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Here’s to 150 More

Tomorrow, May 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will celebrate 150 years of work on behalf of agriculture, rural America and people throughout the country and world. In anticipation of tomorrow’s activities, the 30th Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, sat down today for the May edition of our monthly Virtual Office Hours on Twitter to answer questions about USDA’s rich history as well as issues that face the Department today.

During the 45 minute chat, questions poured in for Secretary Vilsack across all issues and subject matters, and with each response, helped us to tell the story of the importance of USDA throughout history, and to paint a picture of the breadth of USDA’s vast portfolio. Our continued work on food, agriculture, economic development, science, natural resource conservation and many other issues will ensure USDA still fulfills Lincoln’s vision – touching the lives of every American, every day.  Read more »

New People’s Garden Marks Upcoming 150th Anniversary of USDA

Many children believe their food comes from the grocery store. But a class of 23 Mississippi second-graders knows better than that – the delicious food they love starts with a seed.

Students from Madison Avenue Elementary plant a People’s Garden in Mississippi in honor of the upcoming 150th anniversary of USDA.

Students from Madison Avenue Elementary plant a People’s Garden in Mississippi in honor of the upcoming 150th anniversary of USDA.

Students from Madison Avenue Elementary visited a new People’s Garden at an office of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and planted seeds of squash, watermelon, pumpkin, cucumber and, of course, the “Abraham Lincoln” tomato. Read more »

A New USDA Funded Wastewater Treatment Facility Protects the Upper St. Croix Watershed in Wisconsin

The Upper St. Croix Watershed was the centerpiece of an Earth Day celebration last month in the community of Solon Springs, Wisconsin.

Solon Springs and the Solon Springs School District commemorated the completion of a new and expanded wastewater treatment facility with ceremonies at both the Solon Springs School, and the site of the new treatment facility.

“The Upper St. Croix watershed impacts the quality of water resources from Lake Superior to the Gulf of Mexico,” said Stan Gruszynski, USDA Rural Development State Director.  “The citizens of Solon Springs deserve to be commended for their civic-mindedness and willingness to make the investment in a clean environment and responsible stewardship of one of our most critical resources….water!” Read more »

Mobile Ask Karen’s First Anniversary is BYOQ: Bring Your Own Question

Mobile Ask Karen makes food safety tips available whenever and wherever you need them. Look up information about safely preparing tonight’s dinner while making purchases at the meat counter.

Mobile Ask Karen makes food safety tips available whenever and wherever you need them. Look up information about safely preparing tonight’s dinner while making purchases at the meat counter.

One year ago, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service made our first leap into the world of mobile technology, bringing practical information about food safety literally to Americans’ fingertips. With the launch of our Mobile Ask Karen smartphone app, consumers are now able to ask questions like “To what temperature should I cook beef?” whenever and wherever they need the answers. Read more »

Military Veterans: the Next Generation of Organic Farmers

: A veteran and participant of the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training program handles living basil at an organic hydroponic farm, which grows plants in water as opposed to soil. The program, started by decorated Marine sergeant Colin Archipley, passes on agricultural knowledge to veterans to not only provide healing through farming but also to support them in starting their own agricultural enterprises.

: A veteran and participant of the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training program handles living basil at an organic hydroponic farm, which grows plants in water as opposed to soil. The program, started by decorated Marine sergeant Colin Archipley, passes on agricultural knowledge to veterans to not only provide healing through farming but also to support them in starting their own agricultural enterprises.

Compost tea (a mixture of recycled organic matter soaked in water), hydroponic living basil, and organic certification are terms that, at first glance, may not have much of a connection to military veterans. Colin Archipley, a decorated Marine sergeant, and his wife Karen however saw the combination as a win-win when they founded the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) program outside San Diego, California. Read more »

Focusing on the Future of Food Assistance

USDA’s food assistance and development programs serve a dual purpose: to meet the immediate needs of hungry people, and to show their countries how to rejuvenate their agricultural sectors and increase their capacity to trade. We accomplish these goals in cooperation with other U.S. government agencies and with private-sector partners ranging from non-governmental organizations to research institutions to agribusinesses. And we are always looking for ways to be more effective.

So this week, at the International Food Aid and Development Conference (IFADC) in Kansas City, we got back to basics, discussing steps we are taking to operate our international aid programs more efficiently to ensure that program dollars go directly to eliminating hunger and poverty. We focused on how USDA can strengthen our partnerships with academia and international relief and development groups, as well as with local and international companies. After all, these organizations have the know-how and expertise that allows USDA to leverage limited funding to make a broad and enduring impact. Read more »