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 »
Laura Kenefic is a research forester with the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, where she studies issues related to sustainable forest management. (Courtesy Liam Kenefic)
Northern Research Station scientist Laura Kenefic resists the temptation to stick with people she knows at scientific gatherings, and her discipline is paying dividends for northern white-cedar.
Attending a forestry conference a decade ago, Kenefic joined a table of strangers that included Jean-Claude Ruel, a Canadian scientist who, it turned out, was looking for long-term data on northern white-cedar. A research forester at the Penobscot Experimental Forest north of Bangor, Maine, Kenefic happens to work at one of the few places in the country with more than half a century of data on the species. Their collaboration quickly grew to include scientists from universities, industry, the U.S. Forest Service and the Canadian Forest Service who are all interested in northern white-cedar. Meetings, dinners and a few adventures in the course of research aimed at addressing the tree’s slow growth and sparse regeneration gave the group of scientists an atmosphere that felt unique to its members. “It seemed more like a club than a scientific working group,” Kenefic said. “We became the Cedar Club.” Read more »
U.S. Forest Service crewmember Bill Scripp finishes the job of sawing downed trees at Forest Park in Queens, NY on Nov. 4, 2012 to make passage safe for residents. The park is a major walking thoroughfare, including popular recreational trails. Bill Scripp belongs to the Wayne National Forest, in Ohio Valley, OH. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.
All this week, Americans are pausing to reflect on the devastation caused when Hurricane Sandy slammed ashore on the eastern seaboard. Over 160 people died, property was damaged, lives were disrupted, families were torn apart and jobs were affected.
USDA helped the recovery effort in a number of ways, and while we are proud of our work, we also learned from the experience in order to assist those affected by future catastrophes.
Our first task was helping those who were facing hunger. Following a disaster, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) provides nutrition assistance to disaster survivors through disaster USDA Foods Distribution Programs and by authorizing the implementation of the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D SNAP). In addition, FNS approves waivers that simplify the SNAP benefit replacement process to aid ongoing SNAP households affected by a disaster. Read more »
In July, 19 students from Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island participated in the week-long “Discover the Forest” camp, the first forestry camp for high school students at the University of Maine.
When you invite high school students into the woods, you set the stage for wonder, excitement and endless questions.
Organizers for “Discover the Forest,” a new venture sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and the University of Maine, also hope that, in addition to learning about the forest, participants will discover career opportunities and set the stage for a more diverse and inclusive workforce in the future. Read more »
NRCS District Conservationist Rita Thibodeau (left) points out minnows swimming in a pond that was part of Peter Talmage’s wetland restoration project. (Photo by Jonathan Tokarz, NRCS intern)
When Peter Talmage’s career as a professor of renewable energy and energy efficiency brought him from Maine to a college in Greenfield, Mass. with his wife and son, he knew that he wanted to enhance the beauty of the land that they bought in nearby Northfield and improve it as wildlife habitat.
So when his wife, Chris, heard about a USDA program that would guarantee its protection and provide help in restoring wetlands on the property, they were sold.
Through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wetlands Reserve Program, Peter and Chris protected 3 ½ of 12 acres under a permanent conservation easement. They received technical and financial help reshaping wetlands that had long ago been converted to farmland. Read more »
Carol Deeney (left), Stonewall Kitchen’s international marketing director, and Stephanie Miller, Stonewall’s social media and marketing coordinator, man a booth at the 2012 Gulfood Trade Show. The Foreign Agricultural Service’s Market Access Program helps the specialty foods company participate in trade shows, which helps increase its international exposure and exports. (Courtesy Photo)
When the astronauts aboard the International Space Station received a shipment of food recently, it included jam from a company called Stonewall Kitchen. Jonathan King and Jim Stott started selling their homemade jams from a folding table at a local farmers’ market in Maine in 1991. Today, their company sells specialty food products that are enjoyed all over the world, literally.
Stonewall Kitchen participates in the Food Export USA – Northeast Branded Program, which is funded by the Foreign Agricultural Service’s Market Access Program. MAP helps U.S. producers, exporters and trade organizations finance promotional activities for U.S. agricultural products. Over the years, the financial assistance from the program has helped this small business successfully export its jams, condiments, sauces and baking mixes to more than 40 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Central America and Southeast Asia. Read more »