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Secretary’s Column: Strengthening American Agriculture

At the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we are looking for new ways to help America’s producers succeed every single day. We want farmers and growers with operations of all sizes to be profitable and to make the decisions that are best for their land and their families.

We know that when agriculture is healthy and rural America is healthy, it helps support our nation as a whole.

That is why we have worked to help strengthen American agriculture by expanding markets for our goods and supporting innovation. Read more »

Risk Management Agency Associate Administrator Tours an Organic Garden at a Historically Black College

Pictured, from left to right: student Barbara Clark Franklin; USDA Risk Management Agency Associate Administrator Barbara Leach; and Elizabeth Wattley, Director of Servant Leadership at Paul Quinn College

Pictured, from left to right: student Barbara Clark Franklin; USDA Risk Management Agency Associate Administrator Barbara Leach; and Elizabeth Wattley, Director of Servant Leadership at Paul Quinn College

As the Associate Administrator for the Risk Management Agency, I visit our offices in all parts of the country.  My recent trip to Dallas, Texas, provided an exciting look at a truly amazing agricultural program and astonishing new ideas at Paul Quinn College. Read more »

USDA Joins First White House Hispanic Policy Conference

Last week, community leaders from all over the country visited Washington DC to join the White House for the first Hispanic Policy conference in our nation’s history. The goal was to get a dialogue going between administration officials and community leaders on an array of topics of particular interest to the Hispanic community. Some of the topics included jobs, education, immigration and energy. I had the honor of attending the conference on behalf of USDA.

The two-day event was coordinated and hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. 160 Hispanic leaders from 25 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico attended the discussion as well as over 100 administration officials. Read more »

AMS Completes First Spanish Webinar

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently held its first Spanish-language webinar: An Introduction to PACA – In Spanish. Pat Romero, Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) Western Regional director, introduced participants to the PACA Branch and discussed how it protects the produce industry.

Every day, PACA receives inquiries from produce companies requesting assistance to handle problems such as interpreting inspection certificates, settling contract disputes, and addressing bankruptcy problems.  The branch promotes fair trading practices in the fruit and vegetable industry by establishing and enforcing a code of fair business practices and by helping companies resolve their disputes. Read more »

Risk Management Agency Seeks Public Input on Establishing a Single Data Reporting System

USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) working together have made great strides in making acreage reporting simpler for farmers and ranchers.  The Acreage and Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative (ACRSI), seeks to reduce the reporting burden on producers submitting data to USDA.

In listening sessions with producers last year, FSA and the Office of the Chief Information Officer found some common themes emerged: Read more »

USDA Leaders Share Successes, Goals for Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan addresses the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council and members of the press.

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan addresses the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council and members of the press.

On July 11, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and I traveled to Richmond, Virginia to represent USDA at the annual Chesapeake Bay Executive Council (CBEC) meeting. The CBEC is the governing body of Bay restoration and protection efforts, and it includes leaders from federal agencies and states across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Read more »