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Honoring a Legacy of Service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Secretary Vilsack thanked the employees of USDA for their work in support of Dr. King’s life and legacy of service to the American people. You can read his letter below:

On Monday, we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man whose legacy in support of a unified and equal America gives profound meaning to what our efforts in public service can and should look like. Dr. King believed we are each stronger when we lift up our neighbors. He lived his life advocating on behalf of the idea that we are better as a nation when no one is left behind.

As we enter the final year of this Administration and I begin to look back on the progress we’ve made as a Department, I’d like to reflect on the ways the dedicated employees of USDA have honored Dr. King’s dream by creating opportunities for—and upholding the unalienable rights of—every American. Read more »

Introducing USDA Results, a Year-Long Storytelling Effort of the Obama Administration’s Work on Behalf of Those Living, Working and Raising Families in Rural America

Today, USDA is launching USDA Results, a progressive, year-long, multimedia storytelling effort showcasing the Administration’s work on behalf of those living, working and raising families in rural America. Each month, USDA will release a new chapter of the story at medium.com/usda-results. We encourage you to check out January’s chapter, Celebrating America’s Farmers and Ranchers: Supporting the Producers Who Ensure a Safe, Affordable, Nutritious American Food Supply, and follow along throughout 2016.

When I began my service as Secretary of Agriculture in 2009, I took the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nickname of the ‘People’s Department’—first coined by President Abraham Lincoln—to heart.

President Lincoln knew the importance of agriculture to national prosperity—particularly at a time when about half of all Americans lived on the farm. He understood the critical responsibility of USDA and government to serve and support American agriculture and the rural communities who have, since the founding of our country, helped to drive innovation and economic growth on a national scale.   Read more »

Rural Veterans, Thank You for Your Service

Today is Veterans Day, and I’d like to take a moment to honor the men and women of our military. Every day, they confront and triumph over those that threaten our national security in order to keep us safe. America’s veterans embody the values that stand at the heart of rural America: hard work, a love of their country, and a sense of duty and sacrifice to give back to the land that has done so much for us all.

To the USDA employees who have served America in uniform, and to those who support family members and loved ones who serve, I offer a sincere and heartfelt thank you. USDA’s staff across the country now includes more than 11,000 veterans. In recent years, we’ve expanded our commitment to bringing on board more former service members, participating in a wide variety of veterans’ hiring efforts coordinated by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. We’ve also created a USDA Veterans Employment Program office, through which any veteran who contacts us has access to counseling, career help, and consideration for employment.  Read more »

USDA, California Department of Agriculture and Oakland Athletics Partner to Promote Food Safety Education Month

Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Alfred V. Almanza, California Department of Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, and Oakland A’s player Mark Canha visited a California elementary school to teach students about food safety.

Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Alfred V. Almanza, California Department of Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, and Oakland A’s player Mark Canha visited a California elementary school to teach students about food safety.

This week Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Alfred V. Almanza, California Department of Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, and Oakland A’s player Mark Canha visited a California elementary school to teach students about food safety. The visit is part of a USDA effort to promote public understanding of foodborne illness during Food Safety Education Month, which occurs every September.

An estimated 1 in 6 (48 million) Americans get sick from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children are among the most vulnerable to food poisoning because their immune systems are still developing, so caregivers need to take extra precautions when preparing and packing healthy, safe school lunches Read more »

Veteran Farmers, In Their Own Voice


“Agriculture is not often the first thing people think of for returning veterans. That’s why we are elevating the discussion about veterans and agriculture.”  ~Secretary Vilsack

 This week, USDA hosted a meeting with veterans to discuss their experiences in agriculture, their food businesses and what the most pressing needs are for veterans participating in agriculture with  Secretary Vilsack, Deputy Secretary Harden and Military Veterans Agriculture Liaison Karis Gutter.

This week, USDA hosted a meeting with veterans to discuss their experiences in agriculture, their food businesses and what the most pressing needs are for veterans participating in agriculture with Secretary Vilsack, Deputy Secretary Harden and Military Veterans Agriculture Liaison Karis Gutter.

This week, Secretary Vilsack, Deputy Secretary Harden and I met with 35 military veterans who are now farmers and ranchers. Hosted by the Farmer Veteran Coalition and the Farm Credit Council, these men and women came to USDA to discuss the opportunities and resources available to veterans interested in agriculture. Many of them participate in the Homegrown by Heroes campaign which celebrates local products grown, raised and produced by farmer veterans across the country.

As the Department’s Military Veteran Agricultural Liaison and a veteran of the Marine Corps myself, I know there are many reasons military veterans turn to agriculture. For some, running a farm business gives them an opportunity to put their logistical training to work. For others, farming lets them continue serving their community. Many veterans talk about how working on the land helps them successfully transition to civilian life. And still others discuss how agriculture gives them purpose.

No one can explain the deep connection between veterans and agriculture better than veteran farmers themselves. Here are a few of their voices. Read more »

Serving Rural America’s Kids and Families

Every parent’s wish is for their children to thrive and prosper. Yet, too many of our nation’s families still live in poverty, despite doing their best to make ends meet. Rural families and children have additional challenges as schools, healthcare services, healthy food choices, jobs, and other opportunities are often miles away in a different town, county or even state. The Obama Administration is committed to these families, and believes that all children — no matter where they live —  should have an opportunity to succeed.

Today, President Obama and I met with eight members of the National 4-H community in the Oval Office. Each one of them had an inspiring story about how they are opening up new doors for kids in their hometowns, and how this work is building stronger communities where they can learn, play and grow.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to these young leaders and tell you about the projects that encouraged President Obama to invite them to the White House to say “thank you”.  Investing in kids like these is an investment in America’s future. Read more »