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USDA Hosts 2nd Annual Hispanic Heritage Food Fiesta

Russell Avalos, Ed Avalos, Undersecretary, Marketing and Regulatory, Max Finberg, Director, Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and Al Almonza, Administrator, Food Safety Inspection Service share a laugh at the U. S. Department of Agriculture Second Annual Hispanic Heritage Food Fiesta to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at USDA in Washington, DC, Thursday, October 6, 2011. USDA Photo by Bob Nichols.

Russell Avalos, Ed Avalos, Undersecretary, Marketing and Regulatory, Max Finberg, Director, Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and Al Almonza, Administrator, Food Safety Inspection Service share a laugh at the U. S. Department of Agriculture Second Annual Hispanic Heritage Food Fiesta to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at USDA in Washington, DC, Thursday, October 6, 2011. USDA Photo by Bob Nichols.

Yesterday, hundreds of USDA employees gathered in the Whitten Patio to enjoy a celebratory food tasting in commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month.  More than two dozen employees volunteered as chefs to bring their homemade Hispanic cuisine to headquarters for the event. Among them was Under Secretary Ed Avalos, who cooked Red Chile, a traditional red sauce with meat spiced with New Mexico’s chile peppers. The Food Fiesta was truly a USDA family affair—Russell Avalos served portions of his father’s red chile, beans, and tortillas to lines of guests wrapped around the Patio. Read more »

Bountiful Harvest for Area Youth

Winyan Toka Win Garden, a 1.5 acre naturally raised garden, which is a major component of the Sustainable Systems initiative.

Winyan Toka Win Garden, a 1.5 acre naturally raised garden, which is a major component of the Sustainable Systems initiative.

Whether it is youth midnight basketball tournaments or a writing class in the library, the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP), in Eagle Butte, South Dakota is always bustling; serving the youth of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and community.  In the fall however, the CRYP is even busier with fall harvest from their Winyan Toka Win Garden, a 1.5 acre naturally raised garden, which is a major component of their Sustainable Systems initiative. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Trade Deals Create Jobs

This week, Congress will begin to take a look at important jobs legislation: new trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama and trade adjustment assistance to help train workers for the 21st century economy.  These agreements will help create jobs and provide new income opportunities for our nation’s agricultural producers, small businesses, and rural communities.

Today, farm exports help support more than 1 million American jobs.  Passage of these three agreements will infuse the American economy with an additional $2.3 billion in farm exports, supporting 20,000 American jobs. In fact, our nation’s economic output is estimated to grow more under the Korea agreement alone than from our last nine trade agreements combined. Read more »

USDA Tree Climber Finishes 12th in World Competition

International Tree Climbing Championship (photos courtest of Bear LeVangie)

International Tree Climbing Championship (photos courtest of Bear LeVangie)

Does your job relate to the activities you enjoy in your personal life?  Mine does.  In fact, no matter what challenges I’ve faced over the years, I’ve been able to stay sane because I am doing what I love to do, and I keep a positive mental attitude. Read more »

Supporting Specialty Crop Growers Through State Block Grants

The USDA awarded 55 grants to encourage the production and consumption of specialty crops. These grants will help new markets for American specialty crop producers and solidify local and regional markets.

The USDA awarded 55 grants to encourage the production and consumption of specialty crops. These grants will help new markets for American specialty crop producers and solidify local and regional markets.

When I go to the grocery store or visit my local farmers market, on the top of my shopping list are healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, and nuts. I know that these items, part of a larger agricultural group classified as specialty crops, are a critical component of maintaining a healthy diet and that it is important for me to include them in my family’s meals. Making sure that all Americans have access to healthy foods like specialty crops is a priority for me and for the USDA. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack on Steve Jobs, Innovators and Entrepreneurs: At our Best When Fearless

“I think Steve Jobs and all the innovators and entrepreneurs of this country have been fearless and that’s when we operate at our best. I happen to be working in a field right now with the American farmer and rancher, who is fearless. They put a crop in the ground every day and we’re having a record year in agriculture. It’s part of a story that’s not told very often in the economy.  Trade surpluses,  job growth, record income levels. Because American agriculture takes a risk every day.”

– Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, asked about the death of Steve Jobs, on this morning’s “Morning Joe” on MSNBC