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Vilsack Addresses Food Security During Global Affairs Symposium

Today marks the release of the Feed the Future Initiative Guide during the Chicago Council of Global Affairs’ Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security. This guide lays out the implementation strategy for the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative. USDA has been actively engaged in the development of the Feed the Future strategy from its inception and created an inter-departmental food security council that has contributed to the Feed the Future strategy and provided reviews of country investment plans.

In Washington, DC today, Secretary Vilsack gave a speech on the importance of global food security during the symposium. During the symposium, Secretary Vilsack joined leaders of various U.S. Government agencies and world development groups to discuss U.S. food security and agricultural development policy in conjunction with this initiative. Secretary Vilsack touched on how many of USDA’s strengths would contribute immensely to this initiative, specifically the Department’s capacity to conduct and promote research, as well as contribute in the area of institutional capacity building.

Vilsack emphasized that USDA’s global food security strategy focuses on a number of interventions needed to increase global food production and increase the incomes of the poor. His speech focused on two of these areas: 1) research and extension, and 2) building capacity through assistance, sound public policies and institutions. 

USDA have been working with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop a global agricultural research agenda that addresses some of the fundamental constraints that contribute to food insecurity, such as pests, disease and weather in major food crops and livestock products. The strategy will also focus on increasing agricultural productivity and improving soil and water use efficiency.

Ensuring food security goes beyond just producing food—it also involves providing access to food, through trade, private investment in the agri-food sector, improving food safety and nutrition, and developing and deploying new technologies. USDA also offers fellowships to train scientists and faculty exchange programs to train agricultural faculty and develop adult education programs.

Creating a vibrant global food system, where all people have enough to eat, where farmers, wherever they are located, are profitable and are sustainable, is an important goal for USDA. USDA sees our engagement in Feed the Future as central to achieving that goal, and we believe that our unique capacities in research, extension, and institutional capacity building can make an important contribution to this initiative. 

Learn more about the Feed the Future Initiative at FeedtheFuture.gov.

Deputy Secretary Visits Romulus, Michigan Auto Parts Facility to Highlight Recovery Act Jobs Impact

Today, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited Aztec Manufacturing Corporation, a Romulus, Mich., auto supply manufacturer that intends to purchase new equipment as a result of loan funds guaranteed through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Read more »

USDA Officials Break Ground for a ‘People’s Garden’ in Dover, Delaware

Submitted by Kathy Beisner, Delaware USDA Rural Development Public Information Coordinator

Under bright, sunny Delaware skies, USDA Officials including Dave White, Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl Cook,  and Michael Scuse, Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services joined in a groundbreaking ceremony for America’s latest ‘People’s Garden.’ 

The new garden, in Dover, is located near the USDA State Office and is modeled after similar gardens established around the nation, including one on the grounds of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Jamie L. Whitten Building in Washington, D.C.  

In addition to federal officials, representatives of the State, Cooperative Extension, the Ruth N. Dorsey Relief Shelter, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, and North Dover Elementary School participated in the event this morning.  Among those assisting in planting the garden was teacher Susan Plucenik’s Second Grade Class from North Dover Elementary School.  The garden is the 300th planted across the Nation so far.  To learn more about the People’s Garden click here.

USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl Cook assists Celebrity Harmon.  Dylan Caldwell gets assistance from USDA Rural Development State Director Jack Tarburton.

USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl Cook assists Celebrity Harmon.  Dylan Caldwell gets assistance from USDA Rural Development State Director Jack Tarburton.

At the New Dover, Delaware People's Garden: (Left to Right)  Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Cheryl L. Cook; Chief Dave White, Natural Resources Conservation Service; and Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse.

At the New Dover, Delaware People’s Garden: (Left to Right)  Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Cheryl L. Cook; Chief Dave White, Natural Resources Conservation Service; and Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse.

USDA Rural Development Participates in the Vermont Small Business Lending Conference

By Anita Rios Moore, USDA Rural Development, Vermont

Molly Lambert, USDA Rural Development State Director for Vermont and key Vermont Business and Cooperative Program staff participated recently in the Vermont Small Business Lending Conference presented by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy.

The conference purpose was to bring as many small business lending opportunities and business development resources such as, lender, Government procurement counselors and Small Business Development Centers, directly to small businesses interested in learning about the available business lending opportunities that will help them to invest in job creation and business growth.

USDA Rural Development staff along with representatives from 35 other traditional and non-traditional lenders, and resource organizations met face-to-face with small business owners. Business Programs Loan Specialist, Kevin Morehouse engaged with an assortment of business owners ranging from winery & vineyard, organic food and baked goods operations, to award & gift product line distributors. He and the business owners  discussed next steps which might include a recommendation to meet with a financial advisor to review business plan and organize the business’ loan proposal.

“This conference brings the lenders and the resources to the business,” said State Director Lambert.“After one year of Recovery Act efforts, we are seeing people back to work, and economic growth, yet many small businesses still need the type of assistance and resources offered to them at conferences and workshops like this.”

USDA Water Program Funds Assist a Mississippi Community

Last month, Mississippi Rural Development State Director Trina George organized an event in the town of Leland which spotlighted a loan and grant combination awarded to Black Bayou Water Association. Read more »

Two New USDA Resources Announced to Help Reduce Hunger

By Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, USDA

Today was a great day for increasing access to SNAP (formerly the Food Stamp Program) benefits.  Here in Washington, I was joined by leaders from the food retail community, to announce two Federal resources to expand opportunities to nourish those in need.  A new sign for retailers, “We Welcome SNAP,” will now be displayed that will alter the way participants view these vital benefits.  While the new SNAP Retailer Locator, also announced today, is a convenient online tool that helps recipients find locations that accept – make that welcome – SNAP benefits and helps them make more informed shopping choices.

These two resources will also strengthen businesses.  Research shows us that every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates as much as $9.20 in total economic activity.  This is good news, since SNAP dollars move quickly into local economies.  In fact, 97 percent of SNAP benefits are redeemed within a month.

Whether it’s a new sign to welcome recipients and provide more comfort using their benefits or establishing ways to easily find stores welcoming  SNAP benefits, the Obama Administration is continuing its goal to ensure access to healthy nutrition for all Americans.

To learn more about the SNAP Retailer Locator, visit the web.

Snapshot of the Food and Nutrition Service's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) retail locater.

Snapshot of the Food and Nutrition Service’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) retail locater.