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USMC Vet and Earth Team Volunteer Timothy Bennish Visits with Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan recently visited Viroqua, Wisc. to promote USDA’s new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass. While she was there, she took the time to meet with Timothy Bennish, a volunteer with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Earth Team volunteer program.

NRCS works with farmers and ranchers to implement voluntary conservation practices that will not only protect the nation’s natural resources, but also maintain or increase the productivity of the land. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Healthy Markets for American Agriculture

Healthy markets play a critical role in the strength of American agriculture. To help maintain strong, transparent markets USDA gathers and provides up-to-the-minute information from around the country on price, supply, demand and movement.

That way, farmers and ranchers – no matter how big or small – can operate on a level playing field and take a look at the same information as they evaluate market conditions, make purchasing and selling decisions, monitor price patterns, and work to identify market opportunities and project future trends.

USDA started reporting on markets for agricultural products nearly 100 years ago. Today, our employees around the country are building relationships with sellers and buyers, verifying and analyzing prices and releasing reports to help ensure that agricultural markets run smoothly. Read more »

Safer Skies for Navy Fliers and Vultures

Windscreen damage to a training helicopter.

Windscreen damage to a training helicopter.

Bringing USDA expertise into a cooperative effort with the U.S. Navy and a telecommunications company recently made flying safer for hundreds of vultures and Navy aviators near Milton, Fla. Read more »

Extending the Public Comment Period for USDA’s Proposal to Modernize Poultry Slaughter

Today, USDA announced an extension to the public comment period for a proposed rule that would modernize the poultry slaughter inspection system.  This new plan would provide us with the opportunity to protect consumers from unsafe food more effectively.  We recognize that this proposal would represent a significant change from the current system and has sparked a debate on how poultry is inspected.  We also value the different opinions being expressed about the proposal and have extended the public comment period to ensure all sides are presented in this debate.

It may surprise you to learn that the USDA has been inspecting poultry in largely the same way since the 1950’s.  So, while our scientific knowledge of what causes foodborne illness has evolved, our inspection process has not been updated to reflect this new information. Under this modernization proposal, significant public health benefits will be achieved and foodborne illness will be prevented by focusing our inspectors attention on activities that will better ensure the safety of the poultry you and your family enjoy. Read more »

My Earth Team Success Story—the Start of an NRCS Career


Adria Smith started working with NRCS as a student volunteer. She is now a student trainee soil conservationist.

Adria Smith started working with NRCS as a student volunteer. She is now a student trainee soil conservationist.

I first heard about Earth Team, the volunteer workforce of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) from Eric Banks, the Kansas State Conservationist. Our families go to the same church, and he spoke with my mother about the Earth Team program, recommending I look into getting involved with it. Read more »

Todos en la Mesa: Making Room for Everyone at the Table

During a recent visit to Southern California, I met with key partners in USDA’s efforts to address hunger and make nutritious food affordable and available, particularly in low-income communities.

More than one out of four Latino families in the United States is food insecure, and many do not know that CalFresh, the name for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in California, can help families put healthy food on the table. Latinos are now the fastest growing demographic group in the United States, and they face higher levels of both hunger and obesity.  Since almost half of Los Angeles County’s population is Latino, I was excited to share our new La Mesa Completa Community Leaders Tool Kit with faith leaders from the Catholic and Evangelical communities, as well as with nutrition advocates from Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. Read more »