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Federal Nutrition Assistance Helps Food Banks Keep Up With Demand

Last month I spoke to food bank leaders at the Feeding America Central Region conference, which was held in Baton Rouge, La., and hosted by the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. Attendees came from over 20 states to strategize about meeting the challenges of these tough economic times. Feeding America’s food banks help supply thousands of food pantries and emergency food sites across the U.S. and are among the many charitable organizations working hard to figure out ways to deal with decreased donations and a higher demand for food.

I told the group that it’s important that they continue to get the word out to food bank clients that USDA nutrition assistance is available to folks who meet the eligibility standards. Programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women Infants and Children program (WIC) still provide critical aid to individuals and families that may experience food insecurity. I also reminded them to encourage parents in their communities to enroll their children in school lunch and breakfast. School meals help ease the burden on families to provide three meals a day to the children in their households. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Expanding Trade with Vietnam and China

Next week I will travel to Vietnam and China on behalf of USDA and our nation’s farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses.  I want to strengthen trade relationships we have with both nations, support the American brand, and create more opportunities for American producers to sell their goods throughout the Asia Pacific region.

This year, China moved ahead of Mexico and Canada to become our number one export market for U.S. agricultural goods.  In the past decade, the Vietnamese market has also become increasingly important for our farmers, ranchers and growers – jumping from the 50th to 15th position as a market for U.S. farm exports. Read more »

Capitol Christmas Tree Heads Toward Nation’s Capitol

The 65-foot white fir that will be this year's Capitol Christmas Tree is loaded onto its flatbed truck by two cranes after being harvested Nov. 5. Prior to its harvesting on the Stanislaus National Forest in California, an elder from the Tuolumne Band of Me-wuk Indians blessed the majestic tree and its journey in a private ceremony. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The 65-foot white fir that will be this year's Capitol Christmas Tree is loaded onto its flatbed truck by two cranes after being harvested Nov. 5. Prior to its harvesting on the Stanislaus National Forest in California, an elder from the Tuolumne Band of Me-wuk Indians blessed the majestic tree and its journey in a private ceremony. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The 65-foot white fir from California’s Stanislaus National Forest was harvested and embarked on its journey toward the nation’s capitol on Nov. 5. Read more »

APHIS Veterinarian’s Love of Animals Starts at a Young Age

Hello, I’m Dr. Jack Shere, the Eastern Regional Director for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services program.

As a kid, we had a German Shepherd mix puppy. My dad brought her home from a shelter and we took her to the veterinarian for shots. After a time, she got sick, displaying a series of symptoms that turned out to be distemper. She’d contracted it when she was too young for the puppy shots. The symptoms got worse until one Friday when she had a seizure in the kitchen. We called the vet to ask about bringing her in to be humanely put to sleep and the vet said he would. Watching this puppy die was heartbreaking for my entire family. I decided then to become a vet and to never turn down emergency calls so no one had to go through what my family did with this puppy. I’ve kept that vow in years since I graduated vet school. Read more »

Restored Ranch Provides Recreation to Disabled Vets

Wood duck boxes were placed throughout the property to encourage nesting on the ranch.

Wood duck boxes were placed throughout the property to encourage nesting on the ranch.

For disabled military veterans who used to be sportsmen but thought they no longer had the same access to the great outdoors, the 2,000-acre Barker Ranch in West Richland, Wash. provides the opportunity to rekindle that experience. Read more »

Youth Education Blooming at Poland’s People’s Gardens

Zenon Rzymski, the  4H “Horizon” leader from Wrzesnia, Poland, stands in the People’s Garden his 4H club grows and tends as part of the School Garden Project, which was initiated by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) office in Warsaw, Poland. In all, 30 4-H club including 520 children throughout Poland participated in the project. (Photo By Witold Rzymski.) *He gave the photo to FAS Warsaw and gave permission for it to be used and distributed by USDA. *Zenon Rzymski, the  4H “Horizon” leader from Wrzesnia, Poland, stands in the People’s Garden his 4H club grows and tends as part of the School Garden Project, which was initiated by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) office in Warsaw, Poland. In all, 30 4-H club including 520 children throughout Poland participated in the project. (Photo By Witold Rzymski.)

Zenon Rzymski, the 4H “Horizon” leader from Wrzesnia, Poland, stands in the People’s Garden his 4H club grows and tends as part of the School Garden Project, which was initiated by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) office in Warsaw, Poland. In all, 30 4-H club including 520 children throughout Poland participated in the project. (Photo By Witold Rzymski.)

Thanks to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) office in Warsaw, children in Poland are learning about health and nutrition and are helping preserve the environment – all while perfecting their gardening skills. Read more »