Executive Master Gardeners Tanya Brown USDA-FSA (right) and Lee Cliburn USDA-AMS pick okra from the USDA People’s Garden on the corner of Jefferson Drive and 12th Street, SW. Photo by Annie Ceccarini, USDA.
All summer, visitors to the National Capitol Region have been seeing monuments, public buildings, works of art and experiencing music and theater; however, many were unexpectedly surprised by the brilliant hues of purple, red and green emanating from USDA’s People’s Garden.
But those colors didn’t just pop up on their own. USDA has a cadre of friendly and knowledgeable employee volunteers who plant, maintain and harvest as well as interact and answer questions from hundreds of people who stop by to admire the garden. Read more »
USDA Dairy Program’s Roger Cryan, Director of the Economics Division (left), and Butch Speth, National Supervisor of Dairy Market News, answered questions and spoke with stakeholders at the 2014 World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.
Last week, the 2014 World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin drew more than 70,000 dairy farmers, processors and other stakeholders from across the country and around the globe. Attendees explored exhibits featuring elite dairy cattle, the latest in dairy research, the newest farm equipment and innovations from the dairy industry service sector. High school and college students—the next generation of American agriculture—explored career and internship opportunities. And people visiting the exhibit booth of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) learned about the many services we offer, and the work we do to improve and expand domestic and international markets for U.S. fluid milk and dairy products.
Our Dairy Program helps America’s dairy farmers and producers efficiently market high-quality milk and a wide range of dairy products. A prime example is our Dairy Market News and mandatory dairy commodity prices reporting. These services provide timely and accurate market information on milk and dairy products, assisting the dairy industry in making buying and selling decisions and in planning for the future. Read more »
USDA is committed to working with our partners in the sheep industry to support them as they provide quality products to consumers and increase producer returns here at home. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung
Since they were brought over during the earliest explorations of North America, the sheep industry has played a vital role in the agricultural history of our nation. In the 1940s, there were over 55 million sheep in the U.S., but today those numbers hover around one-tenth of that total. There are about 80,000 sheep ranchers across the U.S., and, with support from the 2014 Farm Bill, they will have additional resources to help develop innovative approaches to address their long-term needs.
Consolidation of the U.S. sheep packing industry, higher feed and energy costs, loss of animals to predators and lower lamb consumption, along with competition from imported of lamb cuts, have taken their toll on U.S. sheep producers. In response to industry needs, USDA is committed to working with our stakeholders to ensure the long-term viability of the sheep industry. Read more »
A recent meeting connected fruit and vegetable industry leaders with the USDA employees they communicate with on a regular basis. A continuous dialogue with these leaders helps their industries remain nimble and better able to adjust to changes in the marketplace.
The fruit and vegetable industry is an integral part of our country. Besides helping increase access to healthy foods, the industry generates $40 billion in sales and empowers communities by creating jobs and stimulating economies. While it’s great to notice the strength of the produce industry, it is important to remember that it is the result of careful research and planning. I had the chance to watch the industry rekindle this energy as I visited with leaders from each of our marketing order boards and committees during a management conference last week.
There were some great takeaways from the meeting. We heard an update about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor. He ensured us that FDA is looking to collaborate with partners like USDA to help the industry comply with the FSMA regulations when they become final. We also heard from our Commodity Procurement Program Director Dave Tuckwiller, who encouraged everyone to take advantage of new opportunities to sell food to USDA. Thanks to new National School Lunch standards, my agency, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) purchased 20 percent more fruits and veggies in 2013 than in the previous year. Read more »
Partnering for a Strong Rural Economy is a USDA Specialty
A strong rural economy benefits the whole nation. Sales of specialty crops – which include everything from fruits and vegetables to tree nuts, cut flowers and nursery crops – total nearly $65 billion per year. The success of specialty crop farmers and businesses creates opportunities for new jobs and is critical to the rural economy. That’s why my agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is partnering with states to support the hardworking American farmers who grow these products.
This week Secretary Tom Vilsack announced millions of dollars in grant funding authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill, including $66 million in Specialty Crop Block Grants (SCBG) awarded by AMS. The goal of the SCBG program is to promote and increase opportunities for specialty crop producers by supporting projects that create new business opportunities, boost productivity and improve food safety. Every state department of agriculture receives a block grant that it can use to fund projects that support its specific priorities. This year’s specialty crop block grants fund 838 projects across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories.
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USDA’s investments in local and regional food systems help provide farmers and ranchers with greater opportunities, consumers with more choices and bring jobs to rural and urban communities. USDA Photo.
Strong local food systems are one of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Vilsack’s four key pillars to revitalize rural economies. On Monday, he announced the award of over $52 million to support local and regional food systems and the organic industry through five USDA grant programs. Most of the grants were authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill.
As part of that announcement, my agency—the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)—awarded over $27 million in competitive grants to expand marketing through the new Farmers Market and Local Food Marketing Promotion Program, as well as over $1 million in matching grants through the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP). For years, AMS has led USDA efforts to support local and regional food systems by awarding grants that give farmers and ranchers around the country tools to reach consumers, strengthen ties between urban and rural communities and help meet the growing demand for locally and regionally produced food. Read more »