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Posts tagged: Department of State

Obama Administration Launches Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture

From record droughts in Kansas to deadly wildfires in California, the United States is feeling the effects of climate change. These same conditions have a dire impact across the developing world, especially for poor, rural smallholder farmers whose very lives are threatened every time the rains arrive late, the floods rush in, or the temperature soars.

By 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach nine billion people. Feeding them will require at least a 60 percent increase in agricultural production. There is no greater challenge to meeting this need than climate change. It poses a range of unprecedented threats to the livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people and to the very planet that sustains us. In order to ensure that hundreds of millions of people are not born into a debilitating cycle of under-nutrition and hunger, we must address the urgent threat that climate change poses. Read more »

Tracing a Path Out of a Costly Trade Dispute

The trade dispute was resolved after AMS helped the businesses produce paper work and take the South Korean officials on tours of orange juice processing plants. USDA Photo courtesy of Ken Hammond.

The trade dispute was resolved after AMS helped the businesses produce paper work and take the South Korean officials on tours of orange juice processing plants. USDA Photo courtesy of Ken Hammond.

When we shop for items like orange juice at the grocery store, we often take for granted what goes on behind the scenes before we can enjoy these quality foods. Our nation’s producers and processors do not take it for granted. These products represent their livelihood, and the ability to reach new customers—especially through the export market—is critical to their businesses’ success. Recently, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) helped four businesses from Florida avert a costly 54% tariff, enabling them to continue to export frozen concentrated orange juice duty free to South Korea.

The US – Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) exempts U.S. orange juice from a 54% tariff when exported to Korea. However, in March 2013 Korean officials questioned the domestic origin of orange juice exported from the Sunshine State to the East Asian country. Without proof that the juice came from the U.S., exporters faced the costly tariff and the volume of exports to South Korea decreased. It was a huge loss for the Florida citrus industry which creates 76,000 jobs and pumps $9 billion into its local economy. Read more »

Celebrating 90-Plus Years of USDA’s International Activities

Asher Hobson in Rome, who six years later would become the first head of the Foreign Agricultural Service.

Asher Hobson in Rome, who six years later would become the first head of the Foreign Agricultural Service.

The modern Foreign Service is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, as is the American Foreign Service Association. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge signed the Foreign Service Act into law, combining the United States diplomatic and consular services to create the United States Foreign Service. By that time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had already been posting employees overseas for 42 years.

Thanks to President Coolidge’s curiosity, we possess a rare snapshot of USDA international activities in 1924. On December 22 of that year, Coolidge, in his characteristically laconic style, sent a one-line letter to Secretary of Agriculture Howard Gore: “I shall appreciate it if you will send me as soon as possible a list of the representatives the Department may have abroad, their posts and just what they are doing.”  Surviving copies of urgent correspondence in the National Archives in College Park testify to the flurry of activity that ensued over the next two weeks as a data call went out to all USDA field offices. Read more »

Forest Service Recognizes United Nations’ International Day of Forests

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state. (Robert Westover/U.S. Forest Service Photo)

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state. (Robert Westover/U.S. Forest Service Photo)

Try going one full day without using a product derived from a tree.

You won’t be able to use a pencil or paper or sit on your couch or at a desk. You won’t be able to check the mail or drink coffee while reading the newspaper. Read more »

USDA and Other Federal Employees Meet in Northern Wisconsin to Discuss the Importance of Title IX

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 addressing gender equity in educational programming. For the first time, this groundbreaking legislation mandated equal opportunity for women in all fields of federally funded public education. The passage of Title IX changed the American education system in ways unimaginable just decades earlier.

Pat Leavenworth, NRCS Wisconsin State Conservationist, welcomes attendees to the 2012 USDA Interagency Conference. NRCS is the current lead agency for Federal Women’s Program, who hosts the conference.

Pat Leavenworth, NRCS Wisconsin State Conservationist, welcomes attendees to the 2012 USDA Interagency Conference. NRCS is the current lead agency for Federal Women’s Program, who hosts the conference.

The Wisconsin USDA Interagency Conference, hosted by the Federal Women’s Program (FWP), is also celebrating its 40th year of existence. Read more »

Bridging the Gap on Agricultural Research and Development with the Private Sector

Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics

Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with 70 private sector representatives at the first Feed the Future Public-Private Partnership Technical Forum, hosted jointly by USDA, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Department of State at the White House Conference Center. We discussed potential partnerships to increase agricultural growth in developing countries. Then we rolled up our sleeves got to work aligning investments and connecting individuals and activities. Read more »