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Final Countdown for 2011 Feds Feed Families Campaign

Today, Secretary Vilsack announced that, during the month of July, USDA employees donated more than 270,000 pounds of canned goods and fresh produce to feed families across the country as part of the Feds Feed Families food drive!   That means USDA employees have worked together to donate more than 370,000 pounds of food in just two months.  With more than 1,800 USDA offices throughout the country participating, here are a few examples of how USDA employees are contributing to the Feds Feed Families campaign.

So far this August, a USDA Service Center in Tipton, Iowa, has harvested 165 pounds of beets, 500 pounds of sweet corn, 140 pounds of green beans, 270 pounds of tomatoes, and 30 pounds of zucchini from their People’s Garden to benefit Feds Feed Families.  And that’s in addition to the canned goods that they are collecting! Their hard work was highlighted on the local CBS news affiliate, KCRG-TV, which you can view here. Read more »

Man’s Best Friend Protects American Agriculture

Thunder attending a course at the National Detector Dog Training Center.

Thunder attending a course at the National Detector Dog Training Center.

My name is Thunder.  Not too many months ago, I was homeless and waiting for someone to take me home from the Houston Beagle Rescue in Houston, Texas.  Then, a nice lady from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s National Detector Dog Training Center (NDDTC) in Newnan, Georgia came to visit.  From that day on, my life changed. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Partnerships Help Farmers and the Environment

America’s farmers are among our nation’s first and finest conservationists.  And at USDA, we support their work to protect natural landscapes by improving water and air quality, and preserving wildlife habitat, forests and soil.

This work is also helps drive economic growth and creates jobs – particularly in rural communities.

Farmers taking steps to help the environment can improve their bottom line.  And maintaining the health of American landscapes supports an outdoor recreation industry worth $730 billion to our nation’s economy each year – and supports millions of jobs.  Recreational activities on the USDA-managed national forests and grasslands alone contribute $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy. Read more »

Farmers Markets at Your Fingertips: How the Community is Using Our Open Data

When the USDA first made the dataset from the USDA National Farmers Market Directory available to web and application designers last year, we weren’t sure what was going to happen.  We just knew local food lovers, farmers market lovers, and data lovers were waiting for it.

The results have been amazing. Websites and apps that not only benefit their local communities, but help farmers markets have popped up across the nation. Read more »

USDA Forest Service Report Shows Happy Customers and Continued Economic Impact at National Forests

Visitors Hiking on Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming

Visitors Hiking on Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming

If you are looking for inexpensive, fun and healthy recreational activities in the great outdoors, then look no further than our national forests and grasslands. Read more »

Investing In Local Economies by Shopping at Farmers Markets

A woman makes a purchase at her local farmers market. A single farmers market purchase can have a big impact on the local economy.  (Photo courtesy of Real Time Farms)A woman makes a purchase at her local farmers market. A single farmers market purchase can have a big impact on the local economy.  (Photo courtesy of Real Time Farms)

A woman makes a purchase at her local farmers market. A single farmers market purchase can have a big impact on the local economy. (Photo courtesy of Real Time Farms)

When I visit my local farmers market, I know that every peach, tomato, or strawberry I purchase helps local farmers pay their bills and support their families.  Not only do I enjoy the health benefits and the wonderful flavors from fresh produce but I’m helping local farmers stay in business. Read more »