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Posts tagged: Land Grant universities

The Faces of Agriculture – A Glimpse of What the Farm Bill Means to Our Nation

Under Secretary Edward Avalos and John Lyman III, owner of Lyman Orchards, tour the orchard’s Apple Barrel Market in Middlefield, CT.  A Farm Bill is crucial to the long-term stability of family-owned farms and orchards.

Under Secretary Edward Avalos and John Lyman III, owner of Lyman Orchards, tour the orchard’s Apple Barrel Market in Middlefield, CT. A Farm Bill is crucial to the long-term stability of family-owned farms and orchards.

A life of farming—whether you grow up in it or are called to it later in life—takes a special kind of commitment and sense of responsibility. The reward is just as unique and appeals only to a handful of people who are willing to literally roll up their sleeves and work hard at a physically- and mentally-challenging job every day of the year. To me, there’s just something special about a profession where the fruits of your labor provide one of life’s most essential elements–food.

But that’s not where their contributions stop. Our nation’s farmers and ranchers strengthen our economy, with nearly one out of 12 jobs in the U.S. coming from agriculture.

Over the last year, I had the opportunity to visit and speak to farmers and ranchers across the country. During these visits, I get a chance to see first-hand how connected they are to their communities and the differences they make for the folks that live and work with them. And I also get to answer their questions directly, to hear the challenges they face and the help they could use. Inevitably, conversation turns to the Food, Farm, and Jobs Bill and what that legislation would mean to each of the farmers, ranchers, businesses and schools that depend on it. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Supporting Innovation for Stronger Rural Communities

American innovation is one of our most special traditions, fueling our nation to new heights over the course of our history. Innovation is critically important in rural America, where research is helping to grow American agriculture, create new homegrown products, generate advanced renewable energy and more.

Continued research has the capacity to lead the way to economic opportunity and new job creation in rural areas – and USDA has been hard at work to carry out these efforts.  But we need Congress to get its work done and provide a new Farm Bill that recommits our nation to innovation in the years to come. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Following Through to Keep Our Youth Safe on the Farm

It’s no secret that agricultural work is tough work – and as America’s farm families know, it can be dangerous.  Last year, agriculture recorded the highest fatal injury rate of any industry, with the rate of on-the-job fatality in agriculture nearly seven times the rate for all U.S. workers.

Adding complexity to this challenge is the unique role that youth play on the farm and ranch.  Many farms and ranches are a family business. This important tradition strengthens American agriculture and instills important life skills for our young people.

Unfortunately, this means that young people also share in the hazards of farm work.  On average, more than 100 youth die each year in farm-related accidents.  Thousands more are injured on the farm or ranch. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Creating Modern Solutions to Environmental Challenges

Our farmers and ranchers are the most productive on earth, largely due to their innovation and their ability to adapt to new challenges. As new threats emerge for American agriculture, USDA will be there to provide assistance – and this week, we announced new steps to help producers create solutions to meet modern environmental threats.

We’re already seeing these new challenges emerge. Last year was the second most intense year in our history for extreme weather events. It was also the warmest on record for the continental United States. Read more »

Science Today for Solutions Tomorrow

As USDA’s Chief Scientist I oversee a team of world class scientists, economists, statisticians, and support staff working to solve some of the biggest challenges facing us all – a changing climate, uncertain energy sources, rising childhood obesity rates, food insecurity around the globe – and making sure our solutions are safe and sustainable.

In 2010, one of my first initiatives as Chief Scientist was to ask this group of food, agricultural, and natural resource science professionals to develop an Action Plan for USDA Science.  The Action Plan provides an in depth analysis of these challenges and identifies the roles of USDA’s science agencies in addressing them. Read more »

Officials Represent USDA at Future of Food Conference

Tomorrow, Secretary Vilsack and I will participate in the Future of Food, Food Security for the 21st Century conference, which is sponsored by The Washington Post. I am pleased to see the topic of food security getting such attention, as I believe it’s one of the biggest challenges we face now and in the next 50 years. As director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), I believe NIFA has a crucial role to play in addressing these challenges.

We are facing a “9 billion challenge,” in that the global population is projected to hit 9 billion by the year 2050. This challenge presents what I call wicked problems that require us to find ways to feed, clothe, shelter all people, and meet their energy needs, without wreaking havoc on the environment. Read more »