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USDA Celebrates the United States’ Entry into the Open Government Partnership

President Obama has made openness a high priority, committing his Administration to an “unprecedented level of openness in Government” on his first full day in office.

Since then, the Administration has disclosed more and more information requested under the Freedom of Information Act. We have made voluminous information available on and other government websites and we have used technology in innovative ways that harness government information to improve the lives of ordinary citizens. Read more »

Recognizing Farmer Health, Safety, and Their Contributions to the Nation

At USDA, we look every day to support America’s farmers and ranchers stay profitable, safe and successful in their work to provide this country with the reliable and affordable supply of food, fiber – and increasingly – fuel we need.  This week, National Farm Safety and Health Week, President Obama signed a proclamation reflecting the importance of America’s producers to the strength of our nation.

Read the full text of the proclamation here.

Forest Service Job Corps Students Help Restore Historical Monument in South Dakota

Seth Bullock’s plans for the Mount Roosevelt monument

Seth Bullock’s plans for the Mount Roosevelt monument

Mount Roosevelt in South Dakota is maintained by the Black Hills National Forest as a recreational trail and picnic area where the  5,690-foot summit is dominated by the Friendship Tower— a stone memorial that rises about 25 feet above the surrounding meadow.

Friendship Tower was built by Seth Bullock in 1919 in honor of his friend President Theodore Roosevelt.  Bullock, a former sheriff of Deadwood, S.D.,  wanted to create a memorial of his friend’s life and a place where people could view wide open spaces that both Bullock and Roosevelt had become so fond of during their lives. He had met Roosevelt, then a deputy sheriff from Medora, N.D., in 1884. The two quickly became lifelong friends, Roosevelt later saying of Bullock, “Seth Bullock is a true Westerner, the finest type of frontiersman.” Read more »

Cotton Helps Insulate Communities the Green Way

Denim jeans are versatile because you can wear them for almost any occasion, but there are even more ways they can be used outside of your wardrobe.

Cotton. From Blue to Green® transforms used jeans into UltraTouch ™ Denim Insulation for communities in need. This amazing project uses an environmentally responsible process to help jump start rebuilding communities.  The program has partnered with many organizations, including Habitat for Humanity affiliates, to install home insulation for victims of disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, and for those needing help to finish their homes.  They also offer grants to improve community buildings and partner with college and university campuses to host denim collection drives. Read more »

Putting Pennsylvanians Back to Work

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak during a round table and public event at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA, on  Friday, September 16, 2011. (Photo by Christopher Rolinson/StartPoint Media, Inc.)

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak during a round table and public event at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA, on Friday, September 16, 2011. (Photo by Christopher Rolinson/StartPoint Media, Inc.)

Last week, I visited the city of Pittsburgh to highlight the American Jobs Act and what it means for Pennsylvanians. This was a special trip for me because Pittsburgh is my hometown and I still have deep family ties there.

In Pittsburgh, I led a White House Business Council roundtable hosted by Point Park University. It was one of a series of meetings being held across the country to give senior Obama Administration officials an opportunity to hear directly from business leaders about their ideas on how to grow the economy. The roundtable also provided me an opportunity to discuss USDA programs and other federal resources that help businesses, residents and communities. Read more »

Celebrating Nature’s Hidden Treasure – The Mushroom

As a mushroom enthusiast, National Mushroom Month is one of the most anticipated times of the year for me.  It’s a chance to eat as many of the mushroom’s healthy, tasty varieties as possible in new and classic heart-warming recipes.

Mushrooms are a great source of nutrients – including vitamin D, riboflavin, niacin, potassium, selenium and B vitamins – that can help every American meet the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) MyPlate guidelines for healthy eating. Because mushrooms are low in calories, fat and cholesterol-free, and low in sodium, their hearty, meaty texture provides a satisfying meal option that can fill you up while helping you sustain healthy eating habits.

Read more »