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Removing Barriers to Trade Benefits Our Farmers, Businesses

Today, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released three reports to Congress detailing the Obama Administration’s work to reduce or remove key foreign government barriers to American exports. The reports describe how the Administration has fought for American jobs over the last year by working to reduce or eliminate unwarranted sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) and technical barriers to trade (TBT) as well as other significant barriers to American exports.

Just a few weeks removed from the historic implementation of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement, and as our officials wrap up USDA’s largest-ever agricultural trade mission to China today, we are reminded that the strength of the U.S. agricultural economy is directly connected to an open system of international trade, free from unwarranted and unjustified barriers. Read more »

Support for Mothers During Women’s History Month and Beyond

A local WIC staff member holds her sleeping baby as she listens to the peer counseling instructor.

A local WIC staff member holds her sleeping baby as she listens to the peer counseling instructor.

March is Women’s History month, a time when we highlight everything woman.  In the midst of farming and biofuels, research and forestry would you believe that the USDA also finds time to promote breastfeeding?  The answer is absolutely!  You already know that the agency supports a myriad of nutrition programs to help make America’s children healthy and hunger-free.  Research has shown that there is no better food than breast milk for a baby’s first year of life. Breastfeeding provides many health, nutritional, economical and emotional benefits to mother and baby. Since a major goal of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) Program is to improve the nutritional status of infants, WIC mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their infants. WIC promotes breastfeeding to all pregnant women as the optimal infant feeding choice, unless medically contraindicated.  So what exactly is WIC doing to support breastfeeding?  The answer is a lot! Read more »

Maryland 4-H Members Gets Hands Dirty with the First Lady

Working in the dirt is no big deal for 4-H member Josh Tice. However, it’s not every day he gets invited to help First Lady Michelle Obama plant a cherry blossom tree in honor of the 100th anniversary of Japan’s gift to the United States.

Josh, and his mom and dad, Deana and Josiah, were on hand last Tuesday for the event in Washington, DC. Josh was one of six young people selected to participate alongside the First Lady. During the event, Josh was able to meet Mrs. Obama and even give her a hug. Naturally though, his 4-H side shined through as he said his favorite part of the event was scooping up dirt for the actual planting. Read more »

Leave Hungry Pests Behind for Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month

The Asian longhorned beetle is a large, showy beetle that is a voracious consumer of many tree species, such as maples.

The Asian longhorned beetle is a large, showy beetle that is a voracious consumer of many tree species, such as maples.

April flowers and fresh spring foliage beckon us outside to enjoy a picnic, hike, or gardening project.  But we’re not the only ones being beckoned.  Invasive pests are also coming out.  They’re hungry, and your state is on their menu.

That’s why USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has dedicated April as Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month, when what’s at risk is so vibrant—even as certain invasive pests begin to emerge with the blossoms.  Some of the pests we’re targeting include the giant African snail, Mediterranean fruit fly, and sudden oak death disease. Read more »

Energy Questions? Ask Secretary Vilsack using #AskUSDA!

Do you have an interest in U.S. energy policy? Are you in the ag sector looking for options in renewable energy?  Here’s your chance to ask USDA!

On Thursday, April 5 at 1:30pm ET, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack himself will sit down for 45 minutes to answer YOUR questions on the Department’s renewable energy programs, and how USDA is helping build a secure energy future for America.  Just submit them to the @USDA Twitter account using the hashtag #AskUSDA. Read more »

Keeping South Dakota Communities Strong and Vibrant

This week, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) state offices in South Dakota. While there, I spoke with local residents about overarching Department-level priorities, as well as the many opportunities, programs, and services these folks have at their disposal, thanks to USDA.

This listening session was a wonderful opportunity to hear about both the successes and concerns of local South Dakota residents. We spoke about everything from flooding to program streamlining to fears of staff reduction. Read more »