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The Future of Farming in America: An FFA Perspective

National FFA President Riley Pagett (left) and National FFA Vice President Shannon Norris (right)  present Secretary Vilsack with the Honorary American FFA Degree. This is the highest honor that the National FFA can bestow to supporters of Agricultural Education and FFA.  Photo courtesy FFA.

National FFA President Riley Pagett (left) and National FFA Vice President Shannon Norris (right) present Secretary Vilsack with the Honorary American FFA Degree. This is the highest honor that the National FFA can bestow to supporters of Agricultural Education and FFA. Photo courtesy FFA.

On Oct. 22, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke to the 84th National FFA Convention about the critical need to recruit and support the nation’s next generation of farmers and ranchers. In June, I had a chance to sit down with Landan Schaffert, National FFA Secretary, to talk about what the future holds for him in farming. Read more »

Ground-breaking Partnership Brings Celebrity Recipe to Chicago Student Lunches

Savory chicken, sweet and spicy baked beans, and glazed carrots were part of the new recipe served to students in Chicago schools.

Savory chicken, sweet and spicy baked beans, and glazed carrots were part of the new recipe served to students in Chicago schools.

One of USDA’s most important missions is providing healthy meals to school lunch programs across the country.  In a unique partnership, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) agencies teamed up with Rachael Ray’s Yum-o! non-profit organization, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system and Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality to create and serve a new healthy, tasty and exciting school lunch recipe.

To do this, Bob Bloomer of Chartwells-Thompson, the provider of meals in most of Chicago’s schools, worked with the Agricultural Marketing Service to acquire fresh, unprocessed chicken. After issuing a solicitation and competitive bids from domestic suppliers, the Agricultural Marketing Service awarded the first contract for two truckloads—that’s 80,000 pounds —of raw chicken leg quarters for shipment to Chicago’s schools.

Read more »

Carbon Study Conducted on US Forest Service Land Reveals Unexpected Results

A picture of one the U.S. Forest Service's 89 experimental forests. (Photo courtesy of the US Forest Service)

A picture of one the U.S. Forest Service's 89 experimental forests. (Photo courtesy of the US Forest Service)

A 12-year study on the U.S. Forest Service’s Harshaw Experimental Forest near Rhinelander, WI is challenging long-held assumptions about how future forests will respond to the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Read more »

APHIS Veterinarian Dr. Larry Ludemann Shares His Experiences Overseas

Hello, I’m Dr. Larry Ludemann and I’m a Senior Staff Veterinarian for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB).  It’s our job to make sure veterinary biologics, including vaccines, are safe, pure, potent and effective.

My duties include reviewing and licensing veterinary vaccines.   Manufacturers looking for approval on a vaccine are required to submit supporting data and reports about the vaccine for analysis.  I am responsible for writing a response to this submitted information.  Before taking my current position, I also spent 13 years in the CVB testing lab. Read more »

Turkey FUNdamentals: Planning for Thanksgiving

Cross posted from the FoodSafety.gov blog:

Okay, so it’s your turn to host the annual Thanksgiving feast. Aunt Sara has been cooking turkeys for 40 years, and Cousin Rachel is a gourmet cook. Can you tackle a turkey without being traumatized?

Yes you can!  Believe it or not, taking care of “Tom” isn’t that tough, and it can actually be FUN!  Just follow USDA’s “Turkey FUNdamentals” and your bird will turn out fine. The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline says that each November, both novice and experienced cooks have the same basic questions on preparing turkey. Here they are: Read more »

Meeting Tomorrow’s Ag Leaders at the FFA Convention

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack center with FFA award winners at the 84th Annual National Convention of the FFA on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2011, in Indianapolis, IN. Photo courtesy FFA.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack center with FFA award winners at the 84th Annual National Convention of the FFA on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2011, in Indianapolis, IN. Photo courtesy FFA.

Last week, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) representatives collaborated with bright, young agricultural leaders at the National FFA Convention. The event truly showcased talented youth from all over the country. Read more »