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It’s National Food Safety Education Month! Chat with Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, Under Secretary for Food Safety on Twitter

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Most people reading this probably have heard the statistic by now that one in six Americans, or 48 million people, is expected to get sick from foodborne illness each year.  You also probably have a lot of questions about what federal public health agencies are doing to prevent those illnesses, and what precautions you can take to further protect yourself and your family. Read more »

Under Secretary Highlights USDA Job Promotion Efforts in Albert Lea, Minnesota

USDA Support helps Mrs. Gerry’s, an Albert Lea, Minn. Business grow and create jobs. ( From left its Colleen Landkamer, USDA Rural Development Minn. State Director; Chad Vogt, Mrs. Gerry’s, Inc.; and Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager.

USDA Support helps Mrs. Gerry’s, an Albert Lea, Minn. Business grow and create jobs. ( From left its Colleen Landkamer, USDA Rural Development Minn. State Director; Chad Vogt, Mrs. Gerry’s, Inc.; and Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager.

What started as a small operation almost 40 years ago has grown into major contributor to the economy in Albert Lea, Minn.

Mrs. Gerry’s Kitchen, Inc., started on Dec. 4, 1973, in a building that occupied 1,100 square feet. Today, Mrs. Gerry’s is adding a 36,500 square-foot addition that will bring its building to over 100,000 square feet and help meet growing customer demand for its real (no flaky stuff here) mashed potatoes and other products. Read more »

USDA’s Chief Scientist Woteki Helps Connect Scientists from across the Globe to Meet Global Challenges Facing Food and Agriculture

In an effort to advance food and agricultural research that enables farmers and ranchers to meet the growing global demand for food, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Chief Scientist Catherine Woteki will lead the U.S. Government’s delegation to the first-ever Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists (MACS) in Guadalajara, Mexico this week. Member countries committed to the meeting earlier this year at the June 2012 G-20 Leaders Summit, as a step to gain greater efficiency and utility from global agricultural research investments. The meeting is being convened by the Mexican government as part of their role heading the Group of Twenty (G-20) this year.

“Over the next 50 years, we will need to produce as much food for the world’s population as has been produced in the entire history of mankind,” said Woteki, who is also USDA’s Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. “A challenge this serious and urgent requires bringing together the best minds in food and agricultural science to chart our course on research. This meeting is the first of its kind, and I believe it is the beginning of a collaboration that will benefit scientists, farmers, and citizens around the world.” Read more »

New Beef Cut List Opens Trade Possibilities for U.S. Producers

In a collaborative effort, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, Foreign Agricultural Service and the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) recently published a revised list of beef cuts.  The list now includes U.S. cuts, based on USDA standards, available for export to Chile under the existing Free Trade Agreement. The addition of the new cuts, listed next to their Chilean equivalent, will allow U.S. producers to send more products to Chile.

The U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement became effective January 1, 2004, and was the first such arrangement with a South American country.  It provides America’s farmers, ranchers, food processors, and their businesses improved, and in many cases, new access to Chile’s market of 15 million consumers. The Free Trade Agreement calls for duty-free access on all products and addresses other trade measures for both countries. Read more »

Chimney Rock National Monument Joins Six Others Managed by the Forest Service

Chimney Rock, designed a national monument on Sept. 21, 2012, was home to the Ancestral Pueblo People about 1,000 years ago and is culturally significant for Native American tribes. The dramatic Great House Pueblo was likely was used as an observatory for the annual summer solstice.

Chimney Rock, designated a national monument on Sept. 21, 2012, was home to the Ancestral Pueblo People about 1,000 years ago and is culturally significant for Native American tribes. The dramatic Great House Pueblo was likely was used as an observatory for the annual summer solstice.

Chimney Rock Archaeological Area – the jewel of San Juan National Forest – shines a lot brighter today after President Obama signed a proclamation establishing the area and surrounding land as Chimney Rock National Monument. It is the United States’ 103rd national monument and the seventh to be managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Read more »

Students Get Involved: In Arkansas, a Healthy Garden Means a Healthy School

These cabbages would be the pride of any gardener, but in this case the gardeners are eighty 2nd and 4th grade students from Junction City Elementary in Junction City, Arkansas. They are among the 4,000 students in 54 schools across the country participating in Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth (HGHY) – a project of USDA’s People’s Garden School Pilot Project.

With its southern climate, the schools in Arkansas got a head start on building their gardens and planting crops. On this day, Arkansas HGHY Principal Investigator Laura Connerly and project leads Janet Carson and Julie Treat of the University of Arkansas, along with HGHY Project Director Brad Gaolach and Martha Aitken from Washington State University, watched the students enthusiastically harvest cabbage, beets, basil, and green beans – pounds and pounds of them.

Directing the harvest was University of Arkansas Extension horticulture agent, Robin Bridges, and 4-H Program Assistant, Cynthia Ford, who have taken the Junction City students step by step through building, planning, planting and now, harvesting their garden.  HGHY has enjoyed the full participation of the Junction City Elementary staff from Principal Rebekah West, to the four classroom teachers – Jan Wilson, Dee McKinnon, Connie Hammett and Patricia Murray – to the cafeteria and custodial teams, providing a rich environment for the students to learn about healthy eating. Read more »