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Moving Forward for Healthy Kids

Last week was an exciting week for America’s school lunchrooms.  Our new meal standards were announced and they will help improve the health of millions of children.  These new standards represent one of five major components of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  There’s more to come:

  • The ability to take nutrition standards beyond the lunch line – for the first time ever, rules for foods and beverages sold in vending machines and other venues on school campuses will contribute to a healthy diet;
  • Increased funding for schools – an additional 6 cents a meal will be available — the first real increase in 30 years – tied to strong performance in serving improved meals;
  • Common-sense pricing standards for schools will ensure that revenues from non-Federal sources keep pace with the Federal commitment to healthy school meals and properly align with costs; and
  • Training and technical assistance will help schools achieve and monitor compliance. Read more »

Know Your Farmer Know Your Food in Action in Florida

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan meets with members of the at Fifth Generation Farms fresh market in Lake City, Florida on Friday, Jan. 27, 2012. USDA Photo by Ellen Boukari.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan meets with members of the at Fifth Generation Farms fresh market in Lake City, Florida on Friday, Jan. 27, 2012. USDA Photo by Ellen Boukari.

Last week, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited Fifth Generation Farms fresh market in Lake City, Fla., a farm family owned market selling local meats and produce.  When Fifth Generation Farms market opened in August 2011, it was the realization of a dream not only for Delvey and Cindy Dicks, but for their entire family as well.  For five generations, the Dicks family has been involved in farming and ranching in the North Central Florida area.  The Dicks knew that if the family farm was to remain productive for future generations, they would have to offset rising production input costs and the loss of summer tobacco crops. Read more »

GAP/GHP: Protecting and Serving Produce Farmers and Businesses

A GAP certified farm field.  “Consumers expect that the produce they consume is safe to eat.  That process starts in the fields and groves...”  Photo and quote provided by Mission Produce.

A GAP certified farm field. “Consumers expect that the produce they consume is safe to eat. That process starts in the fields and groves...” Photo and quote provided by Mission Produce.

Food safety and the prevention of food borne illness is a priority across the food supply chain in the United States.  With the development of better notification systems and increased consumer awareness of food safety, there is a need for greater accountability and for consistent standards and practices across the board. Read more »

Secretary Announces Refinancing Help for Rural USDA Home Loan Borrowers in Select States

Today, rural homeowners in 19 states across the nation are getting some much-needed and long-awaited help to cope with declining home values and a sluggish housing market.

Secretary Vilsack announced today a pilot program to help rural borrowers with loans made or guaranteed by USDA refinance their mortgages to reduce their monthly payments. This initiative is part of the president’s on- going efforts to help middle class families, create jobs, and strengthen the economy. Since the Obama Administration took office three years ago, Secretary Vilsack has worked closely with the White House to ensure that rural Americans continue to enjoy the many benefits of homeownership. Read more »

Eight Former Secretaries of Agriculture Speaking at 2012 Ag Outlook Forum

USDA’s 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum, Feb. 23-24, will commemorate the 150th anniversary of USDA’s founding in 1862.  Secretary Tom Vilsack will moderate a panel of former Secretaries of Agriculture ─ Ed Schafer, Senator Mike Johanns, Ann Veneman, Dan Glickman, Mike Espy,  Clayton Yeutter, John Block, and Bob Bergland.  This unprecedented gathering of former Ag Secretaries will discuss the topic “Agriculture: Visions of the Future.”

To learn more and register for the Forum, please go to: http://www.usda.gov/oce/forum/

Don’t Just “Wing It!” Defeat Food Poisoning at Your Super Bowl Party with Food Safety Tips and a Bonus Recipe

Have plans for the big game? We all know this day is more than just football. It’s also the second largest day for food consumption in the U.S., next to Thanksgiving Day. Chips, wings, guacamole, chili—sounds like a good time right? It should be!

Don’t let this snack-filled day end in food poisoning. Food poisoning has lots of causes, including leaving food out too long. Here are some tips to ensure everyone enjoys the big game between the Giants and Patriots, and all the good food that comes with it! Read more »