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Connecting Faith and Community Leaders So Everyone Has a Place at the Table

A couple of weeks ago I joined two exciting events: the National Council of La Raza’s (NCLR)  Convention, here in our nation’s capital, and the White House Connecting for the Common Good Conference in Denver.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack led the NCLR Town Hall on nutrition and spoke of the need to find partners in every community to tackle the problems of hunger and access to nutritious food. Latinos are the hungriest demographic group in our country: one out of four Latinos has difficulty putting food on the table, and two out of five children live in homes that struggle with hunger. Secretary Vilsack referred to USDA’s approach to community engagement with La Mesa Completa/The Complete Table, an initiative to ensure that Latinos have access to federal nutrition assistance and a place at the table to discuss ways to promote healthier communities. He emphasized that it is in our nation’s interest to address the issue of nutrition because it is about healthcare, about economic security, and about our national security. “It is an issue that goes to the heart of the morality of this country,” he said. Read more »

APHIS Veterinarian Delivers Emergency Support in Times of Need

Hello, I’m Dr. Barry Pittman, an Area Emergency Coordinator for Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).  I cover the states of Kansas and Missouri, where I do liaison work with local, state and other federal representatives to help ensure we’re prepared to respond when disasters or outbreaks strike.  Some areas of my expertise are: developing animal response plans, providing training, building a veterinary reserve corps to response to disasters (like the Joplin, MO tornado), conducting vulnerability assessments, participating in exercises, and responding to incidents.

Becoming a veterinarian was something I decided I wanted to do at age twelve.  I loved our pediatrician (he made house calls) and at first I wanted to be a doctor… but the vet in town was much more laid back.  After time in the Air Force and Army, I went to vet school to fulfill my dream. Read more »

Annual Hummingbird Festival returns to Land Between The Lakes’ Woodlands Nature Station

Sadie Armin Begtrup of Nashville, Tenn., prepares to release a hummingbird after it was banded at the annual USDA Forest Service Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area Hummingbird Festival Aug. 5-7, 2011.

Sadie Armin Begtrup of Nashville, Tenn., prepares to release a hummingbird after it was banded at the annual USDA Forest Service Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area Hummingbird Festival Aug. 5-7, 2011.

More than 1,300 people gathered at the Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area in Golden Pond, Ky., during the annual Hummingbird Festival, where they learned about the ruby-throated variety and how to help them survive the long migration from the eastern U.S. and southern Canada to Mexico and Central America. Read more »

A Visit to the Ohio State Fair

The Ohio State Fair is a unique and exciting showcase of Ohio’s agriculture, livestock and natural resources.

At the fair, I had the opportunity to visit with members of the Ohio FFA.  These young people were impressive and demonstrated a true commitment to agriculture and Rural America.  It is these future leaders who will be challenged to maintain a traditional way of life in Rural America, and to continue to feed and clothe this country and the world. Read more »

Plant Materials Center Helps Conserve Florida’s Water Supply

PMC staff preparing field for planting test plants in Ona, Florida.

PMC staff preparing field for planting test plants in Ona, Florida.

In Florida, saving water and reducing nutrient runoff are top priorities for state and federal agencies. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Brooksville Plant Materials Center staff and the faculty at two University of Florida Research and Education Centers are collaborating on the development of a seed-producing, improved, low-maintenance native groundcover that can substitute for more high-maintenance grass turf in areas with low foot traffic. Read more »

Farmers Get Pricing Insight Through Market News

A wide variety of eggplant sold at the North Carolina Farmers Market.  The North Carolina State Farmers Market is one of the local markets covered by USDA Market News.  Photo by Justin Henry.

A wide variety of eggplant sold at the North Carolina Farmers Market. The North Carolina State Farmers Market is one of the local markets covered by USDA Market News. Photo by Justin Henry.

The announcement this week that the number of farmers markets has grown by 17 percent nationwide comes as no surprise to the USDA’s Market News. As demand for local and regional foods has grown, USDA’s Market News has grown as well by providing coverage of farmers markets and auctions. Read more »