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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on a 21st Century Regulatory System

In January, President Obama called upon the U.S. Department of Agriculture and all other U.S. agencies to perform a government-wide review of current federal regulations to update, streamline and remove excessive rules. This review, prompted by Executive Order 13563, was intended to minimize burdens on individuals, businesses and communities attempting to access programs that promote economic growth, improve access to resources, create jobs, and protect the health and safety of the American people.

Since then, USDA has sought public comment on best practices for simplifying and reducing reporting burdens for entry into critical programs, while reducing administrative and operating costs by sharing data across relevant agencies.  These programs range from rural economic development initiatives, to measures governing national forest usage and soil conservation, to emergency producer assistance as a result of natural disasters. Read more »

Benvenuti a Ashville! Ira B. Jones Elementary Tempts Judges with Taste of Tuscany

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

Located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, N.C., is known for its rich heritage, arts, and fine dining.  Recently, students from Ira B. Jones Elementary School, located in Asheville, shared a taste of another well-known region of fine dining – Tuscany – as the school’s recipe team prepared their semi-finalist recipe of Tuscan Smoked Turkey and Bean Soup for the judges in the First Lady’s Recipes for Healthy Kids competition.

The school nutrition and cafeteria staff worked hand-in-hand with the recipe team to cook 350 servings of the Tuscan Smoked Turkey and Bean Soup for lunch as a special menu day in celebration of the judging event and served it alongside a corn muffin, fresh green vegetables and fresh fruit to the students who gave it great reviews. The judges also got a taste of the soup and talked to students about what they thought of the recipe. Delizioso!! Read more »

USDA Receives Main Street Leadership Award in Recognition of Commitment to Rural Communities

More than 1,300 community developers from 47 states converged on Des Moines, Iowa, this week to attend the 2011 National Main Streets Conference organized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

A key theme repeated during the conference illustrated how communities with healthy Main Street districts are two steps ahead in the race to create and retain jobs.

In small towns all across the country, downtown is typically two or three blocks of businesses run by familiar faces, a place where one knows who is at the local diner by the cars and trucks sitting outside.  Ensuring these districts remain vibrant many times requires a significant investment in buildings, capital and infrastructure, often financed through USDA Rural Development. Read more »

Revitalizing Agriculture, Empowering Women in Afghanistan

Maggie Rhodes, pictured in Afghanistan, has been a USDA agricultural advisor there since December 2009.”

Maggie Rhodes, pictured in Afghanistan, has been a USDA agricultural advisor there since December 2009.”

For the last 26 years, I have proudly worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2009, I made a life- and career-altering decision to leave my job as the team leader in Program Allocations and Management Support with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)  in Washington D.C. and volunteered to help support USDA’s efforts in Afghanistan. Read more »

Cooking Meat? Check the New Recommended Temperatures

Cook pork, roasts, and chops to 145 ºF as measured with a food thermometer, then allow the meat to rest for three minutes before carving or consuming.

Cook pork, roasts, and chops to 145 ºF as measured with a food thermometer, then allow the meat to rest for three minutes before carving or consuming.

Cross posted from the FoodSafety.gov blog:

On May 24, USDA made some important changes in their recommended cooking temperatures for meats. Here’s what you need to know: Read more »

Honoring the Past With a Recipe that Looks to a Healthy Future

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

Every now and then we come across a great story of people making change in their communities and so it was on the next stop in the Recipes for Healthy Kids competition. Tribal communities are focusing a lot of attention on ending the epidemic of childhood obesity in Indian Country and attention and credit is due to Monument Valley High School in Kayenta, Arizona.  Located on the Navajo Nation, they are the only school district in Indian Country to make it to the semi-finals of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Recipes for Healthy Kids competition.

The team at Monument Valley is making its contribution to a healthy community by designing a nutritious recipe that will be served to their classmates and with a bit of luck, students across the country. Our judges, score cards at the ready, could not wait to take that first bite. Read more »