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Secretary’s Column: Common-Sense Efficiencies and Record Accomplishments

On March 1, across-the-board spending cuts, known here in Washington as “the sequester,” took effect when Congress was unable to reach a new agreement on the budget. These cuts are required by law for every item within USDA’s budget, and they will impact all of the work we do in some way.

Under the Obama Administration, USDA already has made historic efforts to streamline operations and safeguard taxpayer dollars. Under our Blueprint for Stronger Service, we have carried out workforce reductions, closed offices and laboratories, and streamlined IT services. We have cut our travel costs by more than 42 percent since 2010. We’re always looking for new ways to save more.

These targeted efforts have already saved taxpayers more than $700 million. In fact, our operating budget today is lower than it was in 2009. Read more »

On International Women’s Day, A Tribute to Women in Agriculture

Rossie Fisher, co-owner of Brookview Farm in Manakin-Sabot, VA. March 8 is International Women's Day.

Rossie Fisher, co-owner of Brookview Farm in Manakin-Sabot, VA. March 8 is International Women's Day.

Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day. What better day to recognize the incredible achievements of women in agriculture?

Women have always played a key role on the farm or ranch. Traditionally, women often kept the books and ensured the solvency of the business while men ran the day-to-day production operation. Read more »

Women’s History Month – Forest Service Scientist Shows Grace and Compassion While Working her Way to the Top

Barbara C. Weber in 1993 as director of the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station. (Photo courtesy Barbara C. Weber)

Barbara C. Weber in 1993 as director of the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station. (Photo courtesy Barbara C. Weber)

As the oldest of 11 children, Barbara C. Weber is accustomed to being the “first.” With top family ranking comes responsibility, and Weber had plenty of it.

Growing up on her family’s 160-acre dairy farm in Bloomington, Wis., Weber, along with her siblings, helped clean the barn, pick up eggs and tend to the animals.  Her innate curiosity and connection to nature led to her love of science. Read more »

USDA Celebrates First Ever International School Meals Day

Students across the country will celebrate International School Meals Day with special events, like international food taste testings. Lentils, like those pictured in this lentil stew, are high in protein and eaten in abundance throughout Mediterranean countries and West Asia.

Students across the country will celebrate International School Meals Day with special events, like international food taste testings. Lentils, like those pictured in this lentil stew, are high in protein and eaten in abundance throughout Mediterranean countries and West Asia.

They say that March comes in roaring like a lion and USDA certainly plans to start the month strong by doing something we’ve never done before. We have helped connect 28 schools in the United States and the United Kingdom that are leading the way in promoting healthy living to celebrate the very first International School Meals Day. Read more »