Puerto Rico’s agriculture has been steadily declining and imports total 85 percent of the food consumed on the island. Additionally, almost all of the $11 million per year that USDA purchases for use in Puerto Rico’s school meals are purchased from companies in the continental United States. What’s more, each year the island’s School Food Authority purchases about $80 million in food to be served in school. We saw these as opportunities for local farmers and decided to do something about it.
The Market Expansion Conference, held June 23-24 in San Juan, teamed seven U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agencies and other Commonwealth and federal partners to show over 250 farmers how to sell food to local schools, expand their businesses and increase their participation in USDA programs. Puerto Rico’s milk farmers, cattle ranchers, pineapple growers and many others eagerly listened to USDA experts explain grading and licensing, and provide information in the areas of funding and procurement. Read more »
When Terri Trevino heard that the agriculture program in the Calvert Independent School District in Texas might be suspended due to the lack of an instructor, she immediately turned to the Farm Service Agency to fill the gap.
“I knew that it was important to keep the agriculture program active because of the town’s background and dependence on agriculture as a way of life,” said Trevino, farm loan manager for Bell, Falls, Milam and Williamson counties in Texas. “I also know how important the role of a teacher is in keeping kids interested in learning and staying in school.” Read more »
Thank you Willie Nelson for giving us a great theme song during our journey around the great state of Texas recently as we continued the conversation about jobs and economic growth in rural America that began in December with President Obama at the White House. The Farm Service Agency Executive Director, Juan Garcia, and I decided that the best way to hold these forums were to do it face-to-face with our rural communities. Nine days of driving over 3000 miles, we met with over 100 Texans at seven forums held in strategically located areas. Read more »