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Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan Kicks Off Her 2011 College Tour

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Dr. Kathleen Merrigan meets with local producers at the North Carolina University's student run Farmer's Market in Raleigh, NC, on Feb. 9, 2011.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Dr. Kathleen Merrigan meets with local producers at the North Carolina University's student run Farmer's Market in Raleigh, NC, on Feb. 9, 2011.

Before kicking off this year’s ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’ college tour in North Carolina, I took a moment to reflect on why these college visits are so important. As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, we must out-educate the world in order to win the future.  Indeed, during the eight years that I spent as a college professor, I was constantly reminded that investing in our nation’s young minds is investing in our nation’s future. With this in mind, this year, members of USDA leadership will join the Secretary and myself in engaging America’s youth in a critical dialogue about our food system, our rural economy, and the economic opportunities associated with local and regional markets. Read more »

Illinois School Hosts Rockin’ HealthierUS School Award Celebration

A recent USDA HUSSC event featured a rousing finale in which the entire gymnasium-filled with jumping and cheering students, teachers, administrators and partners- were showered with gold confetti.

A recent USDA HUSSC event featured a rousing finale in which the entire gymnasium-filled with jumping and cheering students, teachers, administrators and partners- were showered with gold confetti.

We don’t often associate rock music with school nutrition, but perhaps that’s changed after a fun-filled, rollicking event I attended at Golfview Elementary in Carpentersville, Illinois. Read more »

Regional Pennsylvania Stronger Economies Together (SET) Meets To Address Economic Issues

Snow didn’t stop the ideas from flying as members of the Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Commission (Northern Tier) and their partners from Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, and Wyoming Counties met in Pennsylvania last month. Northern Tier is leading the regional group that was awarded the opportunity to participate in the Stronger Economies Together (SET) training and technical assistance program, sponsored by USDA Rural Development in conjunction with the Northeast Regional Rural Development Center and Penn State Extension. The SET program is a nationwide effort focused on working with regional groups to encourage and strengthen regional thinking and developing information and strategies to address issues affecting the region. The training will cover nine course modules on “Strategies for Building New Economic Opportunities” which will be completed by next year. Read more »

AMS Fruit and Vegetable Programs Continues Outreach Efforts

The Fruit and Vegetable Programs of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is intensifying its educational outreach campaign to the industry and consumers.

Customers regularly refer to the Fruit and Vegetable Programs as the “best-kept secret in the produce business” because valuable resources are often underutilized.  The program maintains a lot of beneficial information for the industry, but we had to find different ways to present it.  To improve transparency, we embarked on a communication campaign that now offers an industry newsletter, a series of webinars, and enhancements to our website. Read more »