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Overflow Crowd for Job and Economic Growth Forum in Montgomery, Alabama

Stormy, cold, unpleasant weather did not hinder more than 125 people from attending the Job and Economic Growth Forum in Montgomery, Alabama last month hosted by USDA Rural Development and the USDA Farm Service Agency, as a follow-up to the Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth that President Obama hosted at the White House on in December of last year. Read more »

Deputy Secretary Merrigan Brings ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’ College Tour to Utah State University

Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan was at Utah State University yesterday, for a presentation to local leaders and students interested in food and agricultural policy. Attendees filled the auditorium to capacity with standing room only in the aisles to hear about what USDA is doing to strengthen the connection between farmers and consumers. Read more »

National Nutrition Month “Green Nutrition—Local, Sustainable, Healthy Eating”

With 3,000 employees and visitors stopping by the U.S. Department of Agriculture cafeterias on a  daily basis, I was pleased to kick off the annual  National Nutrition Month at the  South Building Cafeteria at the USDA  headquarters here in Washington today.  I was joined by fellow USDA employees to introduce the 2010 theme “Green Nutrition—Local, Sustainable, Healthy Eating.”   This year’s event and theme are special to us because Secretary Vilsack and I have made nutrition and healthy living a top priority at USDA through the “Know Your Farmer,  Know Your Food” initiative. Read more »

School Breakfast Program in Bolivia Improves Children’s Health and Academic Performance

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and in Bolivia, this couldn’t be truer. In Bolivia, more than 162,000 children in 2,240 schools ate what was likely their only meal five days a week thanks to a Project Concern International (PCI) program funded by USDA’s McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition (McGovern-Dole) Program.

About three-fourths of Bolivia’s population survives on two dollars a day and 26 percent of the population is chronically malnourished. Development is hindered by a lack of education, especially among girls, poor agricultural practices and limited infrastructure.

To remedy this situation, USDA donated more than 17,000 tons of wheat, wheat-soy blend, vegetable oil, peas and bulgur valued at more than $4 million to PCI under a three-year McGovern-Dole Program agreement starting in fiscal year 2005. The commodities and cash provided by USDA were used by PCI to develop school feeding programs in 65 municipalities in the departments of Cochabamba, La Paz, Oruro and Potosi. Read more »

Children Of Senegal Directly Benefit From USDA’s McGovern-Dole International Food For Education Program

In keeping with USDA’s commitment to addressing global food insecurity through school feeding programs, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA will donate more than 100,000 tons of U.S. agricultural commodities valued at nearly $170 million in fiscal year 2010 under the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition (McGovern-Dole) Program.

The McGovern-Dole Program helps support education, child development and food security in low-income, food-deficit countries that are committed to universal education. The program has helped feed millions of children over the years and one example of the success of this program can be found in Senegal.

Children in 112 primary schools and 21 pre-schools and mothers and infants in 58 maternal and child health nutrition (MCHN) centers in the Matam region of Senegal are eating a daily meal and much more due to a Counterpart International (CPI) project funded by USDA’s McGovern-Dole Program. Read more »

National Roundtable on Ongoing Opportunities for Latinos in Natural Resources at USDA

On Tuesday, February 23, 2010, USDA hosted a National Roundtable on Ongoing Opportunities for Latinos in Natural Resources at USDA in Washington, D.C.

Over 80 people, including 25 Latino/Hispanic community based organizations and community leaders gathered at the Whitten Building with officials from Office of the Secretary, Rural Development Mission Area (RD), Natural Resources and Environment Mission Area (NRE) and other agencies to discuss environmental and community issues impacting the Latino/Hispanic communities around the United States.  The excitement over the Latino issues was evident in the discussions, networking and development of new relationships that took place during the afternoon roundtable.

Oscar Gonzalez, Deputy Director, Intergovernmental Affairs opened the roundtable.  Carole Jett, Deputy Chief of Staff, addressed the participants and introduced Dallas Tonsager, Under Secretary, RD and Jay Jensen, Deputy Under Secretary, NRE.  “Your input in identifying issues, obstacles and opportunities are important to us and will be provided to the USDA agencies and the Office of the Secretary,” said Gonzales.

