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U.S. Foods and Beverages Attract Crowds at Korea Trade Show as United States Pushes U.S.-Korea Trade Agreements

Approximately 40 U.S. food companies from every region of the United States set up shop last week at the annual Seoul Food and Hotel 2011 Trade Show, the largest food show in Korea. This year, excitement in the U.S. pavilion was particularly high as the United States recently concluded negotiations with South Korea on the pending U.S.-Korea trade agreement (KORUS), which will provide American agriculture with improved access to Korea’s $1 trillion economy.

The United States is already Korea’s top supplier of a broad variety of food and farm products. U.S. agriculture, fish and forestry exports to Korea totaled $5.8 billion in 2010, making Korea the fifth largest export market for U.S. farm products. Under the KORUS, American products will become significantly more affordable for Korea’s 49 million consumers, since the trade agreement will eliminate most of Korea’s tariffs (taxes on imports). Read more »

USDA Presents Nutrition Excellence Award to Dual-Language Elementary School in the Nation’s Capital

Schoolchildren at Bruce-Monroe Elementary School in Washington, D.C. celebrate lunch after receiving their Gold Award of Distinction honor through USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge.

Schoolchildren at Bruce-Monroe Elementary School in Washington, D.C. celebrate lunch after receiving their Gold Award of Distinction honor through USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge.

As soon as you enter the front doors, it is clear that nutrition and health are at the forefront of life at Bruce-Monroe Elementary in Washington, D.C.  That message was unmistakable on Thursday, April 28, when I visited the dual-language school to celebrate their Gold Level of Distinction honor in USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge.  But more importantly, the event represented a broader commitment to the welfare of the kids we met, and to our nation’s next great generation. Read more »

USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel is Joined by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree in Announcing Earth Day Funds to Help Preserve Maine Clam Flats

At an Earth Day celebration in Thomaston, Maine on April 23, members of the community gathered to hear an announcement that will have a major benefit to the surrounding environment and shellfish industry, helping to preserve 1,200 acres of clam flats in the area.

USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel was joined by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree to announce that the Town of Thomaston will receive Federal funds to make numerous improvements to its wastewater infrastructure. The Town will also contribute funds to make the project possible. The announcement brings the total investment Rural Development has provided to the Town of Thomaston to a total of over $9 million. Read more »

After the Storm

So far this year, Texas has lost more than 256,000 acres and 147 structures, as well as livestock, to 511 wildfires.

Fortunately, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas is now making $400,000 available through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to those who have suffered from the year’s wildfires to help them reestablish conservation practices on Texas rangeland.

NRCS provides technical help, and in some cases, financial assistance, to install measures that reduce post-fire damage and aid in the rehabilitation process, restoring plant health and preventing erosion. Read more »

America’s Arbor Day Traditions Shared with Afghan Delegation

In honor of Arbor Day, I helped plant a tree at USDA’s National Arboretum on Friday morning, April 29. What made this unique from the thousands of similar tree plantings taking place nationwide today is that I was joined by a visiting delegation of Afghan agricultural experts.

The delegation included agricultural leaders from Afghanistan’s Ghazni Province who are part of an agricultural exchange program hosted by the National Guard Bureau’s Texas Agribusiness Development Team (ADT) IV.  Washington, D.C., is the first stop on a nearly two-week trip to the United States, which will include training and presentations by some of this country’s premier agricultural experts. Read more »