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Census Data Help Us Know Our Farmers

As the head of USDA’s statistical agency, I know that comprehensive, accurate and timely statistical data are some of the most valuable tools in helping to “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.” The statistics collected and published by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) help tell the story of American agriculture – what’s being grown, where it’s being grown, who’s growing it, what the economic impact is, and how these things are changing and evolving over time.

Our oldest and largest data collection program is the Census of Agriculture. This comprehensive look at the farm sector is conducted every five years – most recently in 2007 – and it provides detailed information on U.S. farms and farmers all the way down to the county level. In addition, NASS tabulates key census data by various other geographical and political designations, including watersheds, congressional districts and American Indian reservations. Read more »

Iowa State Fair: America’s Heartland at its Best

Cross-posted from the White House Blog

I’ve spent the last few days here in Iowa, a state that I was honored to serve as Governor for eight years. Yesterday, I walked the grounds of the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. The fair is refreshingly the same each year, but also a snapshot of changing rural America. The food stands, midway and cattle barns are in the same place that they’ve been for years. We’ve sculpted a “Butter Cow” since the early 1900s, but now the young people all have iPods and Blackberry phones. Their parents have cell phones. Read more »

Helping with the Deepwater Response

Last week I completed three weeks working at the Deepwater Horizon Unified Area Command (UAC) in New Orleans. The UAC is a command center made up of Coast Guard, BP, Federal and State employees working together to address the environmental-, public health- and wildlife-related concerns associated with the massive Deepwater clean-up effort in the Gulf of Mexico. At the UAC, hundreds of staff members work nearly 12 hours each day, seven days a week. Read more »

Feds Feed Families in Massachusetts

The Gloucester food pantry is set up like a grocery store for the convenience of recipients.

The Gloucester food pantry is set up like a grocery store for the convenience of recipients.

Earlier this month, USDA Rural Development Area Director Lyndon Nichols, Helen Rush-Lloyd, Constituent Services Director from U.S. Rep. John F. Tierney’s office, and I delivered 80lbs of donations to a local Gloucester, Mass. food pantry named “The Open Door.” This food pantry has a slogan “Feeding People. Changing Lives.” Read more »

Recovery Summer in Iowa-USDA Business Administrator Highlights an Economic Success Story

Left to right, Bill Menner, State Director in Iowa; Congressman Leonard Boswell and Administrator Canales. Canales was in Iowa to discuss business development issues.

Left to right, Bill Menner, State Director in Iowa; Congressman Leonard Boswell and Administrator Canales. Canales was in Iowa to discuss business development issues.

“Today the conversations I have with my business colleagues, family and friends are focused around the best ways to rebuilding the U.S. economy,” said Jerry Lorenzen, President of World Food Processing, in his opening remarks at a public event at his company’s headquarters in Oskaloosa, Iowa, last week. Read more »

Farming Critical to Michigan Recovery

Originally published in The Detroit News:

Today, 306 million Americans have food on their table thanks to a small and noble group of professional gamblers: America’s farmers and ranchers.

Only about 1 percent of Americans operate a farm or ranch and these hardworking few not only help provide the rest of us with three meals every day, but they also form the foundation of the agricultural sector of our economy that generates one in every 12 jobs and a $20 billion trade surplus.

They do so in the face of enormous business and personal risk. Read more »