Fans at the Lucas Oil Stadium, pictured here, will be served three flavors of chili made from organic and locally grown ingredients. The USDA’s National Organic Program oversees the certification of USDA organic products. (Photo by Carl Van Rooy)
There’s a new menu item in town for the Super Bowl: white bean chili made with organic beans and vegetables. The push to bring organic and locally-grown options to the concession stand came from a partnership between non-profits that support family farms, celebrities and Centerplate, the NFL’s largest concession provider.
The USDA National Organic Program—within the Agricultural Marketing Service—oversees the certification of USDA organic products. We also certify third-party agents around the world to uphold the integrity of the organic label. Read more »
Earlier this week, I had the privilege of touring the southern part of Vermont with US Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan.
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Dr. Kathleen Merrigan with Alex Gyori, General Manager of Brattleboro Food Coop.
On Monday, we went from farm to farm along the Route 9 corridor and met with some of the incredibly courageous farm families who are putting their lives back together after Tropical Storm Irene. Loss of land, loss of crops and feed are just a few of the many challenges they are facing with amazing dignity. The purpose of the tour spearheaded by State Ag Secretary, Chuck Ross, was to make sure that those in need were aware of all of the programs USDA and the State had to offer. In addition, he wanted our Washington visitor to see the stunning resilience of Vermont’s farm families. A group that included Bob Paquin, FSA; Vicky Drew, NRCS; staff of Sen. Leahy and Sanders and Congressman Welch also shared their admiration for the strength of these individuals. Read more »
Donn Teske, farmer and President of the Kansas Farmers’ Union, is optimistic. He believes that small and mid-sized farms are making successful inroads to improve their market power and these efforts have great potential. Donn himself operates a fifth generation, 2,000 acre organic farm and ranch in northeastern Kansas, and, in spite of increasing difficulties, he has not been deterred from continuing to improve the marketing opportunities for mid-sized farmers.
One of these opportunities has come from the Kansas Organic Producers (KOP), a group of nearly sixty farmers that provides crucial marketing services for its members. Established in 1974 as an education association to help promote the production and marketing of organic products, the group restructured in 1992 to focus on marketing organic grain. One-third of Donn’s farm is dedicated to alfalfa hay, red clover, milo (grain sorghum), corn, soybeans and wheat. With nearly his entire crop production servicing the livestock industry, KOP is his primary marketing channel. His harvest alone would be far more difficult to market effectively, but the services of KOP give growers a shared clout. Read more »
As the head of USDA’s statistical agency, I know that comprehensive, accurate and timely statistical data are some of the most valuable tools in helping to “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.” The statistics collected and published by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) help tell the story of American agriculture – what’s being grown, where it’s being grown, who’s growing it, what the economic impact is, and how these things are changing and evolving over time.
Our oldest and largest data collection program is the Census of Agriculture. This comprehensive look at the farm sector is conducted every five years – most recently in 2007 – and it provides detailed information on U.S. farms and farmers all the way down to the county level. In addition, NASS tabulates key census data by various other geographical and political designations, including watersheds, congressional districts and American Indian reservations. Read more »
Back in 1947, nearly one-third of the labor force worked on farms. In those days if you didn’t have a relative who worked on a farm, you knew someone who did. As time and technology progressed and jobs moved from farms to factories, generations began to lose their connection to agriculture and the land as the source of their food. Currently, there is too much distance between consumers and those who produce their food.
But, there is also hope for those of us working to rebuild this critical connection. Last Friday I presented a $175,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) to provide critical access to credit to a group of small family farmers who are building a bridge to consumers and stimulating the local economy through local foods. This project is a great example of how USDA Rural Development programs can advance the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. Read more »
Where does your food come from and how does it get to your plate? For many Americans this is a question that is becoming more and more difficult to answer as they become further removed from the farm and less connected to agriculture. The hard work that goes into producing our nation’s food supply is being taken for granted.
We cannot let our children grow up thinking that food comes from a grocery store. That’s why I started the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative last year. As outlined in USDA’s new strategic plan, the initiative offers an innovative environment for us all to learn, share, and problem solve together. Washington doesn’t have all the answers, so I want to invite you to join us in a national conversation. Read more »