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Secretary’s Column: A Food, Farm and Jobs Bill: Helping Protect Our Natural Resources

This year, passage of a long-term, comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is critical to providing certainty for U.S. producers. This includes the continued availability of conservation programs that give our farmers, ranchers and private foresters the means to conserve the soil, protect our water and sustain America’s natural resources.

Thanks to programs provided by the Farm Bill, USDA has been able to enroll a record number of private lands in conservation practices. Over the past four years, we have worked with more than 500,000 producers, landowners and private foresters on projects that help the environment, while providing a new source of income.

From May 20 to June 14, USDA is holding the 45th General Signup under the Conservation Reserve Program – another important effort provided by a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. Read more »

From the White House Kitchen: Healthy and Traditional Asian American and Pacific Islander Cuisine

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! Blog:

Growing up in the Philippines, my mother was my main source of inspiration for cooking. I came from a family of eleven kids, and as a child, I would constantly volunteer to help her in the kitchen. My mother would prepare such amazing authentic Filipino food, and cooking for her was almost second nature. She didn’t think about it, she just knew what ingredients to use, how much of each to use, and how to combine their flavors in ways that would satisfy everyone in the family. So Filipino food for me is much more than just adobo, longganisa, or tocino and fried rice – it represents a huge part of my culture, and most importantly, it is what connects me with my family. And that’s why it’s so important to me that we think about Filipino food not just in terms of what’s delicious, but in terms of what’s healthy and nourishing for our families.

That’s why I’ve teamed up with Chef Ming Tsai, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help promote healthy and traditional Asian American and Pacific Islander cuisine. Following a healthy cooking and eating lifestyle has always been important for me as a chef and a mom, and with the USDA’s MyPlate food icon, we have a powerful visual reminder about how to build healthy meals for our families. Read more »

Snake River Project Protects Minnesota Town from Flooding

For years, the community of Warren, Minn., has experienced regular flooding problems from the Snake River. The events have endangered residents, their property and the surrounding farmland.

Working with the city and the Middle-Snake-Tamarac Rivers Watershed District, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has designed a flood control system for Warren with an off-river channel impoundment and a floodway that is helping to mitigate these inundations. Read more »

A Symbol of Strength, Perseverance and Dignity Shared Between Friends

Imagine sitting at your desk one day and answering the ringing phone, only to hear the US State Department’s Office of Protocol on the other end.  That is precisely what happened to Michael Perry, Export Specialist for the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) when he was told President Obama was traveling to Israel in late March and wished to give a special gift to the Israeli people. Read more »

Online Systems Keeps U.S. Ag Exporters Abreast of Regulations in Foreign Markets

The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) recently launched an online system that modernizes the way the agency informs the U.S. agricultural industry regarding changes in international food and agriculture regulations that could affect U.S. exports.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) requires member countries to submit notifications regarding proposed changes to their food regulations, enabling other countries to review and comment on the proposals. The new FAS data management system will help U.S. exporters and other stakeholders to more effectively monitor, evaluate and comment on the measures, keep track of comment deadlines and locate archived information. Read more »

Trout Hatching Gives Students a Window to Conservation

 

Chapman Hill Elementary students monitor the development of rainbow trout eggs they’re raising in their classroom as part of an international fish education project.  (U.S. Forest Service photo/Becky Flitcroft)

Chapman Hill Elementary students monitor the development of rainbow trout eggs they’re raising in their classroom as part of an international fish education project. (U.S. Forest Service photo/Becky Flitcroft)

Recently, elementary students in three Oregon classrooms welcomed a few hundred special guests that required unique accommodations — a small refrigerator, a covered tank, gravel, and a water filter.

The students were part of an international fish education project that connected students in Oregon and Northern Ireland through the common experience of raising and releasing native trout. Read more »