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Students, Shoppers Surprised That Food Safety Can Be “Fun”

In response to teacher Devitta Baker’s online request, the USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone traveled to Gwynn Park Middle School in Brandywine, Maryland this past Tuesday. From 8:30 a.m. until noon, the Discovery Zone staff taught 132 students and 16 teachers and parents how to Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill—just in time to use their new food safety knowledge at lunch. Read more »

A Fresh Idea!

In a nation founded on the values of hard work and entrepreneurship, we often look to industry leaders for the next game-changing idea. So it’s no surprise that I was excited to hear what the members of one of the fresh fruit and vegetable industry’s leading trade associations, United Fresh Produce Association, had to say about the future of farming in America.

At their annual Washington Public Policy Conference, United Fresh presents their “Grower Achievement Award” to honor “a role model for the industry” who has “taken agriculture to new heights in the areas of consumer-oriented marketing, technology; food quality and safety; industry leadership, and the spirit of achievement.” Read more »

Deputy Secretary Merrigan Addresses Kansas City Business Council, Meets Stakeholders, Concerning Sustainability and Food Systems

Kansas Rural Development State Director Patty Clark addresses stakeholders at a meeting to foster and support the Northeast Kansas/Kansas City Regional Food Initiative.

Kansas Rural Development State Director Patty Clark addresses stakeholders at a meeting to foster and support the Northeast Kansas/Kansas City Regional Food Initiative.

The Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City recently hosted an “Agricultural Sustainability Forum” at the legendary American Royal facilities in the historic Kansas City Stockyards district.  Among the featured speakers was USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. Read more »

USDA Consults with Latino Faith Leaders on Ways to Address Hunger

USDA officials address leaders from faith-based organizations at consultation on outreach to the Latino community

USDA officials address leaders from faith-based organizations at consultation on outreach to the Latino community

In early October, USDA’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships was honored to host a dozen Latino faith leaders to our “Tuve Hambre y Me Diste de Comer” (“For I was Hungry and You Fed Me”) consultation on improving Latino outreach. USDA studies show that 1 out of 4 Hispanic households in the US are food insecure and that this number is only growing. The situation is well-known among these leaders whose congregations and organizations are on the front lines of serving those threatened by hunger. Read more »

Rural America has Plenty to Share with Global Partners

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack accompanied by Pakistani Agriculture Minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal and Afghan Agriculture Minister Mohammad Asif Rahimi during their visit to the Keith and Sue McKinney’s farm in Colo, IA, on Wednesday, October 13, 2010.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack accompanied by Pakistani Agriculture Minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal and Afghan Agriculture Minister Mohammad Asif Rahimi during their visit to the Keith and Sue McKinney’s farm in Colo, IA, on Wednesday, October 13, 2010.

The little farming town of Colo sits just east of Ames, Iowa, in the central part of the state. It’s harvest season here. Farm families are trading shifts in their combines to harvest their crops before winter. Rows of soybean and corn stubble disappear into the yellow and brown rolling hills. Folks are hard at work, but some pause and begin to collect at Keith and Sue McKinney’s farm when Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack arrives, followed by Pakistani Agriculture Minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal and Afghan Agriculture Minister Mohammad Asif Rahimi. Secretary Vilsack invited Ministers Gondal and Rahimi to be his guests in Des Moines at the World Food Prize, and their meeting all together at the Colo farm was their first since May 2009 in Washington. Still, folks were standing around asking: What does Colo have to do with Afghanistan and Pakistan? But, as Secretary Vilsack, the McKinney family and faculty from Iowa State University explained, Colo could be a model not only for Afghanistan and Pakistan, but developing agricultural economies around the world. Read more »

NASS to create a new National Operations Center

Charles F. Prevedel building, the site of the new NASS National Operations Center

Charles F. Prevedel building, the site of the new NASS National Operations Center

For the past several years USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has worked on transforming our agency by raising the already high level of service even higher. Today we took the next step in this transformation by creating the new National Operations Center in the Overland, Mo., which is close to the St. Louis metro area. Read more »