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USDA Support Helps Foundry Workers Save their Jobs

It has been nine years since the employees of the Mereen-Johnson Foundry banded together and risked their retirement savings in order to keep their jobs and secure a future for themselves and their families by buying the foundry.  Dakota Foundry, Inc. is a manufacturer of gray and ductile iron castings, located in Webster, South Dakota, and it was on the brink of closure until the employees stepped up to the plate. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Ready to Help Pass a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill

In recent months, the Federal budget has dominated the conversation here in Washington.  At the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we have been working hard on mission critical priorities, even as we implement mandatory across-the-board budget cuts.

The good news is that our proactive efforts to cut costs have saved more than $828 million in recent years, putting us in a better position to deliver important programs.

But we also have not lost sight of a key requirement for these programs to continue: passage of a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. Read more »

Conservation Makes a Difference in Drought-Stricken Areas

Rancher Willie Utley of Benavides, Texas and Sammy Guerra, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationist in Benavides, Tex., discuss the successful drilling of the water well they’re standing behind. (NRCS photo/Beverly Moseley)

Rancher Willie Utley of Benavides, Texas and Sammy Guerra, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationist in Benavides, Tex., discuss the successful drilling of the water well they’re standing behind. (NRCS photo/Beverly Moseley)

For months, South Texas ranchers have been struggling to keep cattle fed and watered through extraordinary drought conditions. Water wells and stock tanks have run dry, and some ranchers are left with no alternative but to truck water in to cattle. Read more »

SNAP: New Rules Aim to Expand Access to Farmers’ Markets!

USDA is working hard to expand access to farmers’ markets for those participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). (used with permission)

USDA is working hard to expand access to farmers’ markets for those participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). (used with permission)

As USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, I can tell you that there are few things I enjoy more than visiting one of the many thousands of farmers’ markets in communities across our verdant country. There’s just no better opportunity to sample the bounty of American agriculture.

The fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods you can find at farmers’ markets are the foundation of sound nutrition. Which is why USDA is working hard to expand access to farmers’ markets for those participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Read more »

FAS-Supported Project Helps Pakistani Farmers Reach Modern Markets

A Pakistani farmer from the Balochistan Province picks grapes. With the help of the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Food for Progress program, Winrock International partnered with the Safina Cold Store to provide an in-kind grant of modern equipment and remodel the facilities — upgrading the cold store to a modern storage facility for locally produced apples, grapes, pomegranates and dates throughout the year.  (Courtesy Photo)

A Pakistani farmer from the Balochistan Province picks grapes. With the help of the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Food for Progress program, Winrock International partnered with the Safina Cold Store to provide an in-kind grant of modern equipment and remodel the facilities — upgrading the cold store to a modern storage facility for locally produced apples, grapes, pomegranates and dates throughout the year. (Courtesy Photo)

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) partners with a variety of non-profit groups, cooperatives and international organizations to promote food security and develop agricultural capacity in countries around the world. Recently, I had a chance to read a report that highlights the successful partnership between FAS and Winrock International in Pakistan that I wanted to share with blog readers. Read more »

The International Influences of Cinco de Mayo Favorites

Learn about some Cinco de Mayo staples by exploring our infographic (click for larger version).

Learn about some Cinco de Mayo staples by exploring our infographic (click for larger version).

Cinco de Mayo is more than a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage.  With its American roots planted during the Civil War, the fifth of May is also a celebration of freedom and victory over odds.  Over the years the holiday has become more mainstream, with celebrations that bring together music, art and cuisine shaped by the rich culture and international influences of Mexico and Latin America. Read more »