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Laotian Farmer Becomes National Voice for N.C. Hmong Community

Maykia Yang (right), is trying to educate Hmong farmers in North Carolina about Farm Service Agency programs. Pictured with Maykia is her husband Jim (left) and son Marcus.

Maykia Yang (right), is trying to educate Hmong farmers in North Carolina about Farm Service Agency programs. Pictured with Maykia is her husband Jim (left) and son Marcus.

It’s not a pleasant memory for Maykia Yang. Fleeing on foot from her native home of Laos at age eight and following her family to Thailand where she spent two years in a refugee camp.

“My father was a soldier and worked for the CIA during the [Vietnam] war. After the CIA pulled out, the Vietnamese took over Laos and we fled on foot for about a month,” said Yang, who now owns a chicken farm in North Carolina. Read more »

USDA Needs Your Help To Keep Kids From Going Hungry This Summer

Three children enjoy lunch freshly prepared and served on-site by a food service management company at the Inter Metro Summer Recreation Program in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Three children enjoy lunch freshly prepared and served on-site by a food service management company at the Inter Metro Summer Recreation Program in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The summer months are here. Families are making plans for vacations and leisure time spent at the local pool or beach. But for many parents and caregivers, summer is also a time of anxiety as they wonder if they’ll be able to put enough food on the table without school lunch and breakfast to supplement mealtimes. That’s why USDA’s summer meals programs, which provide free meals to disadvantaged kids while school is out, is so important.

Today kicks off Summer Food Service Program Week, an opportunity to spread awareness about the prevalence of child hunger. This summer, we have set a goal of feeding 5 million more meals to eligible kids across the country through our partnerships with state agencies and local organizations. I’m proud to say that last year our partners served 161 million summer meals, feeding approximately 3.5 million children on a typical summer day. Read more »

Trade Mission Highlights Growing Prospects for Ag Products in Turkey

With its rapidly developing economy and expanding middle class, Turkey has become an important market for U.S. food and agricultural products over the past decade. It’s also the destination of the latest USDA agricultural trade mission from June 10-14 as Acting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse leads a U.S. delegation to promote U.S. agricultural exports.

Representatives from six state departments of agriculture and 20 U.S. companies will attend. During the mission, the delegation will travel to Istanbul and Ankara to learn about market conditions and regulations to help U.S. companies develop export strategies for Turkey. They’ll visit retail locations and tour various facilities including a U.S. hardwood importer. Read more »

From Orphaned Cub to Internationally Known Forest Service Icon, Smokey Bear Turns 70 Years Old Next Year!

Arriving in Washington, DC, the little hotfoot victim was greeted by a pouring rain, Lyle F. Watts, Chief of the Forest Service (center) and Stanlee Ann Miller of Albuquerque. N.M., who represented the school children of her state. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Arriving in Washington, DC, the little hotfoot victim was greeted by a pouring rain, Lyle F. Watts, Chief of the Forest Service (center) and Stanlee Ann Miller of Albuquerque. N.M., who represented the school children of her state. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Sometimes, a story speaks for itself. Although Smokey Bear was created on August 9, 1944, when the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council agreed that a fictional bear named Smokey would be the symbol for their efforts to promote forest fire prevention – what later happened is simply amazing.

Imagine this. The year is 1950, and a fire has been spotted in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico. The responding fire crew quickly realized that the blaze was more than they could handle. Word quickly spread that they needed help. Area forest rangers, Army soldiers, Native American crews and assorted state and local volunteers gathered together in an attempt to contain the inferno that was fueled by increasingly gusty winds. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Creating Modern Solutions to Environmental Challenges

Our farmers and ranchers are the most productive on earth, largely due to their innovation and their ability to adapt to new challenges. As new threats emerge for American agriculture, USDA will be there to provide assistance – and this week, we announced new steps to help producers create solutions to meet modern environmental threats.

We’re already seeing these new challenges emerge. Last year was the second most intense year in our history for extreme weather events. It was also the warmest on record for the continental United States. Read more »

Little People’s Garden Teaches Big Life Lesson

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. This Chinese proverb is the idea behind the Little People’s Garden in Montevideo, Minnesota.

“Children need to know where their food comes from,” said Liz Ludwig, Farm Service Agency county executive director.  “It’s not made in a factory; it’s grown in the soil, raised by farmers and ranchers, and cared for by people we call farmers.”

Initiated by Ludwig, the Little People’s Garden — now in its fourth year — was planted at Kinder Kare learning center in Montevideo, providing preschoolers a hands-on opportunity to learn where their food comes from and how to make healthy food choices. Read more »