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Illinois Celebrates 150 Years of USDA

USDA and FAC members enjoy the cake with candles representing 150 years of service.

USDA and FAC members enjoy the cake with candles representing 150 years of service.

“How many of you here today have done business with or been helped by USDA in some way?” The master of ceremonies, Rita Frazer with RFD Radio, asked a crowd of 200 at the recent USDA 150 Years celebration in Illinois.

The event took place on Ag Day at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. USDA was founded in 1862 by Abraham Lincoln, who called it “the people’s department.” Illinois was, famously, Lincoln’s home state.

The Illinois sesquicentennial celebration was coordinated by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rural Development and Farm Service Agency. Frazer recognized the other 14 agencies within USDA listed on the program and introduced members of the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research who were in attendance.

Former Secretary John Block was guest speaker for the USDA 150 celebration.

Former Secretary John Block was guest speaker for the USDA 150 celebration.

The presentations included the reading of the Governor’s Proclamation by Acting Illinois Director of Agriculture Bob Flider and a letter from Illinois Senator Durbin read by Stacey Hackler, staff assistant to the senator. Vocalist Elizabeth Eckert, contestant from the TV hit American Idol, sang a few songs, and a cake with candles spelling out 150 was lit by former USDA Secretary John Block, an Illinois native, who gave a short speech.

Frazer wrapped up the celebration by saying, “As we commemorate 150 years of accomplishments, USDA looks to the future. We work to make USDA a more modern and effective service provider and to deliver the best possible results for the American people.”

Oh, and when the crowd was asked whether they had done business with or been helped by USDA in some way? Almost everyone raised their hands.

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Elizabeth Eckert sings “Proud to Be an American.”

Elizabeth Eckert sings “Proud to Be an American.”

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