Last week, President and Mrs. Obama hosted France’s President, Francois Hollande for a State Dinner on the South Lawn of the White House. State Dinners are a way to celebrate U.S. relations with international friends and allies. Past dinners at the White House during the Obama Administration have hosted visiting heads of state from nations including India, Mexico, China, Germany, and Great Britain. In many ways, these events are an opportunity to demonstrate and celebrate for invited guests and the world, the cultural and culinary heritages of our country.
The State Dinner last week was an excellent example, highlighting the diversity of American agricultural and rural products that our nation has to offer. The dinner celebrated the “best of American cuisine” and featured dry-aged rib eye beef from Colorado, trout from Maine, cheese from Vermont, chocolate from Hawaii, and potatoes from New York, Idaho, and California. The wines served at the dinner included excellent selections featuring California, Washington State, and Virginia offerings. However, beyond the menu itself an equally impressive feature was the visible presence of American cut flowers that decorated and added a stunning visual touch for guests at the White House. The floral arrangements displayed at the dinner included: Read more »
Alex Weiss from Caledonia Spirits, Arnold Coombs from Bascom Family Farms, and Jeremy Stephenson from the Vermont Cheese Council, attend the Food and Hotel China Show in Shanghai to exhibit their agricultural products. The small businesses attended the trade show with the help of one of the State and Regional Trade Groups – coalitions of state departments of agriculture – that use USDA market development program funds to provide support for about 30,000 companies annually. (Courtesy Photo)
Recently, USDA announced that U.S. agricultural exports for fiscal year 2013 finished at another record level, continuing the strongest five-year period for such exports in our nation’s history. Much of this success is due to small businesses, which Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack noted are the backbone of the economy in rural communities, small towns and big cities.
USDA’s efforts with small businesses is helped by the work of four State Regional Trade Groups – coalitions of state departments of agriculture – that use USDA market development program funds to provide support for about 30,000 companies annually. Read more »
EU Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Cioloş (left) Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced that the United States and the European Union formed a partnership that will recognize the two organic programs as equivalent and allow access to each other's markets. The announcement was made at the BioFach World Organic Fair in Nuremberg, Germany on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. Photo courtesy of the European Commission.
Travis Forgues is an organic dairy farmer in the town of Alburgh in northwest Vermont, almost at the Canadian border and surrounded on three sides by Lake Champlain. Like many of the other dairy farmers in northern Vermont, Travis is a realist. He went to college. He tried city life. But he was born into farming, and that’s how he wanted to raise his own family. So Travis went to his dad and had a talk about organic farming, and he convinced his father, and then many others, to convert their land from conventional agricultural practices to organic. As Travis saw it, organics was a growing niche within American agriculture, and consumer demand for organically produced dairy was taking off. Better still, consumers were willing to pay more for organic products. Today, as a result of Travis’ work, nearly 130 dairy farmers across New England have signed on to the “New England Pastures” organic dairy cooperative for Organic Valley. Read more »