Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Talk Business & Politics provides “Made In America,” a round-up of state and global manufacturing news.
USDA LAUNCHES NEW APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM FOR VETERANS
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced on Oct. 3 the start of a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) jobs program that will use the national apprenticeship system to hire new employees as agricultural commodity graders, a key role in USDA’s mission to protect American consumers. The new program will also serve as a way to increase jobs for U.S. veterans.
The program, piloted by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is a registered national apprenticeship program that combines on-the-job training with theoretical and practical instruction in the classroom and online. Apprentices who complete the paid training program will meet the qualifications for a position as a USDA Agricultural Commodities Grader.
The new apprenticeship program is a collaboration between USDA, the Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). DOL approved the curriculum and registered it as an official source for job training and the VA approved the use of Veterans Benefits, which may include a monthly housing allowance and an additional stipend for books and supplies, for eligible apprentices.
The USDA employs more than 11,000 veterans and since 2009 has provided more than $505 million in direct farm loans to help 7,416 veterans start, maintain or grow their farming operations. More information here.
UNION PACIFIC’S FAMOUS 844 STEAM LOCOMOTIVE TO START MULTI-STATE TOUR, STOPS PLANNED FOR ARKANSAS
Union Pacific’s ‘Living Legend’ No. 844 steam locomotive will travel more than 1,200 miles one-way to celebrate the Oct. 22 opening of Big River Crossing in Memphis, Tenn. Housed in Union Pacific’s Steam Shop in Wyoming, No. 844 underwent a major overhaul and made its return to the rails for Cheyenne Frontier Days in late July.
The trek is the first multi-state venture since the locomotive’s three-year restoration. No. 844 will traverse Union Pacific’s main line through Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee beginning Oct. 13. Stops during the 19-day roundtrip journey are scheduled in nine Arkansas cities Oct. 20-25. A comprehensive schedule including locations and display times, as well as route map and a GPS monitor of No. 844’s location, is available here.
BIO-BASED JOBS CONTRIBUTED $393 BILLION TO U.S. ECONOMY
A new report released on Oct. 3 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that in 2014, the bio-based products industry contributed $393 billion and 4.2 million jobs to America’s economy. The report also indicates that the sector grew from 2013 to 2014, creating or supporting an additional 220,000 jobs and $24 billion over that period.
This report is the second Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Bio-based Products Industry released by USDA and it analyzes revenue and jobs created by the bio-based products industry at the national and state level in 2014. USDA released the first report of this kind last year, which analyzed the same information based on 2013 data.