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Posts tagged: Minnesota

Thanksgiving – Brought to You by the American Farmer

An infographic exploring the traditional Thanksgiving meal, brought to you by the American Farmer. Click to see a larger version.

An infographic exploring the traditional Thanksgiving meal, brought to you by the American Farmer. Click to see a larger version.

Thanksgiving is a time when Americans come together to celebrate a holiday that connects each and every one of us. During this truly American holiday, we all give thanks for the previous year’s blessings and look ahead to the future. While we may bring our own traditions and flavors to the table, Thanksgiving is a time for all of us to celebrate our country’s rich history.

It has always been a special holiday to me, but this past year I developed an even greater appreciation for all that goes in to producing the Thanksgiving meal. As Administrator of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), I spent the last six months visiting with American farmers and learning about their businesses. In my conversations with American farmers and ranchers, I am always impressed by their work ethic, ingenuity, and dedication to making sure their customers get the best products. It’s no wonder that our nation’s farmers were responsible for producing nearly 7.5 trillion pounds of turkey in 2012—nearly half the world’s supply!—and are leaders when it comes to many other foods regularly featured in Thanksgiving meals.  In 2012, American farmers also produced 3.1 billion pounds of sweet corn and nearly 2.7 billion pounds of sweet potatoes.

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US Capitol Christmas Tree has Deep Roots Connecting Americans

Only a massive tree will complement the expanse of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The selected tree is usually between 60 feet and 80 feet tall and holds tens of thousands of lights. The ornaments are made by people – mostly children in many cases – who live in the state where the tree is harvested. (Courtesy Architect of the Capitol)

Only a massive tree will complement the expanse of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The selected tree is usually between 60 feet and 80 feet tall and holds tens of thousands of lights. The ornaments are made by people – mostly children in many cases – who live in the state where the tree is harvested. (Courtesy Architect of the Capitol)

As the 88-foot Engelmann spruce is paraded into Washington, D.C., today, Nov. 25, it brings with it an annual tradition that has been rooted in history and shared by millions of Americans for decades.

The 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree is a gift from the Colville National Forest and people living in Washington State. The Washington community raised the money and support needed to help harvest, transport and decorate the tree that will stand on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. They also helped with a collection of smaller trees for various offices in D.C.

The tree will be lit by Speaker of the House John Boehner during a ceremony at 5 p.m. Dec. 3. Read more »

Local Food Leaders Take a Break to Hang Out

What do Tristan Reader of Tohono O’odham Community Action (TOCA), Amy Bacigalupo of the Land Stewardship Project in Minnesota, Haile Johnston of Common Market in Philadelphia and Michael Todd’s environmental studies class at Ames High School in Ames, IA have in common? They’re all building connections between farms and consumers and creating strong local food systems in their communities.  And all joined me for a Google+ Hangout – a live, virtual panel – on Thursday, November 21 to discuss their work.

There is amazing energy surrounding the development of local food systems in communities nationwide, and our discussion certainly reflected that. But it also came at a time of uncertainty. Congress has yet to pass a Food, Farm and Jobs bill, the major piece of legislation funding USDA’s local food efforts (along with many other critical programs). Until a bill is passed, many of the key resources for producers, businesses and communities engaged in local food systems are without funding. That reality lent a sense of urgency to some of the topics we discussed. Read more »

Natural Resources Conservation Service Salutes Staff for Service to Country & Conservation

Iraqi children are excited to see Mike Clayton, the man who provided a source of clean drinking water to their community.

Iraqi children are excited to see Mike Clayton, the man who provided a source of clean drinking water to their community.

Earlier this month the United States observed Veteran’s Day.  USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) proudly supports veterans and celebrates their service to country and conservation.

“We’re honored that so many veterans have chosen to come work for NRCS,” Chief Jason Weller said. “Their dedication, commitment and discipline are invaluable assets to our conservation mission.”

Kevin Shuey, NRCS contract specialist in North Carolina, is an Air Force veteran. He spent his last four years in the service teaching leadership skills to other airmen. Read more »

How I Serve: The Importance of Public Service

Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden meets with USDA employees in Minnesota.

Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden meets with USDA employees in Minnesota.

Yesterday, I visited with USDA employees in Minnesota to tell them how much their work means to the Secretary, myself and the American people. USDA employees across the country and around the world do critical work that impacts millions of lives and I could not be prouder.

Folks often ask me why I work in the federal government and my answer always is: it’s how I serve. Public service is at the core of our nation’s principles. Our founding fathers performed a public service when they laid the foundation for the United States of America—as they sat down to write the Declaration of Independence and as they worked each day afterward to create and maintain a nation. Read more »

Nationwide Census on Farm to School Activities Shows Promising Results

USDA Census shows healthy habits are taking root across the country.

USDA Census shows healthy habits are taking root across the country.

When students have experiences such as tending a school garden or visiting a farm they’ll be more likely to make healthy choices in the cafeteria. And when schools invest their food dollars in their local communities, all of agriculture benefits, including local farmers, ranchers, fishermen, food processors and manufacturers.

Good news: these healthy habits are taking root all across the country.

USDA released today results from a nationwide Census of farm to school activities. We found that 43 percent of all public school districts have an existing farm to school program in place. Another 13 percent of school districts surveyed are committed to launching a farm to school program in the near future. With purchasing local food as a primary farm to school activity, in school year 2011-2012, schools purchased and served over $350 million in local food. Read more »