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USDA Hosts Kids’ Day Event for Washington, DC-Area Families to Kick-Off National Invasive Species Awareness Week

From a very humble start, National Invasive Species Awareness Week’s Kids’ Day has bloomed into an event featuring an invasive species magician, a 13-year old ‘invasive species hunter’ from Texas, and even Woodsy Owl from the Forest Service.

The event, sponsored by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, will take place on February 26 at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.—a perfect setting to educate kids about the importance of protecting our forests, agriculture and the environment from harmful invasive species. Read more »

Twenty-four Students Take Part in USDA’s 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program

Twenty-four university students will attend USDA’s 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum Feb. 23-24.  The students are the recipients of corporate and USDA sponsorship aimed at promoting the education of the next generation of agriculturalists.  The Forum titled, “Moving Agriculture Forward,” is USDA’s largest annual event and will be held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.  “USDA welcomes the next generation to participate in the Forum so they might see opportunities to excel to even greater heights in their careers,” said Secretary Vilsack.

This year, sponsoring corporations and USDA agencies include: CHS, Inc.; Farm Credit; USDA’s Economic Research Service, Agricultural Research Service, and Natural Resources Conservation Service. Read more »

Rural Small Business Conference Gives Alaska Native Leaders Access to USDA Business Development Programs

Imagine living so far away from everyday resources the only way in or out for hundreds of miles is by air.  Most Americans take for granted how easy it is to jump in our cars and go to the store for whatever we want or need.  Not so in rural Alaska.

Gaining a simple, painless way to connect to food, materials, technology and other necessities was the draw for 200 rural leaders and residents, primarily Native, who came from across the state to Anchorage earlier this month. They talked to vendors and meet with Federal and state officials including those from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rural Development at the Rural Small Business Conference hosted by Alaska Village Initiatives (AVI). Read more »

Unique Collaboration Strategy Brings Trail Users Together in Georgia National Forests

Trail users of all types take part in a Trails 101 course offered through CoTrails in January 2012 on the Anna Ruby Falls trail.  One of the goals of CoTrails is to educate and engage a robust volunteer force to assist with trail maintenance and planning efforts.  Photo credit: USDA Forest Service/Judy Toppins

Trail users of all types take part in a Trails 101 course offered through CoTrails in January 2012 on the Anna Ruby Falls trail. One of the goals of CoTrails is to educate and engage a robust volunteer force to assist with trail maintenance and planning efforts. Photo credit: USDA Forest Service/Judy Toppins

The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests in Georgia receive 2.2 million visitors each year, and their primary activity is use of 850 miles of designated system trails. But it’s not only hikers that take advantage of the recreation opportunities which these trails provide. Cyclists, hunters, anglers, off-highway vehicle enthusiasts and horseback riders all recreate on national forest trails– and they don’t always see eye-to-eye. Read more »

The United States is China’s Soybean Supplier of Choice

Last week was a momentous one for U.S.-China agricultural relations. In addition to the productive meetings that took place in Washington and Des Moines, I was honored to witness the signing of an agreement between the U.S. soybean industry and Chinese buyers who agreed to purchase more than 8.6 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans in the coming year. That’s about $4.3 billion worth of soybeans, or 317 million bushels.

The signing of that purchase agreement represents another very important milestone in the U.S.-China trade relationship, a relationship that continues to grow and flourish – in large part thanks to agricultural trade.  Last fiscal year, for the first time ever, China was the number one market for U.S. food and agricultural exports. And it was also the top market, by far, for U.S. soybeans. In fact, China purchased nearly 60 percent of the U.S. soybeans sold internationally last year. Read more »

Eight Former Secretaries of Agriculture Speaking at USDA’s 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum

A historic gathering of former Secretaries of Agriculture will commemorate USDA’s celebration of the Department’s 150th anniversary and founding in 1862.  On February 23 at the 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will moderate a plenary panel of eight former Secretaries of Agriculture invited to speak on “Agriculture: Visions of the Future” at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va. Read more »