Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

USDA Program Helps High School Students Realize Ag Jobs are Everywhere

Summer student interns Joe Dionne and Elliot Alexander; Specialty Crops Inspection Division Assistant Central Region Branch Chief Phil Bricker; AMS Fruit and Vegetable Program Associate Deputy Administrator Chris Purdy

This summer, several employees joined our staff as interns in our New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia locations. The program allows students to gain practical work experience while the agency helps develop future leaders. (Pictured left to right): Summer student interns Joe Dionne and Elliot Alexander; Specialty Crops Inspection Division Assistant Central Region Branch Chief Phil Bricker; AMS Fruit and Vegetable Program Associate Deputy Administrator Chris Purdy. (AMS photo)

Here at the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), one of the many benefits of creating marketing opportunities for ag businesses is seeing first-hand how the industry supports 1 in 12 jobs all over the country. In addition to feeding the world, the ag industry continues to be the strong backbone in our nation’s economy – in both rural and urban areas. To help continue this trend, we set out to groom the next generation of ag leaders. Our Fruit and Vegetable Program developed a strong relationship with high schools in a couple of the country’s largest cities, allowing students to work with the agency while still enrolled in high school.

We started in New York City, home of the Hunt’s Point Terminal Market – the nation’s largest wholesale produce market – so that students at John Bowne High School could get their feet wet in the agriculture industry. We did this by offering the students the opportunity to come on board as interns for our Specialty Crops Inspection Division (SCI). Employees in this division inspect produce entering and leaving Hunt’s Point, which employs more than 10,000 people and generates $2 billion in sales annually. Thanks to a budding relationship with this school featuring a strong ag curriculum, students can now get practical work experience while in school. Read more »

Conservation Program Pre-Proposals Due July 8

This summer, 40 organizations from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana will work together to help agricultural producers reduce phosphorus runoff that ends up in the western Lake Erie basin, affecting water quality and contributing to algae blooms. This is an example of how the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) can be used to solve natural resource challenges in a community, state or region. Eligible conservation coalitions nationwide have about a week to submit pre-proposals to improve soil health, preserve clean water, combat drought and protect wildlife habitat. The deadline is July 8th.

USDA is investing up to $235 million through RCPP to improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. Created by the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP empowers local leaders to work with multiple partners—such as private companies, local and tribal governments, universities, non-profit groups and other non-government partners—along with farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to design solutions that work best for their region. Local partners and the federal government both invest funding and manpower to projects to maximize their impact. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service administers RCPP. Read more »

Show Us When You Are #GrillingLikeaPRO

Grilling Like a PRO infographic

This summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is reminding Americans that #GrillingLikeaPRO is the safest and easiest way to grill. You can’t see harmful bacteria on your burgers, chicken, and steak but using a food thermometer is the only way to know that your food is safe to eat. For more information: www.foodsafety.gov/blog/2015/06/grilling-pro-july-fourth.html

Cross-posted from FoodSafety.gov blog:

Summer is finally here! I can smell those steaks and burgers on the grill already. While grilling outside with our friends and family can be fun, it can also lead to food poisoning.

This summer, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service is reminding Americans everywhere that “Grilling Like a PRO” is the safest and easiest way to grill. You can’t see harmful bacteria on your burgers, chicken, and steak—using a food thermometer is the only way to know that your food is safe to eat. The PRO method is an easy way to protect you and your family from foodborne illness. Read more »

Homes on the Mend, Neighborhoods on the Rebound

USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker (center with wheelbarrow), U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici (center with level), local nonprofit Community Action Team (CAT), and community leaders with first-time homeowners Jessica and Jason Smith

In honor of National Homeownership Month, USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker (center with wheelbarrow), U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici (center with level), local nonprofit Community Action Team (CAT), and community leaders join first-time homeowners Jessica and Jason Smith (far right)

Jessica and Jason Smith used to watch home improvement shows in which old and deteriorating houses are completely renovated. They never thought they’d be the ones giving a neglected home new life—until now. While building their dream of homeownership, they are quite literally helping revitalize a neighborhood.

Last week in honor of National Homeownership Month, I joined U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici, local nonprofit Community Action Team (CAT), and community leaders to meet the Smiths at their work-in-progress in St. Helens, Oregon. Jessica and Jason participate in CAT’s Self-help Acquisition Rehabilitation Program (SHARP) funded with support from USDA Rural Development. The effort allows families to use their own sweat equity as down payment on a home and provides an affordable USDA mortgage for the balance. As the local partner, CAT receives USDA Mutual Self-help Housing grant funds to qualify families, identify home sites, and coordinate professional construction assistance. Read more »

Buckle Up for a #USDARoadTrip

The "Ask Karen" app on an iPhone

How many times have you gone into your pantry or refrigerator, only to find that what you were going to use in your meal was spoiled? The USDA would like to help you avoid that problem in the future with our new #FoodKeeper app: Android ow.ly/J1WTQ and iOS ow.ly/L5sRL

From barbecues to broadband, USDA’s broad portfolio impacts the lives of American families everywhere. This month, in celebration of our nation’s Independence Day, we’ll take a summer road trip across the U.S. Department of Agriculture and see some of the ways USDA is assisting rural communities to build a stronger America from sea to shining sea.

Our first stop will be USDA’s Consumer Food Safety portfolio to explore the ways USDA is working around the clock to ensure you and your families are protected from harmful foodborne illness. A big part of that is making sure you have the correct information at the time when you need it most. That’s why over the years, our Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has found increasingly innovative ways to bring our food safety information to you.

Read more »

Tapping into the Economic Potential of Local Food Through Local Foods, Local Places

Federal local food experts met with community leaders to determine a successful site for a new farmers market

In Jefferson City, Missouri, federal local food experts met with community leaders to determine a successful site for a new farmers market. This partnership was made possible by Local Foods, Local Places which helps communities integrate local food enterprises into their economic plans.

Cross-posted from the White House Rural Council blog:

At USDA, we understand the enormous market potential of local food. Industry estimates suggest that local food sales in America have nearly doubled in recent years, jumping from $5 billion in 2008 to $11.7 billion in 2014. We’ve invested more than $800 million in 29,100 local and regional food businesses and infrastructure projects over the past six years to help farmers, ranchers and rural businesses tap into that market.

Indeed, local food is a national phenomenon that has significant impact on every state’s economy. But local food is not only a business opportunity for agriculture, it can also be a development tool that allows communities to maximize the impact of what is grown and made locally. Local food projects can help grow local food economies and drive downtown and neighborhood revitalization, which is what the Administration’s Local Foods, Local Places initiative is all about. And this year, the initiative is particularly focused on ensuring that kids and families in need have an opportunity to benefit from the development of local food systems. This initiative is part of the White House Rural Council’s “Rural Impact” effort to improve quality of life and upward mobility for kids and families in rural and tribal communities. Read more »