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Passion for the Future of Agriculture

If I could use one word to describe the farmers and ranchers I have met during my time as Deputy Secretary it would be passionate. Last week, it was my great pleasure to join the White House in honoring 17 extraordinary new and beginning farmers who represent the future of agriculture—and let me say, that future is incredibly bright. As our world population continues to grow, it is expected that there will be over 9 billion people to feed by 2050. With this population growth also comes a growing need for new farmers to take on the challenge of feeding the world.

The White House Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals, businesses, and organizations doing innovative things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The most recent Champions of Change program featured individuals who are dedicated to the future of American agriculture. These individuals are doing extraordinary things to build the bench for the next generation of farming and ranching.  These champions are leading in their industries and communities, inspiring others who want to find careers and a life on the land. Read more »

School Nutrition Standards Underpin Healthy Eating Habits

School lunch staff and students enjoy the new school lunch menu created to meet the new standards at the Yorkshire Elementary School in Manassas, VA on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

School lunch staff and students enjoy the new school lunch menu created to meet the new standards at the Yorkshire Elementary School in Manassas, VA on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

In this week’s guest post, Dr. Stephen Cook describes the childhood overweight and obesity epidemic based on first-hand experience with patients in his clinical practice.  He also discusses the important role that school nutrition plays in both short- and long-term health outcomes among our nation’s children.

Dr. Stephen Cook, M.D., Ph.D., American Heart Association Volunteer

It’s a hard truth to swallow, but childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions – and diet has a lot to do with it. In the city of Rochester, where I currently live and work, almost half of all children are overweight or obese. In fact, one of the patients in my practice was already considered obese at the tender age of three. By the time he turned four, his BMI was over the 98th percentile for his age. Read more »

Smokey Bear, Iconic Symbol of Wildfire Prevention, Still Going Strong at 70

Smokey Bear fire danger signs can be seen on many national forests and grasslands as a reminder to visitors that, “Only YOU can prevent wildfires.” (U.S. Forest Service)

Smokey Bear fire danger signs can be seen on many national forests and grasslands as a reminder to visitors that, “Only YOU can prevent wildfires.” (U.S. Forest Service)

“Remember . . . Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires.”

For more than 50 years, that iconic catch phrase grabbed the hearts and minds of generations of children, spurred a series of books, games and gifts, helped to change the face of wildland firefighting and prompted more than one child to grow up to be a forester.

“On Saturday morning’s, I would watch the ‘Farm Report’ just waiting for ‘Lassie’ to come on,” said Glenn Casamassa, a Long Island, New York, native who grew up to become a forester. “Right after the Farm Report I saw this bear talking about forest fires, and it got me thinking about the woods. As a kid, Smokey and his message really stuck in my head.” Read more »

Buckeye State’s Agriculture in a Nutshell

Up 42% since the last Census of Agriculture, Ohio’s agriculture is really growing!  Check back next Thursday for another Census Spotlight on another state and the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

Up 42% since the last Census of Agriculture, Ohio’s agriculture is really growing! Check back next Thursday for another Census Spotlight on another state and the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

The 2012 Census of Agriculture results are out and, just as many predicted, Ohio continues to grow agriculturally. True to our rich history, the Buckeye State is a large contributor of corn, soybeans, winter wheat, milk, hogs, poultry, and floriculture and nursery. And that is just a few of our many commodities produced in Ohio.

According to the census results, there are 75,462 farms (ranking 7th nationally) on 13,960,904 acres of farm land in Ohio. Even though 2012 was a drought year, Ohio ranked 13th nationally in total sales by topping $10 billion, a whopping 42 percent increase from just five years ago, which was the last time my agency conducted the Census of Agriculture. We also ranked 10th nationally in crop sales with just under $6.6.billion and 20th nationally in livestock sales with just under $3.5 billion. Read more »

Land Acquisition Protects Headwaters in Oregon’s Malheur National Forest

The Strawberry Mountain Wilderness Area can be seen from one of the newly acquired parcels along the John Day River headwaters. (U.S. Forest Service/Ken Sandusky)

The Strawberry Mountain Wilderness Area can be seen from one of the newly acquired parcels along the John Day River headwaters. (U.S. Forest Service/Ken Sandusky)

On July 10, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Malheur National Forest celebrated the largest land acquisition in the history of the Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service.

This acquisition of 13,085 acres will consolidate protection of the headwaters of the John Day River, which drain from the Strawberry Mountains. The new land will fill in the gaps of what was a checkerboard arrangement around the headwaters, creating a protected area which now stretches more than 20,000 acres. Along with hunters and other recreationists, several species of wildlife and fish will benefit from this crucial linkage with existing public lands and established wildlife corridors. The river itself is home to endangered bull trout, as well as redband rainbow trout. It is also the destination for spawning mid-Columbia steelhead and chinook. Elk, deer, black bear, pronghorn, mountain goats, grouse and quail also make their home on the land surrounding the headwaters. Read more »

USDA Leadership Helps Host the 2014 Kids’ State Dinner

Pictured left to right, Jackie Haven and Angie Tagtow with Anabel Bradley and her mother, Julia Bradley. Anabel submitted the 2014 winning recipe from Iowa.

Pictured left to right, Jackie Haven and Angie Tagtow with Anabel Bradley and her mother, Julia Bradley. Anabel submitted the 2014 winning recipe from Iowa.

CNPP’s new Executive Director, Angela Tagtow, MS, RD, LD, closed out her first week with USDA by honoring the winners of the 2014 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge recipe contest at the White House during the Kids’ State Dinner on July 18. Below are her impressions from the event. Read more »