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Super Bowl Concessions Go Organic and Local

Fans at the Lucas Oil Stadium, pictured here, will be served three flavors of chili made from organic and locally grown ingredients.  The USDA’s National Organic Program oversees the certification of USDA organic products.  (Photo by Carl Van Rooy)

Fans at the Lucas Oil Stadium, pictured here, will be served three flavors of chili made from organic and locally grown ingredients. The USDA’s National Organic Program oversees the certification of USDA organic products. (Photo by Carl Van Rooy)

There’s a new menu item in town for the Super Bowl: white bean chili made with organic beans and vegetables.  The push to bring organic and locally-grown options to the concession stand came from a partnership between non-profits that support family farms, celebrities and Centerplate, the NFL’s largest concession provider.

The USDA National Organic Program—within the Agricultural Marketing Service—oversees the certification of USDA organic products.  We also certify third-party agents around the world to uphold the integrity of the organic label. Read more »

Home on the Range –What Type of Livestock Graze on National Forests and Grasslands?

Cow herd is tended on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona.  The Ranch was a recent winner of the Forest Service’s Outstanding Rangeland Management External Partner Award. (Photo Credit:  Photo taken by Wink Crigler for X Diamond Ranch)

Cow herd is tended on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. The Ranch was a recent winner of the Forest Service’s Outstanding Rangeland Management External Partner Award. (Photo Credit: Photo taken by Wink Crigler for X Diamond Ranch)

When thinking about national forests and grasslands, your thoughts may at first focus on the incredible abundance of recreation opportunities, wilderness and solitude or perhaps the precious water resources that flow from forest to faucet.  But did you know that livestock grazing is also permitted? Read more »

Praise for Charting a New Direction on National Forests

Cross posted from the Council on Environmental Quality blog:

Last week, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and I announced our intent for finalizing a new planning rule to govern management of the National Forest System. The 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands are critical to President Obama’s vision of an economy built to last, providing clean air, clean water, habitat for wildlife, opportunities for healthy outdoor recreation, jobs and growth in rural communities, and a range of other benefits for all Americans.

When finalized, a new rule will replace outdated procedures that have been in place since 1982 that no longer reflect the best science, public values, or agency expertise. Land management plan revisions under the preferred alternative would cost less money and take less time, while protecting and restoring our forests, water and wildlife and supporting vibrant rural communities. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Healthier Meals for our Nation’s Children

This month marked an important step forward for the health and well-being of our nation’s youngsters.  USDA announced changes to improve the quality of school lunches that are served to 32 million American children each day. This will help them learn and better prepare them for the jobs of the 21st century.

These new standards – based on the most up-to-date science – will make the same kinds of practical changes that many parents are already encouraging at home:

They’ll make sure students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week – and increase opportunities to eat whole grains.  They’ll substantially reduce the amount of saturated fat, trans-fats and salt in meals.  And they’ll ensure appropriate portion size, limiting calories based on how old a child is.  To drink, kids will be offered fat-free or low-fat milk. Read more »

Deputy Secretary Announces Support for Local Producers to Create Jobs and Grow Business

The owners of the Chapel Hill (NC) Creamery, got a grant to help them expand their cheese operation. The VAPG grant will supply working capital to help the farm meet its goals.   Photo courtesy of the Chapel Hill Herald Sun.

The owners of the Chapel Hill (NC) Creamery, got a grant to help them expand their cheese operation. The VAPG grant will supply working capital to help the farm meet its goals. (Photo courtesy of the Chapel Hill Herald Sun.)

Earlier today, I had the honor of joining non-profit organizations, state and federal agencies, institutions, CEOs and others involved with agriculture and economic development to kick off the “The Many Faces of Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” conference hosted at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.  I was there to continue the work that President Obama highlighted in his State of the Union address last month. Read more »

A Smartphone App Provides New Way to Access Soil Survey Information

NRCS Soil Scientist Dr. Dylan Beaudette developed the SoilWeb application for mobile devices while he was a graduate student at UC Davis. The app provides soil survey information in a mobile form and is particularly useful for those working in the field.

NRCS Soil Scientist Dr. Dylan Beaudette developed the SoilWeb application for mobile devices while he was a graduate student at UC Davis. The app provides soil survey information in a mobile form and is particularly useful for those working in the field.

A new smartphone application, or “app,” is available as a free download for both iPhone and Android users to access soil survey information. The app, SoilWeb, combines online soil survey information with the GPS capabilities of smartphones. Read more »