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USDA 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum: Sessions Focusing on Disease Prevention and Response

USDA’s 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum, Feb. 23-24, will present 25 breakout sessions, including “Preventing Disease From Crossing the Border: SPS Initiatives for Global Food Security” and “Fighting Foodborne Illness.”  While the first session will focus on the contribution of animal health to global food security, I’ll be moderating the second session that looks at Salmonella and the most recent progress made in fighting its threat to public health.

Since a coordinated response to outbreaks is a vital component of protecting American animal agriculture, the “Preventing Disease From Crossing the Border” session includes cooperative perspectives.  Dr. Jose Diez, Associate Deputy Administrator of USDA’s Veterinary Services Emergency Management and Diagnostics Service will address “Global Emergency Response.”  Dr. Mo Salman, Colorado State University, will discuss “Enhancing International Capacity to Meet SPS Standards;” and Former Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agriculture, Jason Hafemeister, addresses “SPS Issues and Free Trade Agreements.” Read more »

Then and Now, USDA Feeds the Nation

During the holiday season, food banks across America experience a spike in demand and this year is no different. Today that seasonal demand is also bolstered by a significant rise in client numbers because of the current U.S. economy.

One of those food distributors seeing an uptick in demand is the Capital Area Food Bank, a food hub with more than 700 partners that distribute commodities to locations in the District of Columbia, northern Virginia and parts of Maryland. Read more »

Strategic Partners Collaborate for Jobs and Healthy Communities in Southeast Alaska

“Heaven on Earth” – it’s the popular sentiment of residents living in Southeast Alaska.  If you’ve ever taken an Alaskan cruise no doubt it was through the Southeast Panhandle where miles of wild beauty delights the eye.

It’s no wonder Southeast Alaska is a premier destination for U.S. and international travelers.  With that in mind, it may come as a surprise this singularly picturesque region has endured an economic hardship that continues to loom over its residents.  Since the downturn of the once thriving timber industry the majority of rural communities in Southeast have experienced a downturn in their local economy along with declining populations, fewer job opportunities and increasing energy costs. Read more »

Food Safety This Holiday Season

Cross posted from the White House blog:

With the holiday season in full swing, many of us are thinking about the meals we’ll soon be sharing with family and friends.  Whether it’s turkey and egg nog, or latkes, or a New Year’s buffet, food is always a central and cherished part of the festivities. Of course, we all know that a necessary ingredient for any meal is food safety.

When the President came into office, he said that “protecting the safety of our food and drugs is one of the most fundamental responsibilities government has.” He pledged to strengthen our food safety laws and to enhance the government’s food safety performance. Read more »

DC Quake Rocked the District, but the Tweets Rolled On

Number seven on our list of Social Media Moments was our August Twitter chat with Food and Nutrition Service’s Under Secretary, Kevin Concannon and ABC’s Dr. Richard Besser.  This edition of Dr. Besser’s weekly live chat addressed hunger in America and allowed audience members to pose questions to Under Secretary Concannon via Twitter. This was a great opportunity for us as we opened our virtual doors to many individuals who might not otherwise be able to “speak” directly to our key official on the issue.

Although the Under Secretary and other agency leadership often travel to schools, food banks, community centers and other venues to talk about hunger and nutrition issues, this Twitter chat was a little bit different.  This wasn’t a planned speech or a more common scheduled Tweet from our blog. The Twitter chat was Concannon having a conversation with people he had never met but who gathered virtually around an important issue. Sitting in the room around our laptop with the Tweet-stream projected on the wall, we were able to use our well-established Twitter channel in a more nimble and free-flowing manner, rather than just a broadcast. Read more »

Ag Producers Improve Two Coastal Bayous in Mississippi Through New Gulf of Mexico Initiative

Mississippi’s Gulf Coast is a major environmental and economic resource. Conservationists have worked to improve beaches and coastal rivers, including the planting of sea oats in past years.

Mississippi’s Gulf Coast is a major environmental and economic resource. Conservationists have worked to improve beaches and coastal rivers, including the planting of sea oats in past years.

For Kiln, Miss. resident David Koch, there’s a lot of truth to the expression “everything runs downstream.” Koch’s land borders Rotten Bayou, and he has made great strides to ensure no pollutants wash off his land and into the bayou, which feeds the Gulf of Mexico. Read more »