Celebrating USDA’s 150th Anniversary at the Iowa Birthplace of Former Agriculture Secretary Henry A. Wallace
I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the birthplace of former Agriculture Secretary Henry A. Wallace during a recent trip to Iowa. In fact, my tour of the farm near Orient in south central Iowa happened to be May 15, the day the USDA celebrated its 150th anniversary.
Wallace was Secretary of the Agriculture from March 4, 1933 until September 4, 1940. He served as Vice President of the United States from 1941 to 1945 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was also Secretary of Commerce from 1945 to 1946.
Wallace is perhaps the 20th Century’s most well-known Ag Secretary and his accomplishments are monumental.
He helped guide the creation of the Farm Security Administration, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation and the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). USDA Rural Development, the mission area that I lead, traces its roots back to the REA.
Food stamps (now the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) and the school lunch programs were also started during Wallace’s time as Ag Secretary. Wallace was also dedicated to research and science. The USDA’s research center in Beltsville, Maryland, became the largest and most varied scientific research station in the world during his time as Secretary.
My visit to Wallace’s birthplace also served another purpose as the Wallace Centers of Iowa recently received a $50,000 Rural Business Opportunity Grant from USDA Rural Development to help establish their newest program called One Step at a Time.
This program is helping farmers in southwest Iowa add value to the fruit and vegetable they harvest by providing guidance and training on such things as food safety protocols, recipe development and testing and product placement.
More and more people want to know where their food is coming from and are requesting locally grown foods. They also recognize the importance of supporting local producers and local economies.
I want to thank Diane Weiland and all her wonderful staff for such a great time at the Henry A. Wallace Country Life Center. It was a tremendous way to celebrate the 150th anniversary.
Throughout 2012, USDA will continue to commemorate the positive impacts the department has on the life of Americans each day. USDA still fulfills President Lincoln’s vision through our work on food, agriculture, economic development, science, natural resource conservation and a host of issues, touching the lives of every American, every day.
Visit www.usda.gov/usda150 to learn more about USDA’s history and plans for the future.