Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Talking Trade in the Sunshine State

USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, Michael Scuse, talks with Florida agriculture leaders at the Port of Tampa to discuss trade issues and the Trade Promotion Authority.

USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, Michael Scuse, talks with Florida agriculture leaders at the Port of Tampa to discuss trade issues and the Trade Promotion Authority.

Recently, I had the pleasure of hosting USDA Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Under Secretary, Michael Scuse, here in Florida for an agricultural trade roundtable. Mr. Scuse met with more than 25 Florida agriculture leaders at the Port of Tampa to discuss trade issues and talk about Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).

Trade Promotion Authority, which needs Congressional approval, is a critical tool in our efforts to seek approval of trade agreements that support and create U.S. jobs while helping American agriculture compete more successfully in an ever-expanding global marketplace. Right now, the United States is negotiating two critical trade agreements – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). Trade Promotion Authority would help ensure that America’s farmers, ranchers, and food processors receive the greatest benefit from these negotiations. Read more »

Love of Animals Keeps Colorado Teen Focused

Lakota Roberson (left) stands with representatives from Flying Diamond Ranch, who have sponsored the teen for various events. Roberson has won multiple championships and has been hired by other businesses for her fitting and showing abilities.

Lakota Roberson (left) stands with representatives from Flying Diamond Ranch, who have sponsored the teen for various events. Roberson has won multiple championships and has been hired by other businesses for her fitting and showing abilities.

At 16, Lakota Roberson has a lot of responsibility. The high school sophomore works two jobs, runs her own business, handles a full course load of classes and cares for 54 animals that she considers to be her children. By senior year she hopes to grow her animal family to 100.

Lakota, who starts her days off at 5:30 a.m. on weekends and 6 a.m. on weekdays admits, “I don’t have much down time, but when I do, I sleep.” Her first chore of the day, of course, is to take care of her animals. They consist of 40 ewes, 10 goats and four rams.

“It started out as a hobby, now it’s my job,” said Lakota. “But I love it.” Read more »

Healthy Kids Need Healthy Food: USDA Nutrition Programs Help Children and Families Grow & Thrive

Childhood Hunger in America infographic. Click to enlarge.

Childhood Hunger in America infographic. Click to enlarge.

USDA nutrition programs help families gain access to safe, nutritious food. Still many families with children don’t have the security of knowing they will be able to feed their family tomorrow.  Further, many families often rely on cheaper, less healthy foods because of financial constraints and transportation issues. USDA is working to address the intertwined challenges of hunger, malnutrition, and childhood obesity through several initiatives, including the newly announced Child Hunger Demonstration Projects and increased efforts in USDA Summer Meals Programs. Read more »

Summer Meals: Its Success Depends on All of Us

Every day, millions of students are able to enjoy a nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunch thanks to the National School Lunch Program. Everyday they’re in school, that is. But what happens to these children when school lets out during the summer? That’s when vital programs offered by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service come into play. The summer meals program defends against hunger – ensuring that millions of the most vulnerable Americans have the energy they need to perform at work and school by receiving a healthy meal or snack when school meals are not available. Those meals are served at a variety of community centers throughout the country.

In the summer of 2014, USDA set a goal of serving 10 more million meals than in the summer of 2013 through the two programs that comprise USDA’s summer meal programs: USDA’s Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program’s Seamless Summer Option. With the help of partners, elected officials, and community leaders across the country, the goal was exceeded. We now want to build on that momentum. We’ve set new goals and need your help. Read more »

In Vermont the Hills are Alive and the Maple’s Flowing

Just 609 gallons more - then Vermont would have produced a million gallons of maple syrup in 2012! That could cover a lot of waffles and pancakes. Check back next week for another state spotlight from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

Just 609 gallons more - then Vermont would have produced a million gallons of maple syrup in 2012! That could cover a lot of waffles and pancakes. Check back next week for another state spotlight from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

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.

Farming is pretty sweet in Vermont. After all, our producers rule U.S. maple syrup production. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, Vermont’s 1,523 “sugar makers” produced just under a million gallons of this sweet syrup. That’s more than 44 percent of all the maple syrup produced in the United States. The 2015 maple season will be starting soon. Daytime temperatures in the 30s and 40s with nighttime temperatures below freezing are needed for the maple sap to start flowing.

While Vermont’s terrain is excellent for maple trees, our hills and valleys are also pretty ideal for livestock. The dairy sector stands out in Vermont with about 900 dairy farms that generated more than 65 percent of the total value of agricultural product sales in 2012. That’s more than $504 million and makes us one of the top 20 states by value of sales of milk from cows. You have to admit that’s pretty impressive, considering that we are one of the smallest states in the union. More than 428,000 acres of our cropland are dedicated to corn and hay forage crops, largely supporting the dairy sector. Read more »

Another Study Shows Kids Eating More Healthy Food at School, Throwing Less Food Away

A new study published in Childhood Obesity has again confirmed that students are consuming healthier food at school as a result of the updated meal standards.  The study further demonstrates that, contrary to anecdotal reports, the new standards are not contributing to an increase in plate waste.  The study was conducted by researchers from the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut, the University of California Berkeley, and Yale University.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today released the following statement on the report’s findings: Read more »