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Keeping the Focus on HealthierUS Schools

First-grader Cassidy Stone clears her tray of soy nuts, whole wheat pizza stick, broccoli and jello, saying “the food tastes good.”

First-grader Cassidy Stone clears her tray of soy nuts, whole wheat pizza stick, broccoli and jello, saying “the food tastes good.”

As Child Nutrition Director for USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, one of my top priorities is to improve the nutrition and health of our nation’s children. With the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization, we have an opportunity to pass legislation that will combat childhood hunger and obesity among schoolchildren by providing schools with the tools and resources needed to help children develop healthier eating habits. Read more »

Science of Food Safety through the USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone

FSIS employees LCDR Sherry Spriggs and Dr. Jessica Forshee distribute food safety educational materials outside of the Food Safety Discovery Zone. The popular Food Safety Wheel Game is visible in the background.

FSIS employees LCDR Sherry Spriggs and Dr. Jessica Forshee distribute food safety educational materials outside of the Food Safety Discovery Zone. The popular Food Safety Wheel Game is visible in the background.

This past weekend, the USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone (FSDZ) appeared at the inaugural USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in Washington, DC.  Over 1,500 exhibitors, including universities, private industry, and government agencies filled the National Mall and surrounding areas with thought-provoking, fun, interactive, and hands-on displays. The mission of the organizer and founder, Larry Bock, and his team is to re-invigorate the interest of our nation’s youth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by producing and presenting the most compelling, exciting, educational and entertaining science-based exhibits and displays in the United States. If this weekend was any measure, they definitely succeeded! Read more »

Feed Grain with a Name and a Story

Donn Teske, farmer and President of the Kansas Farmers’ Union, is optimistic.  He believes that small and mid-sized farms are making successful inroads to improve their market power and these efforts have great potential.  Donn himself operates a fifth generation, 2,000 acre organic farm and ranch in northeastern Kansas, and, in spite of increasing difficulties, he has not been deterred from continuing to improve the marketing opportunities for mid-sized farmers.

One of these opportunities has come from the Kansas Organic Producers (KOP), a group of nearly sixty farmers that provides crucial marketing services for its members.  Established in 1974 as an education association to help promote the production and marketing of organic products, the group restructured in 1992 to focus on marketing organic grain.  One-third of Donn’s farm is dedicated to alfalfa hay, red clover, milo (grain sorghum), corn, soybeans and wheat.  With nearly his entire crop production servicing the livestock industry, KOP is his primary marketing channel.  His harvest alone would be far more difficult to market effectively, but the services of KOP give growers a shared clout. Read more »

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Tours a Facility that will Improve Family Health Care in a Michigan Community

From left: Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, Congressman Mark Schauer, Center for Family Health Executive Director Molly Kaser and State Director for Michigan Rural Development James Turner discuss the new health center.

From left: Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, Congressman Mark Schauer, Center for Family Health Executive Director Molly Kaser and State Director for Michigan Rural Development James Turner discuss the new health center.

Yesterday I accompanied Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, State Director for Michigan Rural Development James Turner and Congressman Mark Schauer on a visit to the Center for Family Health (CFH) in Jackson, a city about 30 miles south of Lansing. Read more »

This Friday: Harvest Festival at USDA

Flyer for USDA Harvest Festival, Friday October 29th, 2010

Flyer for USDA Harvest Festival, Friday October 29th, 2010

Please join us for music, food, games and other merriment at USDA’s Harvest Festival this Friday, October 29th, from 10 am to 2 pm in the People’s Garden and Farmers Market at USDA Headquarters on the corner of Jefferson Drive and 12 Street, SW in Washington, DC. Read more »

The Farm Credit System: Financial Strength Benefitting Rural America

The farmers and ranchers who use its services are also the owners of the nation's cooperative Farm Credit System. Photo courtesy Farm Credit Council

The farmers and ranchers who use its services are also the owners of the nation's cooperative Farm Credit System. Photo courtesy Farm Credit Council

Today’s farms, ranches and agricultural enterprises are more diverse and more specialized. And today’s farms and related businesses require new financial services, more equity and greater flexibility from their lenders if they are to effectively manage their businesses. Producers and rural entrepreneurs of all types need access to dedicated, specialized lenders to meet their complete credit and financial services needs. Read more »