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New, Convenient Nutrition Facts Panels Can Help Shed Those Holiday Pounds—and Stay Healthy All Year

Now that the holidays are over, many Americans have made New Year’s resolutions to shed pounds they may have packed on from party buffets. If you’re one such health-minded person, you’re already familiar with the nutrition facts panels found on most foods.

Just last week, FSIS published a new rule that will make nutrition facts panels mandatory on about 40 of the most popular cuts of raw meat and poultry. This means that you’ll be able to compare the calories and fat content for ground turkey versus ground beef, or for pork chops versus chicken breasts, right in the store. Read more »

USDA: A Look Back on 2010

As we begin a new year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on USDA’s accomplishments in 2010. Last year, millions of families, communities and businesses across the nation benefitted from USDA’s programs.  Even during these tough economic times, working with the rest of the Obama Administration, USDA has produced real results for Americans.

Since I came to USDA, we have taken steps to put Americans back to work while rebuilding a strong foundation for sustainable future economic growth – especially in our rural communities.  We provided over $1 billion in financing to help thousands of small and emerging rural businesses expand, grow and innovate, creating or saving nearly 200,000 jobs.  We supported the construction and renovation of 1,400 critical community facilities projects for millions of rural residents including 312 education facilities, 196 libraries, 179 health care facilities, and 563 fire, rescue, and public safety facilities.  The Recovery Act gave us a real boost in these efforts.  Described in our Working for Rural Communities Report, these investments continue to create jobs and stimulate economic activity in rural communities so that unemployment rates are dropping around rural America. Read more »

Fields Green, Utility Costs Drop at an Arizona Ranch Thanks to Support from USDA

Photovoltaic array at Harvey Allen’s Well Service in Elfrida, Arizona.

Photovoltaic array at Harvey Allen’s Well Service in Elfrida, Arizona.

Harvey Allen isn’t the kind of man who wastes time. His ranch and well service in the tiny community of Elfrida, Arizona, means early mornings, long days and little leisure. But it’s not unusual lately to find him spending time staring at the meter of his ranch’s new photovoltaic (PV) electric system. He just can’t seem to get enough of watching that gauge! Read more »

A USDA Community Facilities Direct Loan Helps Build a New YMCA Building in New Hampshire

The Keene, New Hampshire YMCA has been operating for 125 years in this town of 22,563 residents. A few years ago, Jack Duggan of Monadnock Economic Development Corporation mentioned to me that the Y was looking toward its future and a new facility. And so the links in the chain started to build toward bringing a new Y to Keene and surrounding rural communities.

Scott Johnson, our Community Facilities and Business Programs Specialist and I met with key people from the Y, as well as Keene’s Mayor and City Manager. The Y’s board membership is made up of local leaders and business owners including the area’s largest employers. The board launched an awareness campaign, and organized a 45-member volunteer committee that eventually raised the largest not for profit fundraising campaign in the region’s history. Read more »

USDA Helps Americans Every Day, Every Way—and at Christmastime, Too.

Milwaukee Hunger Task Force is Wisconsin’s largest food bank and a valued USDA partner.

Milwaukee Hunger Task Force is Wisconsin’s largest food bank and a valued USDA partner.

Secretary Vilsack likes to say that because of the scope of its programs, USDA serves Americans every day, every way.

A recent experience from a Midwest feeding partner, Milwaukee Hunger Task Force, demonstrates the immense—and also incredibly personal—reach of USDA programs, the importance of our partners, and the positive effect our programs have on so many Americans, including the elderly. Read more »

Announcing This Year’s Distinguished Plenary Panel

USDA’s annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, Today’s Strategies & Tomorrow’s Opportunities, will be held February 24-25, 2011, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.

Secretary Tom Vilsack will deliver the Keynote Address.  The Distinguished Plenary Panel will be moderated by Christine Cochran, President of the Commodity Markets Council, and focus on the economy, managing risk, and broadband in rural communities.  The four panelists and their topics include:  Nariman Behravesh, the Chief Economist, IHS Global Insight, speaking on “The Global Economy;” Charles Whitman, the Founder and CEO of Infinium Capital Management, speaking on “Managing Risk and Electronic Trading;” Pete Nessler, President of FCStone LLC, speaking on “Managing Risk in a Complex World;” and Michael Copps, Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, speaking on “Broadband in Rural Communities.”

For more insight on the breadth and depth of their experience, please visit their biographies and register for the Forum.