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Peru-Ecuador Trade Mission Already Yielding Results

FFAS Acting Under Secretary Scuse and other members of the U.S.-Peru-Ecuador Agribusiness Trade and Investment Mission to Lima, Peru, tour a greenhouse where aeroponics is used to grow potato varieties at the International Potato Center in Lima. Photo Credit: Victor Malpica

FFAS Acting Under Secretary Scuse and other members of the U.S.-Peru-Ecuador Agribusiness Trade and Investment Mission to Lima, Peru, tour a greenhouse where aeroponics is used to grow potato varieties at the International Potato Center in Lima. Photo Credit: Victor Malpica

The first U.S. Agribusiness Trade and Investment Mission to Peru and Ecuador ended on a high note February 2. Over two days, 20 U.S. companies had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with dozens of Peruvian and Ecuadorian producers, processors, buyers, traders, and investors, who had come to form partnerships and develop trade relationships. I am pleased to report that some business deals have been finalized with more in process. The in-person contact provided by the mission has been absolutely essential to establishing a foundation for future trade. Read more »

Celebrating Washington, DC’s first Gold Award of Distinction in USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge

Agriculture Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin W. Concannon (right) tries a few words of Spanish with Marlon DeBose (green shirt), and other students in this 2nd grade Spanish class seated at this table, in the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School, on Wednesday, February 2, 2011.  The school is the first Washington, D.C. school to achieve the Gold Award of Distinction from the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC).  They will now hold the certification and distinction for four years. The goal of the HUSSC is to improve the health of the Nation’s children by promoting healthier school environments. (U.S. Department of Agriculture photo by Lance Cheung)

Agriculture Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin W. Concannon (right) tries a few words of Spanish with Marlon DeBose (green shirt), and other students in this 2nd grade Spanish class seated at this table, in the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School, on Wednesday, February 2, 2011. The school is the first Washington, D.C. school to achieve the Gold Award of Distinction from the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC). They will now hold the certification and distinction for four years. The goal of the HUSSC is to improve the health of the Nation’s children by promoting healthier school environments. (U.S. Department of Agriculture photo by Lance Cheung)

I had the pleasure of celebrating the top notch achievement of the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School as USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon and District of Columbia State Superintendent of Education Hosanna Mahaley presented this great school with a HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award of Distinction.  The award represents the highest honor a school can achieve in the Challenge and they couldn’t have done it without the committed leadership and staff at this special school.  This school is truly a role model and the award puts them on the map as the first school in the nation’s capital to earn the Gold Award of Distinction.  E.W. Stokes is a diverse pre-school and elementary school providing instruction in two languages.  Their unwavering commitment to sharing the benefits of physical activity and making good food choices is evident in everything they do! Read more »

South Dakota Native American Teen Center Purchases Equipment with USDA Support

In a past visit to the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP), in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, USDA Rural Development State Director, Elsie, M. Meeks, viewed the boxes and boxes of toys to be delivered on Christmas Eve.  Each year CRYP collects “Dear Santa” letters from over a 1,000 children on the Cheyenne River reservation, solicits funds and in-kind donations from organizations and individuals around the world, matches the Santa lists with just the right gifts and delivers the beautifully wrapped packages to eager children — and their grateful families. Read more »

FSA Livestock Programs Help Producers Recoup Losses from Winter Storms

The massive snow storm that covered half of the United States, producing two feet of snow in some parts of the Midwest and bringing a wintery mix of ice and snow in the Northeastern parts of the nation, could  also cause serious harm to livestock.

With some pasture and forage areas destroyed with the remnants of what has been labeled “Snowmageddon,” many producers also are losing their animals to cold and hypothermia, and are seeking ways to help recuperate their losses. Read more »

Hunger Doesn’t Take a Summer Vacation, and neither does the Riverside Unified School District

Riverside kids enjoy a free summer BBQ

Riverside kids enjoy a free summer BBQ

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) Nutrition Services Director, Rodney Taylor, knows the face of hunger in his community.  On a daily basis, Rodney’s team serve lunch to about 34,000 RUSD kids, 61 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced price meals.  While the RUSD staff offer these students a fresh, healthy, nutritious meal during the school year, where do students eat during the summer?  In previous years, many students ate lunch at summer school.  However, steep budget cuts in 2008 and 2009 forced many school districts, including RUSD, to drastically reduce their summer school sites to only three schools, leaving about 25,000 kids without a place to eat.  Without the summer school program, where would those kids eat?  That is where the RUSD’s summer barbeques come in. Read more »

Land Conservation Program Celebrates 25 Years of Creating and Protecting Wildlife Habitat Protection

Secretary Vilsack announced there will be a CRP sign-up beginning March 14, with a goal of enrolling 4 million acres.

Secretary Vilsack announced there will be a CRP sign-up beginning March 14, with a goal of enrolling 4 million acres.

It’s not every day that a civil servant gets to feel like a rock star.

But at the 2011 National Pheasant Fest in Omaha, Nebraska this past weekend, employees of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) were a bit like celebrities to thousands of hunters and land managers who love pheasants. Pheasant Fest is a trade show that focuses on wildlife conservation, upland game bird hunting and wildlife habitat management and restoration. Read more »