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Farmers Markets Bring Farm-Fresh Foods & Fun to Summer Meals

People near local cherry tomatoes

Summer meal and farmers market offerings include local cherry tomatoes.

This National Farmers Market Week, we celebrate a growing national trend that exemplifies the power of partnership in achieving common goals. Across the country, sponsors of USDA’s Summer Meals Programs are joining forces with their local farmers markets, realizing a multitude of shared benefits.  These partnerships increase access to the local seasonal bounty the summer months have to offer and help keep kids and their families nourished and active while school is out. Check out how three communities are taking full advantage of all that farmers markets during the summer months! Read more »

Growing a Community – One Family at a Time in Huron, S.D.

Nyo Maung with his child

Nyo Maung with one of his six children enjoying some free time in the front yard of their new home.

There are stark differences between Huron, South Dakota, and the Thailand Refugee Camp where the Maung Family started their journey. There are cultural differences, language barriers, and vast contrasts between the way people live and work in these two pinpoints on opposite sides of the globe. The Maung family journeyed from Thailand and have been welcomed into the community of Huron, South Dakota. They are enjoying the American culture and are adjusting well to life in their new community.

It takes strong community partners working together to create thriving communities and improve the quality of life in rural areas. Even though the Maung family has limited knowledge of the English language, that barrier did not prevent them from pursuing the American dream of homeownership through USDA. They worked with a language interpreter to engage several partners that worked together to assist with the application process of becoming new homeowners. Read more »

Des Moines Farmer’s Market Offers Bumper Crop of Healthy Options for SNAP and WIC Clients

Des Moines Farmer's Market

More than 20,000 people enjoy the Des Moines, Iowa Downtown Farmer’s Market every Saturday from May to October.

They show up early and eager to capture the freshest produce Iowa farmers have to offer.  The Des Moines, Iowa Downtown Farmer’s Market held Saturday mornings from May to October is a success in terms of the variety of fresh produce it offers, the local economic benefits, and in the opportunities it provides for SNAP and WIC clients to utilize their benefits in healthy new ways.

At the start of National Farmers Market Week Aug. 7-14, Angie Tagtow, Executive Director of USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) talked with Kelly Foss, Director of the Des Moines Downtown Farmer’s Market as they toured nine city blocks filled with a massive array of healthy and creative food options. Read more »

Building Partnerships for Diversity through the B.A.Y.O.U.

Elanor Starmer touring Southern University

AMS helped to establish a meat processing plant on the Southern University campus, giving students hands-on learning and providing resources for USDA Meat Grading and Inspection trainings. AMS staff, Curtis Chisley, gives AMS Administrator Starmer (center) a tour of the facility and talked about a proposed expansion project to increase capacity.

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Louisiana with my Administrator, Elanor Starmer, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), and visit Southern University and A & M College (Southern), an 1890 Land Grant University and Historically Black College. Located on Scott’s Bluff overlooking the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, LA, the campus covers 512 acres, with an agricultural experimental station on an additional 372-acres just north of the main campus.  It is at this university that AMS began a strong partnership in the mid 1980′s to help establish a Beginning Agricultural Youth Opportunities Unlimited (B.A.Y.O.U.) Program.

BAYOU provides an opportunity for high school students to gain “first hand” knowledge about career opportunities in Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences and related disciplines.  With more than a third of career federal employees projected to be eligible for retirement in 2017, programs like B.A.Y.O.U. cultivate and nurture agricultural professionals for the future. Read more »

Showcasing New Opportunities in the Growing Philippines Food and Beverage Market

Dane International Commodities showcasing its products

Dane International Commodities, Inc., a Philippine importer specializing in the supply of U.S. nuts, California raisins, other dried fruits and food ingredients, showcases its products to food franchises attending a marketing event in Manila organized by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

As the largest U.S. food and beverage export market in Southeast Asia and one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, the Philippines is attracting top food franchises. To showcase these new market opportunities, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and U.S. Commercial Service offices in Manila organized a first-ever cooperative marketing event for the country.

Supported by the Philippine Franchise Association and the Hotel and Restaurant Purchasing Managers Association of the Philippines, the event brought together more than 15 importers and 180 key decision makers of U.S. and Philippine-grown food franchises. Not only did the event showcase the availability, quality and uses of U.S. fine foods and beverages, it also linked importers with food franchises and helped them identify market access issues, trends and new trade opportunities. Read more »

EPA Recognizes U.S. Department of Agriculture Among Nation’s Leading Green Power USERS

A 1.6 Megawatt solar farm at the George Washington Carver Center

The 1.6 Megawatt solar farm, located at the George Washington Carver Center in Beltsville, Maryland, helps position USDA to meet President Obama’s Executive Order goal to increase the share of electricity the Federal Government consumes from renewable.

In 2015, USDA launched the answer to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan challenge for food and forestry, with the Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry. Ten building blocks span a range of technologies and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon storage and generate clean renewable energy.  Through the Department’s voluntary and incentive-based conservation and energy programs, USDA and its partners are moving forward to reduce net emissions and enhance carbon sequestration by over 120 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year, or about 2 percent of economy-wide net greenhouse emissions, by 2025. This reduction is the equivalent of taking 25 million cars off the road or offsetting the emissions produced by powering nearly 11 million homes per year.

In keeping with these efforts, USDA too is working to reduce its own carbon footprint.  USDA is proud to be part of the Green Power Partnership, a voluntary program that encourages organizations to use green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with electricity use.  And USDA is even more proud to be recognized as number five on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Top 10 Federal Government list of the largest green power users from the Green Power Partnership. Additionally, USDA is number 43 on the National Top 100 list. Read more »