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Field Day Supports Organic Dairy Producers

Dr. Hue Karreman demonstrates how to put your arm inside a cow’s mouth. Photo by Lisa McCrory

Dr. Hue Karreman demonstrates how to put your arm inside a cow’s mouth. Photo by Lisa McCrory

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA) Field Days at Stonewall Farm in Keene, New Hampshire. The field days combine many activities for attending farmers, giving them the opportunity to learn from each other, speak with experts in the organic field, catch up with old friends and make some new friends too.

As Deputy Administrator for USDA’s National Organic Program, part of the Agricultural Marketing Service, I participated in a panel discussion on the future of organic certification with Dr. Jean Richardson, Chair of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), and Henry Perkins, President of the Maine Organic Milk Producers.  I also had the opportunity to present information about the National Organic Program, including USDA’s programs that support organic agriculture, sound and sensible certification, the National Organic Standards Board and the revised sunset process. Read more »

Join Us for a Google+ Hangout: Growing the Organic Sector

On Wednesday, May 14th at 1:00 PM EDT, the USDA’s National Organic Program Specialist Betsy Rakola will host a Google+ Hangout to discuss strategies for growing U.S. organic production. During this Hangout, you’ll hear from farmers, organic certifiers, researchers, and community organizations at the forefront of todays’ organic market.

Participate in the Hangout on Wednesday by watching it live on the USDA Google+ page or on www.usda.gov/live.  Some of the questions we will discuss are: Read more »

Join us for a Google+ Hangout on April 1: Accessing Credit for your Farm or Ranch Business

Accessing credit can be challenging for new farmers and ranchers.  It’s hard to know where to start, what to ask for and, most importantly, who to ask.  USDA is here to help.  We have a portfolio of loan and credit options for farmers and ranchers like you. We also work closely with other financial institutions to make getting credit easier in other ways.

On Tuesday, April 1 at 4 p.m. EDT Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden will host a Google+ Hangout to discuss types of agricultural credit and ways to access them in support of your farm or ranch business.

This Google Hangout is part of a discussion series hosted by Deputy Secretary Harden on the changing face of agriculture and the opportunities presented by a career in farming or ranching. You asked and we listened. Based on your feedback, new farmers and ranchers want to have a larger discussion on accessing credit and the financial know how that goes into starting an operation. Read more »

USDA Celebrates National Nutrition Month and Highlights Efforts to Promote a #HealthierNextGen

Today, as we mark the beginning of National Nutrition Month and the start of National School Breakfast Week, and throughout this month, USDA will be highlighting the work of our programs and partner organizations that support a healthier next generation by improving childhood nutrition and reducing obesity, supporting healthy families, enhancing food access, ensuring food security, promoting local markets, and providing science-based nutrition information and guidance for individuals and policy makers.

Through our nutrition assistance programs, support for farmers and ranchers, and our food safety and regulatory programs, USDA is working hard to ensure that all Americans have access to safe, affordable, healthy food.  The Agricultural Act of 2014 (a.k.a. “the Farm Bill”) which was passed by Congress a little over a month ago, as well as the Healthy Hunger-free Kid’s Act of 2010 enable us to continue making progress in this area, and support the health of our nation’s families. Read more »

Enhanced School Wellness Environments Make the Smart Choice the Easy Choice for a Healthier Next Generation

Given that many children today eat two meals a day at school, it’s vital that we make every effort to ensure that they have access to the healthy foods they need and the knowledge to make healthy choices. The proposed school wellness policy guidelines and the expansion of community eligibility announced by First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the White House this week mark important steps forward.

We are so excited to see all the great progress that is being made in schools today.  Over 90 percent of schools are successfully meeting the new school meal standards, and participation is up in many areas of the country. As more schools, parents, and children continue to embrace healthier school meals, we are seeing great progress in areas such as Dallas, large school districts in Florida, and the city of Los Angeles, where we saw a 14 percent increase under the new standards. Read more »

College Students go Back to Elementary School to Invigorate Kids About the Outdoors

By definition, a partnership involves a relationship in which parties cooperate to advance their mutual interests. Such is the winning combination for two college students who volunteered their time to help the National Forests in North Carolina educate the next generation about a variety of conservation topics.

“I was surprised by how knowledgeable and sharp the kids were, and I think they may have taught me more than I taught them,” said Ryan Johnson, a senior at the University of North Carolina-Asheville. “It was a great experience, especially since I can be very shy and soft spoken. But I felt like I was able to get the kids interested in the topics and, hopefully, make an impact on the next generation of conservationists and outdoors enthusiasts.” Read more »