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Secretary’s Column: The President’s 2014 Budget Proposal

This week, President Obama released his budget proposal for the Federal government, including USDA, for Fiscal Year 2014.

Today, the Federal budget is more important than ever. The American people expect and deserve a government that operates efficiently and effectively. We must carry out our mission while safeguarding taxpayer dollars.

Our USDA employees have worked hard in recent years to manage with fewer resources. The Department’s discretionary budget that funds our operations is lower today than it was in 2009 – but we are still getting the job done. Read more »

Meet Mark Underberg, Meat and Poultry Import Inspector

Import Inspector Mark Underberg.

Import Inspector Mark Underberg.

Integrity. It is a word to live by. And Mark Underberg, an import inspector with the Import Inspection Division in the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) Office of International Affairs, takes it seriously. “Your decisions have to be fair and consistent,” he says. “And once you have a solid decision, you stand by it.” It is this same integrity that has driven Underberg throughout his life.  Read more »

Interested in Feeding Kids this Summer When School is Out? Join Our Twitter Chat Using #SummerMeals!

Join @USDANutrition for a Twitter chat on Summer Meals tomorrow at 3pmET. Use #summermeals to participate.

Join @USDANutrition for a Twitter chat on Summer Meals tomorrow at 3pmET. Use #summermeals to participate.

Want to help feed kids when school gets out? The USDA is hosting a “Help Serve #SummerMeals This Year” Twitter Town Hall this Friday, April 12, 2013 at 3:00 pm EST to inform and inspire organizations across the country to become a summer meal site when school lets out this year.  The Twitter Town Hall will feature USDA Undersecretary Kevin Concannon as well as partner organizations including the Food Research and Action Center, D.C. Hunger Solutions, New York City Coalition Against Hunger, and Food Bank of the Rockies.  Summer meal sites can be almost anywhere including parks, recreation centers, schools, libraries, places of worship, hospitals, and even mobile food trucks. If you have questions like: Read more »

New Reports Provide Greater Market Transparency

Earlier this year, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published the first Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) Wholesale Pork reports.  This was the culmination of a process that started when Congress passed the Mandatory Price Reporting Act of 2010, which added wholesale pork cuts to the commodities required to be reported by packers.  Cattle, swine, sheep, boxed beef, boxed lamb, and imported lamb meat already were covered under the program.

Using negotiated rulemaking – a process that allows more interaction with stakeholders than formal rulemaking – AMS developed the rule with the Wholesale Pork Reporting Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, which included pork producers, pork packers, processors, retailers, buyers, and other interested stakeholders.  By working directly with a range of stakeholders, USDA ensured that the final rule had support throughout the industry. Read more »

US Forest Service Honors Outstanding Achievements in Conservation

An educational program about bats, an effort to increase Dusky Canada goose breeding and an annual bird migration celebration are among the winners of the 2013 Wings Across the Americas Conservation Awards.

The U.S. Forest Service awards were presented recently during the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Arlington, Va. Winners for outstanding work in the conservation of birds, bats, butterflies or dragonflies included Forest Service employees and the agency’s partners.  Read more »

Shade-Grown Coffee Protects Puerto Rico Bay Coral Reefs

Shade-grown coffee helps protect water quality and coral reefs like this one in Puerto Rico. NOAA photo.

Shade-grown coffee helps protect water quality and coral reefs like this one in Puerto Rico. NOAA photo.

I work for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency that helps farmers voluntarily implement conservation practices on their lands across the U.S.—including land on my home, Puerto Rico.

I am extremely proud of recent NRCS efforts here to help farmers, ranchers and landowners make significant strides in conserving the Guánica Bay/Rio Loco watershed. This watershed, which is about 100 miles southwest of San Juan, is one of the most diverse and complex in Puerto Rico. Read more »