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Cooking Contest Offers Opportunities in the Coconino National Forest in Arizona

Coffee perks over a hot bed of coals. Generally, cowboy coffee is made by putting the grounds right in the water.

Coffee perks over a hot bed of coals. Generally, cowboy coffee is made by putting the grounds right in the water.

Roughly 100 people shrugged off cold weather near Sedona, Ariz., to attend a Dutch oven cooking contest and talk about the Coconino National Forest’s work to create a motorized and non-motorized trail system on the Red Rock Ranger District. Read more »

A Vital Link between the Past and Future of Agriculture

A young Tohono O’odham girl smiles and shows off a peacock feather.  The Tohono O’odham Community Action is working to create a healthy, sustainable and culturally-vital community for the Tohono O’odham Nation’s 28,000 members.  Photo by Cheryl Maze Walker.

A young Tohono O’odham girl smiles and shows off a peacock feather. The Tohono O’odham Community Action is working to create a healthy, sustainable and culturally-vital community for the Tohono O’odham Nation’s 28,000 members. Photo by Cheryl Francisco.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Profile America Facts, the first American Indian Day was celebrated back in May 1916.  Red Fox James, a Blackfeet Indian, rode horseback from state to state, gathering endorsements from 24 state governments to have a day to honor American Indians. In 1990, then President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating November as National American Indian Heritage Month, and this year President Obama continued the tradition. Read more »

Federal Nutrition Assistance Helps Food Banks Keep Up With Demand

Last month I spoke to food bank leaders at the Feeding America Central Region conference, which was held in Baton Rouge, La., and hosted by the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. Attendees came from over 20 states to strategize about meeting the challenges of these tough economic times. Feeding America’s food banks help supply thousands of food pantries and emergency food sites across the U.S. and are among the many charitable organizations working hard to figure out ways to deal with decreased donations and a higher demand for food.

I told the group that it’s important that they continue to get the word out to food bank clients that USDA nutrition assistance is available to folks who meet the eligibility standards. Programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women Infants and Children program (WIC) still provide critical aid to individuals and families that may experience food insecurity. I also reminded them to encourage parents in their communities to enroll their children in school lunch and breakfast. School meals help ease the burden on families to provide three meals a day to the children in their households. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Expanding Trade with Vietnam and China

Next week I will travel to Vietnam and China on behalf of USDA and our nation’s farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses.  I want to strengthen trade relationships we have with both nations, support the American brand, and create more opportunities for American producers to sell their goods throughout the Asia Pacific region.

This year, China moved ahead of Mexico and Canada to become our number one export market for U.S. agricultural goods.  In the past decade, the Vietnamese market has also become increasingly important for our farmers, ranchers and growers – jumping from the 50th to 15th position as a market for U.S. farm exports. Read more »

Capitol Christmas Tree Heads Toward Nation’s Capitol

The 65-foot white fir that will be this year's Capitol Christmas Tree is loaded onto its flatbed truck by two cranes after being harvested Nov. 5. Prior to its harvesting on the Stanislaus National Forest in California, an elder from the Tuolumne Band of Me-wuk Indians blessed the majestic tree and its journey in a private ceremony. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The 65-foot white fir that will be this year's Capitol Christmas Tree is loaded onto its flatbed truck by two cranes after being harvested Nov. 5. Prior to its harvesting on the Stanislaus National Forest in California, an elder from the Tuolumne Band of Me-wuk Indians blessed the majestic tree and its journey in a private ceremony. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The 65-foot white fir from California’s Stanislaus National Forest was harvested and embarked on its journey toward the nation’s capitol on Nov. 5. Read more »

APHIS Veterinarian’s Love of Animals Starts at a Young Age

Hello, I’m Dr. Jack Shere, the Eastern Regional Director for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services program.

As a kid, we had a German Shepherd mix puppy. My dad brought her home from a shelter and we took her to the veterinarian for shots. After a time, she got sick, displaying a series of symptoms that turned out to be distemper. She’d contracted it when she was too young for the puppy shots. The symptoms got worse until one Friday when she had a seizure in the kitchen. We called the vet to ask about bringing her in to be humanely put to sleep and the vet said he would. Watching this puppy die was heartbreaking for my entire family. I decided then to become a vet and to never turn down emergency calls so no one had to go through what my family did with this puppy. I’ve kept that vow in years since I graduated vet school. Read more »