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Industry Insight: Checkoff Programs Empower Business

When it comes to expanding market share, increasing revenue and getting the word out about a great product or commodity, checkoff programs prove that there’s strength in numbers. Officially called research and promotion programs, checkoff programs give agricultural producers, importers and other stakeholders in the marketing chain the power to maximize resources while managing risk.

The strategy for increasing or expanding commodity markets takes more cooperation within the industry than competition between individual farms and businesses.  Consumers may not know exactly which farm grows or raises their fruit, beef, cotton or lumber, but they will decide what to buy based on knowledge, quality and availability.

The consumer’s perspective that there is a general uniformity to some commodities serves as the catalyst for many individual farms and businesses to collaborate on a comprehensive, industry-wide strategy to expand markets.  Promoting a commodity as a whole instead of by individual businesses means everyone in the industry benefits through increased sales, consumer awareness and higher overall demand. Read more »

People’s Garden in Turkey Promotes “Green Living”

Clara Hamilton (left) and Nilgun Birinci (right), look for tomatoes in the People’s Garden in Ankara, Turkey.

Clara Hamilton (left) and Nilgun Birinci (right), look for tomatoes in the People’s Garden in Ankara, Turkey.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, created a People’s Garden as part of their efforts to live a more “green” life at work. “Green Teams,” volunteer organizations present in many U.S. embassies, look for ways to improve green issues at the embassy through programs that promote green living such as recycling and saving water. Read more »

Forest Service Finds Local Government and Home Owners Pay the Price for Non-Native Insects

The emerald ash borer is an example of a non-native, wood-boring insect.

The emerald ash borer is an example of a non-native, wood-boring insect.

While invasive insect species are widely recognized as being among the greatest threats to biodiversity and ecosystem stability worldwide, there has been little research into their economic impact on the national level especially for non-native invasive species.

Many examples come to mind like the devastation caused by the native bark beetle in Colorado and surrounding states. However, what most don’t realize is that the threat from non-native insect species is equally if not more costly to U.S. tax payers. Read more »

Strengthening a Partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Earlier this week, I attended the 2011 National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week Conference to accept the ‘Chairman’s Award’ on Secretary Vilsack’s behalf.

Over the decades, HBCUs have been critical in producing many of our nation’s great authors, intellectuals, civil rights and business leaders, inventors and teachers.  There are thousands of USDA employees, from soil scientists to conservationists, who hail from HBCUs.  And maintaining our HBCUs as thriving, top-notch, centers of higher-education is critical to preparing our nation’s future workforce and keeping America competitive.

That Secretary Vilsack was honored with this award, is a testament to his work to strengthen USDA’s relationship with HBCUs.  As Secretary, he has worked to build a new era at USDA as a premier service provider and partner for all Americans, including those in minority and underserved communities. Read more »

Face of Food Safety: Joseph Woltz III

If you ask Joseph Woltz III what is the most rewarding part of his career, his answer would be simple and matter of fact: “What could be more rewarding than a career where your daily grind is protecting people from foodborne illnesses?”

Woltz’ “daily grind” is a lot different than the one he originally planned. When he was young, he always thought he would become a teacher. But instead of going into education, he took up the “family” business: the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Read more »

USDA and Lower Valley Water District Work to Supply First-Time Water to Colonias

Participating in the Lower Valley Water District Groundbreaking Ceremony were (left to right) USDA Rural Development Texas State Director Paco Valentin, Lower Valley Water District Director Warren Jorgensen, Lower Valley Water District Director Gina Cordero, Lower Valley Water District General Manager David Carrasco, Commissioner Precinct 3 Willie Gandara, Jr.

Participating in the Lower Valley Water District Groundbreaking Ceremony were (left to right) USDA Rural Development Texas State Director Paco Valentin, Lower Valley Water District Director Warren Jorgensen, Lower Valley Water District Director Gina Cordero, Lower Valley Water District General Manager David Carrasco, Commissioner Precinct 3 Willie Gandara, Jr.

Paco Valentin, USDA Rural Development State Director in Texas, along with representatives from the Lower Valley Water District and various elected officials, recently broke ground on a new water system that will provide first-time water service to rural residents. Read more »