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Secretary’s Column: Farm Bill Priorities

On Monday, I laid out my priorities for the upcoming Farm Bill.  This legislation addresses farming, but also deals with many important aspects of life in America.  It’s about supporting the jobs of the future, it’s about keeping pace with the changing needs of agriculture and rural America, and it’s about providing a safe and ample food supply for the nation.

But it must begin with our responsibility to strengthen agriculture, a bright spot in today’s economy.

As Congress writes the portion of the bill involving agriculture, the focus should be on three core principles that have shaped the success of the American farmer over generations: maintaining a strong safety net, supporting sustainable productivity and promoting vibrant markets. Read more »

President Obama’s Startup America Initiative Helps Agricultural Innovation Create Economic Opportunity

As Chief Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), it is my privilege to lead the talented researchers and scientists throughout the department. USDA scientists work to solve some of the world’s biggest problems in preserving our health through nutrition, feeding a growing planet, and managing our precious land, water, and energy resources.  Every day, I am impressed by the innovation and accomplishments of our scientists.  It is innovation and dedication of this kind that fuels economic growth and the creation of new industries, businesses, jobs, products, and services.

One major driver of successful innovation is technology transfer—the private sector adoption of research outcomes—of federally-funded research from universities and federal laboratories to the marketplace.

Often, research performed by federal scientists or supported by the federal government is leveraged by the private sector to serve the broader public. It creates jobs, spurs economic growth and enhances global competitiveness of the U.S. agriculture sector. Read more »

An Explanation of Green Jobs Policies, Theory, Measurement Approaches, and Job Growth Expectations

A new white paper titled An Explanation of Green Jobs Policies, Theory, Measurement Approaches, and Job Growth Expectations was written by Iowa State University through a cooperative agreement with USDA’s Office of Energy Policy and New Uses.  The authors explore policy, theoretical foundations, and the approaches to measuring green jobs in the United States.  The paper contains brief descriptions of national and state initiatives to quantify green jobs, as well as their potential for growth.  The study finds there is little academic research that conceptualizes the green economy.  Regional research to assist state and local policy development is needed, along with evaluations investigating offsetting job losses.

There are currently twin public policy focuses regarding green jobs.  The first concerns imply value of the activity; namely, the ability to conserve energy and other natural resources as well as reduce pollution.  The second focus is the job producing value.  While most people agree that the environmentally beneficial goals of policy developments are essential, the job creation goals are foremost in most policymakers’ minds. Read more »

Let’s Move to Buy Groceries with SNAP

Life students are finding out that learning about nutrition can be healthy and fun!

Life students are finding out that learning about nutrition can be healthy and fun!

It can be a challenge to build a healthy plate of fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s why First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Faith and Communities initiative is helping community and faith-based organizations to ensure that all families have access to healthy, affordable food in the communities. Read more »

Data-Lovers Rejoice: More Farmers Market Geocodes Available

A map plotting the updated locations of U.S. Farmers Markets.  Geocode data is now available for over 6,200 markets.

A map plotting the updated locations of U.S. Farmers Markets. Geocode data is now available for over 6,200 markets.

With nearly 2 million page views in 2011 alone, the USDA National Farmers Market Directory is one of the Department of Agriculture’s most popular consumer search engines. Read more »

Taste of America Tantalizes Taste Buds in Japan

Doggy’s Diner was a participating restaurant in the “Taste of America” promotion. Pictured here are Tommy Aoki, senior marketing specialist, Agricultural Trade Office; Fred Klose, executive director, California Ag Export Council; Koichi Yoshiike, owner, Doggy’s Diner and a member of his staff.

Doggy’s Diner was a participating restaurant in the “Taste of America” promotion. Pictured here are Tommy Aoki, senior marketing specialist, Agricultural Trade Office; Fred Klose, executive director, California Ag Export Council; Koichi Yoshiike, owner, Doggy’s Diner and a member of his staff.

Japanese customers savored restaurant dining created with quality American food ingredients as part of the first-ever “Taste of America” promotion hosted this month by the U.S. Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Tokyo. Read more »