. The support comes through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.


Vilsack Announces Farm Bill Funding for Bioenergy Research, Converting to Biomass Fuel Systems

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced up to $14.5 million in funding for two USDA bioenergy programs made available through the 2014 Farm Bill. USDA's Rural Development (RD) announced it is accepting applications from companies seeking to offset the costs associated with converting fossil fuel systems to renewable biomass fuel systems, while USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the availability of $2.5 million in grants to enhance national energy security through the development of bio-based transportation fuels, biopower, and new bio-based products.


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