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Rural Development Helps Tribal Communities Grow

As President Obama challenges Americans to win the future, we at USDA are implementing ways to do so by helping tribal communities across the country out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build our global competition. Starting in rural America, but more specifically within tribal communities, we see an amazing opportunity to improve the economic climate and provide a better tomorrow for today’s youth.

At the 2011 Reservation Economic Summit, I was able to showcase the programs we are employing through USDA’s Rural Development to better the lives of those living in rural America, and to support tribal economic development. As the summit rang in its 25th anniversary, the conversation was abuzz with ideas on how to spur economic development in Indian Country – and investing in our Nation’s rural infrastructure is a great place to start. Read more »

What Do Cows and Birds Have in Common?

Male sage-grouse gather in Central Montana and perform competitive displays to attract females.

Male sage-grouse gather in Central Montana and perform competitive displays to attract females.

“What’s good for the birds is good for the cows,” says Duane Coombs, ranch manager for Smith Creek Ranch in central Nevada. That’s why Coombs and his neighbor on the other side of the Desatoya Mountain Range are working to restore habitat for the western sage-grouse, a chicken-sized bird that is being considered for endangered species listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Sage-grouse are a keystone species for the sagebrush ecosystem. Read more »

USDA Firma Acuerdo Para Proveer Redes de Oportunidades a las Instituciones Educativas Hispanas

USDA no está hablando solamente, sino que también toma medidas para ayudar a los hispanoamericanos. El Departamento puso un pie al frente hoy cuando el Secretario de Agricultura Federal Tom Vilsack y Sandra V. Serrano de la Asociación Hispana de Colegios y Universidades, firmaron un Acuerdo de Entendimiento que creará nuevos programas y otras actividades. Este acuerdo mejorará la educación de los hispanoamericanos para que sigan una carrera relacionada en el campo agrícola.

El acuerdo demuestra el esfuerzo que hace USDA en ayudar a los hispanoamericanos a tener una educación de excelencia mediante la colaboración con la Asociación Hispana de Colegios y Universidades (AHCU) para desarrollar un programa entre USDA y las Instituciones Educativas Hispanas. Read more »

USDA Signs Agreement to Provide Network of Opportunity for Hispanic Institutions

USDA isn’t just talking, but taking action to help Hispanic Americans. The department stepped forward today as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Sandra V. Serrano of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will build programs and other activities to help further the education of Hispanic Americans and contribute to the commitment of preparing America’s young people to pursue careers in agriculture.

The agreement highlights USDA’s dedication to helping Hispanic Americans achieve educational excellence by collaborating with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) to develop a USDA and Hispanic-Serving Institutions agenda. Read more »

Agricultural Science – from the Classroom to the Laboratory to the Plate

Last week, I was in South Carolina to see some of the work being done by USDA’s scientists at the U. S. Vegetable Laboratory, where researchers strive to improve vegetable yields and quality. Any chef will tell you great meals begin with high quality ingredients, and nutritionists will add that a colorful meal is a nutrient-dense meal.  On my way to the lab, I stopped at a place that is focused on that good food equation, especially using locally sourced produce: The Culinary Institute of Charleston at Trident Technical College. Read more »

USDA Sets New Standards for Reducing Foodborne Pathogens in Chickens and Turkeys, Preventing Up To 25,000 Illnesses

Secretary Vilsack believes there is no more fundamental function of government than protecting consumers, and there is no mission more important to USDA than ensuring the safety of our food. Prevention is our single greatest priority here, so this week the Department announced new performance standards aimed at reducing the occurrence of Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria in chickens and turkeys.  Within two years of implementing these standards, approximately 5,000 cases of Campylobacter illnesses and 20,000 cases of Salmonella illnesses will be prevented annually.

While the poultry industry has made significant strides in recent years, far too many Americans continue to fall victim to these foodborne illnesses – FSIS estimates nearly 350,000 from Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry annually, combined. These improved standards will drive the industry to do better.  They are tough but achievable.  And when fully implemented, they can help us lower the danger of foodborne illness.