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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 »

Deputy Secretary Holds Roundtable Discussion with Tribal Leaders in South Dakota

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, right of center, hosted two roundtable meetings in Lower Brule, SD on Feb. 28, 2013. Deputy Secretary Merrigan held a press availability with tribal leaders to reaffirm the Obama Administration’s commitment to Indian Country and highlight the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) efforts to promote business development and job creation in rural South Dakota. USDA photo by Tammi Shone.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, right of center, hosted two roundtable meetings in Lower Brule, SD on Feb. 28, 2013. Deputy Secretary Merrigan held a press availability with tribal leaders to reaffirm the Obama Administration’s commitment to Indian Country and highlight the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) efforts to promote business development and job creation in rural South Dakota. USDA photo by Tammi Shone.

Last week, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan led a USDA delegation deep into the heart of Indian Country in South Dakota.  All three of us and our teams from USDA’s South Dakota state offices for Rural Development, the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service were joined by the Acting Director of the USDA Office of Tribal Relations, Max Finberg, along with Darlene Barnes, the regional director of the Food and Nutrition Service, and South Dakota’s Agriculture Commissioner Walt Bones.  We were hosted by the Crow Creek and Lower Brule Sioux nations in the center of our state.  The Deputy Secretary held a roundtable discussion on the importance of agriculture and economic development in Indian Country and visited a unique Native American food company.  She was joined by many tribal leaders and organizations, including farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs. Read more »

Super-Sized Goldfish Pose Giant Problem for Lake Tahoe

Brianne O’Rourke, with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, holds a large goldfish found in the Tahoe Keys of Lake Tahoe. (Photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Brianne O’Rourke, with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, holds a large goldfish found in the Tahoe Keys of Lake Tahoe. (Photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Lake Tahoe, the country’s highest alpine lake, is no goldfish bowl.

But U.S. Forest Service fish biologists with the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit said they’re well-acquainted with the big goldfish – several pounds and up to 4 to 8 inches long – living in the large freshwater lake along the border between California and Nevada. Read more »

USDA Releases New Maps Identifying Major Crop Producing Areas in the United States and Abroad

One of 40 new  maps  showing major crop-producing areas in the United States and other nations.

One of 40 new maps showing major crop-producing areas in the United States and other nations.

A total of 40 new maps have been prepared, showing major crop-producing areas in the United States, China, India, Pakistan, and South Africa.  Earlier versions of these maps appeared in the Major World Crop Areas and Climatic Profiles (MWCACP) handbook that contains climatological data, agricultural statistics, and crop calendar information for major agricultural areas worldwide, and serves as a reference for evaluating the effects of weather on world crop production.  The new maps, listed by country and commodity, supplement the MWCACP publication by updating illustrations of cropping patterns in these countries: Read more »

USDA Offices in Delaware/Maryland and New York Host Meetings to Boost Lending to Rural Businesses

Stakeholders meet with USDA staff in New York recently to discuss ways to use Rural Development programs to help small businesses create jobs and grow businesses. USDA photo.

Stakeholders meet with USDA staff in New York recently to discuss ways to use Rural Development programs to help small businesses create jobs and grow businesses. USDA photo.

Last month, USDA Rural Development’s Delaware – Maryland State Office and the State Office staff in New York hosted roundtable discussions on Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) availability.  RLF programs are unique programs that provide funds to local and regional organizations to capitalize and operate revolving loan funds.  Revolving loan funds are used to assist with business financing and economic development activities to create and/or retain jobs in disadvantaged and remote communities.  As such, these are programs that have great potential for meeting USDA’s rural economic mandate in a time of scarce federal funding. Read more »

Growers’ Input Shapes 2013 Growing Season

A statistician’s work is never done.   Just as we are starting to wrap up data collection for the 2012 Census of Agriculture, interviewers representing the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) are already visiting thousands of farmers across the United States to find out their 2013 planting intentions.

While all of our surveys are important in their own right, the March Agricultural Survey stands out.  For those not familiar with our reports, the Prospective Plantings is one of the most anticipated publications of the year.   Commodity traders around the world wait for this report to give them an early indication of the upcoming year’s U.S. crop production.  As a result, the information that producers report to NASS can impact business decisions of input providers, farmers, agricultural lenders and others, as well as commodity prices. Read more »