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2013 USDOT TIGER Awards Help Rural Communities Thrive

Rural communities are the life blood of our great nation. Here at USDA we work every day to make sure that rural Americans have access to programs that help them create opportunity across America’s small towns and communities.

Tomorrow, I will sit down with the members of the White House Rural Council to discuss ways we can continue to address the many unique challenges facing rural America. Today, in advance of our meeting, I am pleased to highlight an effort by the U.S. Department of Transportation to strengthen one of the key objectives of the White House Rural Council by increasing access to dependable transportation in rural communities across 23 states.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx explains more about this effort in a blog from the U.S. Department of Transportation Blog: Read more »

Calling All Ag Supporters: Tell us What’s at Stake Without #MyFarmBill

At USDA, we remain committed to sharing with all Americans the need for a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill to keep up momentum in American agriculture, grow the rural economy and create jobs.  And today, we launched Instagram, @USDAgov, to highlight photos and videos from around the country that bring into your home the dynamic beauty of rural America and the hard work of people who live there.

But that’s not all – we want to hear from you! Read more »

Full Disclosure: Changes to Poultry Inspections Needed to Protect Public Health

Cross posted from Food Safety News:

For the past 15 years, USDA conducted a pilot project to inform how we modernize our inspection process – all to ensure that meat and poultry is safe to eat. Today, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), released a report on the project, known as the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), and how FSIS has relied on it to propose a modernized approach to inspecting poultry.

While an initial scan of the press coverage may lead you to believe that GAO discredits this proposal, that is not the case. GAO gave HIMP a thorough review and made just two recommendations, both of which FSIS is already working to fulfill.

GAO chose not to include some facts that also deserve public disclosure. FSIS put forward this proposal because data shows that a system like HIMP will prevent at least 5,000 more foodborne illnesses annually. The study that FSIS has conducted of HIMP provides an appropriate basis on which to judge the merits of this system. Approximately 10 years ago, FSIS asked an independent group of experts in poultry microbiology, statistical evaluation, poultry food safety and public health to evaluate our study. Read more »

Schools Around the Country Successfully Implementing New Meal Standards

Today a news report claimed that schools across the country are dropping out of the National School Lunch Program because the standards are too difficult to implement.

The truth is that the vast majority of schools across the country are meeting the updated meal standards successfully, which is so important to help all our Nations children lead healthier lives. Even before the new standards took effect and more resources were available, many schools across the country were leading the way with healthier options and appropriate portion sizes. In fact, schools that adopted the changes earlier report that participation increased as students and parents became accustomed to the healthier options. USDA continues to provide additional flexibility and technical assistance to schools as they all now work to offer healthier meals. We also encourage the very few eligible school districts that have chosen not to participate in the program to take steps to ensure all children will still have access to healthy, affordable meals during the school day. Read more »

What Does It Cost to Raise a Child?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s  (USDA) annual report on the Expenditures on Children by Families has found that a middle-income family with a child born in 2012 can expect to spend about $241,080 for food, shelter, and other necessities associated with child rearing expenses over the next 17 years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) annual report on the Expenditures on Children by Families has found that a middle-income family with a child born in 2012 can expect to spend about $241,080 for food, shelter, and other necessities associated with child rearing expenses over the next 17 years.

How much will that little bundle of joy cost? According to USDA’s Cost of Raising a Child report, the answer for a child born in 2012 is $241,080 for food, shelter and other necessities over the next 17 years, which translates to about $301,970 when adjusted for inflation!

Speaking as a father and a grandfather, I know how much we as parents want to give our children the tools they need to excel at anything they set their minds to—from the essentials, like a roof over their heads and a quality education, to the fun stuff, like a brand new soccer ball, piano lessons or a trip to summer camp. We work hard to ensure our children’s future happiness and success each and every day. Read more »

Ready, Set, Learn: USDA Lessons for Our Nation’s Next Generation

Photo Courtesy of Arlington Public Schools.

In honor of back to school week, USDA offers an array of youth-focused curriculum and learning resources. Photo Courtesy of Arlington Public Schools.

It’s that time of year! Back to school season is upon us and agencies across the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are working to ensure a stronger and healthier future for our nation’s next generation of leaders. That means providing a happy and healthy learning environment for our kids, and helping them grow up with the tools they need to succeed. Read more »