USDA official tours the Center for Renewable Carbon

USDA's Hayden visits UT Institute of Agriculture

USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden feels the texture of switchgrass powder in a lab at the University of Tennessee Center for Renewable Carbon. Looking on are researcher Niki Labbe (left) and College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Student Ambassadors Pagie Jared and Will Freeman. CRC Director Tim Rials (not visible) and CASNR Dean Caula Beyl observe from the door. Photo by R. Maxey, UTIA.

USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden included a visit to the UT Institute of Agriculture on January 22 as part of her recent trip to the Volunteer State. Here she met with administrators, CASNR students and 4-H youth and she toured the Center for Renewable Carbon (CRC).  Her visit included a brief overview of UTIA and its programs as well as some detailed presentations about the ongoing efforts at the CRC to advance the technology and sustainability of converting biomass into advanced fuels, useful chemicals and innovative material products.

While in Tennessee, Harden also visited Tennessee State University in Nashville and met with the Tennessee Soybean Promotions Board in Pigeon Forge. At TSU she discussed the USDA “StrikeForce” program and named 53 Tennessee counties that will be added to this program. This initiative seeks economic growth for rural areas, and Harden says StrikeForce has the goal to keep young people from leaving their hometowns because of a lack of employment and career opportunities.

“We need jobs there [in rural America]. We really do,” Harden says. “We need economic opportunity to keep folks there, keep farmers on the farm, keep small businesses thriving. So we’re going to use all the resources we have to work with all our partners in the state to make sure that we can reverse that trend that’s been happening lately with folks leaving rural areas.”

Strikeforce dovetails nicely with the UTIA’s roles to deliver discoveries and to help communities. “That’s what we are working towards,” said Tim Rials, director of the CRC. “The efforts of the CRC to develop new products from sustainable agriculture and forestry operations can help keep rural America thriving.”



Chuck Denney, UTIA Marketing and Communications,