To wrap up our Women’s Week blog series, we hear from Onelisa Garza, a current college senior at Texas A&M University, Kingsville who was raised in the small town of Linn, Texas. Onelisa has been very active in organizations like 4-H and FFA her whole life and has held many leadership positions through them. She discusses how she discovered that she wanted to dedicate her career to helping others understand the importance of agriculture. Onelisa has been in many agriculture science classes where the other students had never seen cattle in real life or a field of cotton – things that she always took for granted growing up. She will graduate in December of 2015 and plans to use her agriculture degree to become a County Extension Agent for 4-H Youth and Development. Read more »
At the English farm in York County, Pennsylvania, you’ll find a comfortable streamside setting that includes a babbling brook, clear water, singing birds, and a thriving young stand of trees — all nestled in a productive cropland setting. However, this wasn’t always the case. Don English, the son of the owner of the farm, recalls, “Until we planted these four acres into a buffer by enrolling in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), this creek ran brown with sediment after every rain. Within a year the water cleared up and now we’re seeing the aquatic life return.” This creek runs into the Deer Creek, which in turn runs into the Chesapeake Bay. The buffer is a part of a larger USDA effort to improve water quality and help restore the Bay. Read more »
Happy National Farm to School Month! Every October, the USDA Farm to School team is overwhelmed with stories of how farm to school programs are affecting kids, producers, and communities. Having now made 221 grants to school districts and other entities across the country to pursue projects that bring more local foods into schools and teach kids about where their foods comes from, we experience a steady stream of encouraging stories throughout the year. Stories about local farmers proudly supplying grains for a district’s whole grain baked goods; stories about school food service staff dressing up like fruits and vegetables to encourage healthy eating; stories about kids growing beets in the school garden and then devouring them when they show up in the cafeteria. During Farm to School Month, these anecdotes proliferate–on social media, on blogs, and via news stories. They inspire us, amuse us, and sometimes even make us tear up, but they don’t unequivocally prove that these programs work. For that, we rely on studies and surveys, on journal articles and evaluation results. Read more »
As part of our Women’s Week blog series, Ann Veneman shares her perspective as the first and only woman who has held the title of Secretary of Agriculture. A lawyer by training, Ann grew up in a small rural community in California and has dedicated her career to domestic and international food and agriculture issues. During her tenure as Secretary, American agriculture saw record farm income, record agricultural exports and the creation of stronger pest and disease protection systems for the country.
Ann has held various positions at USDA and in state government, including Deputy Secretary, Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs, Associate Administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service, and Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. She served as the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) from 2005-2010 and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, The Trilateral Commission, the National 4-H Council Board of Trustees and serves as an advisor to the Bipartisan Policy Center. In 2009, Ann was named to Forbes Magazine’s List of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. Read more »
What do raccoons, vampire bats, and mongooses have in common? All are wildlife species that are commonly associated with rabies and can potentially expose people, pets and livestock to the deadly virus.
The significant impact of rabies on public and animal health will be the focus of the 26th Rabies in the Americas conference in Fort Collin, Colorado, on October 4-8. This is the first time this important international conference will be held in Colorado and be hosted by APHIS, according to Richard Chipman, coordinator for APHIS-Wildlife Services’ (WS) National Rabies Management Program. Read more »
In the produce industry, food safety is front and center on everyone’s mind. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released some of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) final rules, and retailers are looking to buy from FSMA-compliant suppliers. If you’re a retailer or large produce buyer, there is exciting news about a program that verifies that suppliers are meeting your food safety requirements. After three years of successful trials, USDA recently previewed our plans to expand the GroupGap Pilot Program.
Many producers are aware of “Good Agricultural Practices,” or GAP audits. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Specialty Crops Inspection Division (SCI) performs GAP audits, which are voluntary, third-party services that verify that farms are following industry-recognized food safety practices and recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Read more »