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USDA Joins First White House Hispanic Policy Conference

Last week, community leaders from all over the country visited Washington DC to join the White House for the first Hispanic Policy conference in our nation’s history. The goal was to get a dialogue going between administration officials and community leaders on an array of topics of particular interest to the Hispanic community. Some of the topics included jobs, education, immigration and energy. I had the honor of attending the conference on behalf of USDA.

The two-day event was coordinated and hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. 160 Hispanic leaders from 25 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico attended the discussion as well as over 100 administration officials. Read more »

AMS Completes First Spanish Webinar

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently held its first Spanish-language webinar: An Introduction to PACA – In Spanish. Pat Romero, Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) Western Regional director, introduced participants to the PACA Branch and discussed how it protects the produce industry.

Every day, PACA receives inquiries from produce companies requesting assistance to handle problems such as interpreting inspection certificates, settling contract disputes, and addressing bankruptcy problems.  The branch promotes fair trading practices in the fruit and vegetable industry by establishing and enforcing a code of fair business practices and by helping companies resolve their disputes. Read more »

Risk Management Agency Seeks Public Input on Establishing a Single Data Reporting System

USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) working together have made great strides in making acreage reporting simpler for farmers and ranchers.  The Acreage and Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative (ACRSI), seeks to reduce the reporting burden on producers submitting data to USDA.

In listening sessions with producers last year, FSA and the Office of the Chief Information Officer found some common themes emerged: Read more »

USDA Leaders Share Successes, Goals for Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan addresses the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council and members of the press.

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan addresses the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council and members of the press.

On July 11, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and I traveled to Richmond, Virginia to represent USDA at the annual Chesapeake Bay Executive Council (CBEC) meeting. The CBEC is the governing body of Bay restoration and protection efforts, and it includes leaders from federal agencies and states across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Read more »

APHIS Veterinarians, Protecting our Nation’s Wildlife Populations

Dr. Jack Rhyan, APHIS Wildlife Pathologist, Fort Collins, CO

Dr. Jack Rhyan, APHIS Wildlife Pathologist, Fort Collins, CO

I’m Dr. Jack Rhyan and I’m a wildlife pathologist for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services. I’ve worked for APHIS since 1990, and had spent seven years at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories before taking my current position at the National Wildlife Research Center. Read more »

A Louisiana Bank Leverages USDA Rural Development Funds to Build a Hotel and Create Jobs

Recently, about 150 people came out to show their support for the new Hampton Inn & Suites of Marksville at their grand opening in Avoyelles Parish in Louisiana. USDA Rural Development State Director Clarence W. Hawkins joined Thomas G. Christopoulos (owner) along with representatives from Cenla Chambers of Commerce; Daniel Decuir, Marksville Mayor Pro Tem; and other dignitaries to introduce the new 77 room hotel to the city. The hotel will provide an estimated 15 new jobs for area residents.

“Rural Development will continue to invest in the development of our rural communities throughout the State of Louisiana,” said State Director Hawkins. This new hotel will impact the Town of Marksville by creating jobs, furnishing accommodations for the overflow of visitors and it is the first brand name hotel to come to Marksville, Louisiana. Read more »