In the four years I’ve served as Deputy Secretary, I’ve talked with thousands of women in agriculture – from young women thinking about entering farming to older women who have been tilling the soil for decades. Each of their stories is powerful on its own. But taken together, they have been an inspiration to the entire country. And today, we know that there are nearly one million of these stories around the country – nearly one million women farming and ranching on America’s working lands.
A study released today by USDA’s Economic Research Service, Characteristics of Women Farm Operators and Their Farms found that the number of women-operated farms more than doubled between 1982 and 2007. When all women involved with farming are added up – including primary and secondary operators – they are nearly one million strong and account for 30% of U.S. farmers. Read more »
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, right of center, hosted two roundtable meetings in Lower Brule, SD on Feb. 28, 2013. Deputy Secretary Merrigan held a press availability with tribal leaders to reaffirm the Obama Administration’s commitment to Indian Country and highlight the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) efforts to promote business development and job creation in rural South Dakota. USDA photo by Tammi Shone.
Last week, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan led a USDA delegation deep into the heart of Indian Country in South Dakota. All three of us and our teams from USDA’s South Dakota state offices for Rural Development, the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service were joined by the Acting Director of the USDA Office of Tribal Relations, Max Finberg, along with Darlene Barnes, the regional director of the Food and Nutrition Service, and South Dakota’s Agriculture Commissioner Walt Bones. We were hosted by the Crow Creek and Lower Brule Sioux nations in the center of our state. The Deputy Secretary held a roundtable discussion on the importance of agriculture and economic development in Indian Country and visited a unique Native American food company. She was joined by many tribal leaders and organizations, including farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs. Read more »
Nathan Cann volunteers at Hollygrove Market and Farm (HGMF) in exchange for a box of fresh produce valued at $25.00 in New Orleans, LA on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. USDA photo by Karen Lawson.
New Orleans is known for many special things, not the least of which is its food.
That’s why Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan chose the crescent city this week to release a new report on the importance of food hubs in America. The report finds that there is an increasing demand for fresh, local foods and the popularity of food hubs is growing quickly. In fact, there are well over 200 across the country now, including Hollygrove Farm and Market in downtown New Orleans. Read more »
Deputy Secretary Merrigan surveys produce being grown by urban farmers in New Orleans.
Earlier this week, I traveled to New Orleans with Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan to meet with the local farming and fishing community. What I saw at the Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation (MQVN) was inspirational. Read more »
Last month, Hurricane Sandy prevented Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan from addressing USDA employees and guests at the Open House planned for National Work & Family Month. However, she wanted to be sure to take the time to emphasize the importance of USDA’s Work/Life & Wellness programs and what they mean for employees, supervisors and managers at the Department. Read more »
Three years ago this fall, Secretary Vilsack and I launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative (KYF2). Since then, we’ve seen interest and participation in local and regional food systems grow beyond anything we expected: whether I’m meeting with buffalo ranchers from the Great Plains or with members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I hear about efforts to connect producers and consumers locally and interest in how USDA can help.
In meetings of the White House Rural Council, which has representatives from across the federal government, regional food systems have been a key part of discussions. Read more »