Almost everyone in attendance, whether a community based organization, farm group, government or the private sector, said they felt the Hispanic community is still lacking access to USDA information and services.  Roger Rivera, President, National Hispanic Environmental Council mentioned that “It is a new day at USDA under the leadership of Secretary Vilsack.  We appreciate his outreach to farmworkers, Hispanic Farmers and Ranchers, and today…Latino environmental leaders.”  The need for a streamlined, simplified job application processes for Federal jobs was highlighted.   Federal Government funding for environmental innovative projects and initiatives was identified as a major issue, as was a general lack of information about USDA agricultural programs, services and how and where to apply for those services. These issues, as well as several others, were discussed by a representative of each organization.

USDA officials discussed the resources that are invested around the country, including funding for community infrastructure and facilities, housing, broadband, biomass and conservation, and farming.  The USDA officials greatly appreciate the time and input offered by each participant.

Latino Roundtable Photo Latino Roundtable Meeting at USDA

Submitted by Jorge Comas, USDA Office of Communications.

Spanish version below:

Mesa Redonda Nacional Sobre las Oportunidades Que Ofrece USDA en Recursos Naturales para los Latinos

El Martes, 23 de Febrero de 2010, el USDA en Washingon, D.C. fue el patrocinador de una Reunión de Mesa Redonda Nacional Sobre las Oportunidades Que Ofrece USDA en Recursos Naturales para los Latinos.

Mas de 80 personas, incluyendo 25 representantes de organizaciones de la comunidad Latina/Hispana se reunieron en el Edificio Whitten localizado en el Departamento de Agricultura de los Estado Unidos en Washington, D.C.  Estas organizaciones se reunieron con oficiales de la oficina del Secretario de Agricultura, el Area de Misión para Desarollo Rural, el Area de Misión para Recursos Naturales y Ambiente y otras agencias para discutir asuntos ambientales y de la communidad que estan impactando la comunidad Latina/Hispana alrededor de los Estados Unidos.  Durante la reunión de mesa redonda de una tarde, la emoción de los participanes era evidente al discutir los asuntos, la comunicación entre los differentes grupos y el desarollo de nuevas relaciones.

El Sub Director de Asuntos Intergubernamentales, Oscar Gonzales comenzó la reunión.  La Asistente del Jefe de Personal de USDA, Carole Jett, le hablo a los participantes y presentó el Secretario Adjunto de Desarollo Rural, Dallas Tonsager y el Sub-Secretario Adjunto de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente, Jay Jensen.  “Sus recomendaciones al identificar los asuntos, obstaculos y oportunidades son importantes para nosotros.  Las recomendaciones seran compartidas con las agencias de USDA y la Oficina del Secretario”, dijo Gonzales.

Casi todos los participantes de la reunión, organizaciones de la comunidad, grupos agrícolas, del gobierno o del sector privado , indicaron que todavía en la comunidad Hispana existe la falta de acceso a información y servicios ofrecidos por el USDA.  El Presidente del National Hispanic Environmental Council, Roger Rivera indico que, “Este es un nuevo día en el USDA bajo el liderato de el Secretario Vilsack.  Nosotros apreciamos los trabajos de promoción y alcance que el Secretario ha hecho con los trabajadores agrícolas, agricultores y ganaderos Hispanos, y hoy… con los lideres ambientales Latinos.”  La necesidad de modernizar y simplificar el proceso de solicitudes para trabajo Federal fue resaltada.  Los fondos federales para proyectos e iniciativas ambientales innovadoras fue identificado como un asunto primordial, también la falta de información sobre los programas y servicios agrícolas del USDA y como y donde solicitar estos servicios.  Éstos y varios otros asuntos fueron discutidos por los representantes de las organizaciones.

Los oficiales representando al USDA hablaron sobre los recursos y fondos invertidos atravez de la nación, inlcuyendo fondos para infraestructura y facilidades para la comunidad, vivienda, comunicaciones de banda amplia, biomasa, conservación y agricultura.  Los oficiales del USDA le dan las más expresivas gracias por su tiempo, participación e información ofrecida a cada participante.

Sometido por Jorge Comas, USDA Office of Communications.