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Why Should Young People Care About The Farm Bill?

As young people that grew up in urban areas, it’s easy to wonder why we, or our peers, should care about the Farm Bill. The truth of the matter is, the Farm Bill affects more than just farmers.

As Congress works to pass a new Farm Bill before the end of the year, it’s crucial to make our voices heard on this important topic.

From the rural youth looking to take over the family farm to the urban gardener looking to grow fresh produce on the rooftop of their apartment building; from aspiring beginning farmers to outdoorsmen; from farmers market lovers to grocery store regulars, the Farm Bill is everywhere. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack Addresses White House Tribal Nations Conference-Unveils Sacred Sites Report

Navajo Code Talker veterans attended the 2012 Fourth Annual White House Tribal Nations Conference at the U.S. Department of Interior in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.

Navajo Code Talker veterans attended the 2012 Fourth Annual White House Tribal Nations Conference at the U.S. Department of Interior in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.

Yesterday,   it was my privilege to join other cabinet members in addressing an estimated 500 tribal members from across the United States at the White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Interior Department. Read more »

Kake Forests Provide More than Just Trees

Alaska's oval-leaf blueberry, Vaccinium ovalifolium.

Alaska's oval-leaf blueberry, Vaccinium ovalifolium.

On a typical late summer day in Kake, Alaska, residents prepare for the day by layering heavy-duty rain gear, protective gloves and rubber boots over jeans and fleece. Most of these Alaskans will head to work supporting the local fishing industry. A select few, however, will be bundling up for a slightly different catch: wild organic blueberries. Read more »

The Undisputed Champ in Almond Exports Goes to Russia

With Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) earlier this year, there is a growing interest in doing business with the Russian food and agricultural sector. This week, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS) Michael Scuse leads a U.S. delegation of more than 20 U.S. companies and five state departments of agriculture on an agricultural trade mission to Moscow and St. Petersburg. The goal of the mission is to continue a concerted effort by the Obama Administration to expand export opportunities for U.S. businesses with nations around the world, including Russia.

One example of a successful U.S.-Russia agricultural partnership is the export of California almonds to Russia for use in the confectionery sector. Russia is the second largest confectionery market in the world, and demand for high quality ingredients such as U.S. nuts and dried fruits have been increasing. With that in mind, Under Secretary Scuse and the state department delegates visit the Red October Chocolate Factory in Moscow, where they will see how this Russian company uses U.S. almonds. Read more »

Innovation Helps Fuel Growth for Winter Farmers Markets

A group finishes putting the outer skin on a hoop house in Michigan. The hoop house has helped local farmers lengthen the short Michigan growing season by two full months, giving them additional crops to sell at winter markets.  Photo courtesy Brittain Family Farms.

A group finishes putting the outer skin on a hoop house in Michigan. The hoop house has helped local farmers lengthen the short Michigan growing season by two full months, giving them additional crops to sell at winter markets. Photo courtesy Brittain Family Farms.

This is one of my favorite times of the year.  New and old traditions bring friends and family together to celebrate, cheer for their favorite football teams or just to share a hearty meal and some spirited conversations.  As the weather gets cooler, my family gravitates toward comfort foods and traditional family favorites, picking up fresh ingredients from our local winter farmers market. And, based on the growth in winter market listings this year, we’re not the only ones who have made this a part of our fall and winter traditions. Read more »

USDA’s Four-Legged Federal Workers Don’t Believe in Horsing Around

Mules on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest move equipment from a back country California Conservation Corp camp.

Mules on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest move equipment from a back country California Conservation Corp camp.

It seems being a working mule or horse on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest can be a pretty good thing – especially during the holiday season. Read more »