As we look ahead to the coming years, I know that rural America has unlimited capacity to continue providing a great deal for every American – including even more opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.
We know that many Americans deeply value outdoor recreation. According to industry estimates more than 140 million Americans participate in some outdoor recreation activity annually. In fact, more than 38 percent of American adults participate in hunting and fishing alone.
These opportunities are important for those living in our cities, and for their families. Outdoor recreation helps us all to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors – from parks, to trails, to lakes and forests. Meanwhile, getting outdoors allows us to instill a love and appreciation of the environment for our youngsters. Read more »
In a 1957 sermon, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., challenged the congregation, asking: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ’What are you doing for others?’ ”
Throughout his lifetime, Dr. King was passionately committed to community and service. On January 21st, USDA Rural Development is proud to join with Americans from all walks of life to honor Dr. King’s legacy through a National Day of Service. The Day of Service — a “day on, not a day off” — is part of United We Serve, President Obama’s national call to service initiative.
At USDA Rural Development, “doing for others” is one of our core rural values, and we encourage everyone in our organization to practice Dr. King’s principals of community, volunteerism and service not just on the Day of Service but throughout the year. In Tennessee, the “Volunteer State,” USDA Rural Development employees in the State Office in Nashville helped the hungry over the past year by donating more than 3,800 pounds of food through the USDA Feds Feed Families food drive to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. State Office employees also helped the food bank, which provides food to about 600,000 people across 46 counties each year, to sort food items for easier distribution. Read more »
Planning to be in town for the 2013 Presidential Inauguration? USDA will open its doors on the National Mall for a USDA open house on Friday, January 18 from 10am – 2pm. The open house is a special opportunity to learn more about USDA’s important role in the lives of every American – helping to provide an abundant and safe food supply, natural resource conservation, groundbreaking research, clean energy, and much more. Read more »
California Conservation Corps workers perform hazardous fuels thinning and are also building stream crossings, drainage structures and other trail stabilizing features to protect trails. The work also corrects existing and potential resource damage from erosion and sedimentation on existing trails.
The Obama Administration has announced the formation of a national council to guide full implementation of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps – a national collaborative effort to put America’s youth to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America’s great outdoors.
Thousands of temporary seasonal jobs with the Forest Service and its partners are available this summer and officials say now is the time to begin the application process.
Annually, the Forest Service and its conservation partners hire over 3,000 people for summer positions that involve work such as reducing the impacts of climate change on the nation’s natural resources, empowering Native American communities, building trails, enhancing wildlife habitat, and improving and restoring cultural and historic landmarks. Read more »
The past four years have been tremendously positive for America’s efforts to export more agricultural goods and products around the world.
The brand of American agriculture is soaring worldwide. In fact, 2009 to 2012 represents the best four years in our nation’s history for agricultural exports. Exports have grown more than 50% over that period of time.
We have reason to believe that more good news is ahead. Recently, USDA economists forecast agricultural product exports for next year to exceed $145 billion. That would set yet another new record – and it would allow agricultural exports to continue supporting more than a million jobs. Read more »
It’s been two years since President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 into law. The Act cleared the way for historic improvements to the child nutrition programs, such as school lunch and school breakfast, that serve millions of our nation’s children. We’ve already implemented many provisions of the Act, with many schools reporting success in meeting the new standards, and students finding the new school meals to be an improvement from the status quo. This coming year will be a busy one as we continue to make program updates that help us fight both child hunger and obesity.
Because of the Act, we’ve been able to improve standards for the content of school lunches—and soon school breakfasts— making them healthier than ever before. However, I know implementation is a process that takes time, and as the school year progresses we will continue listening and providing additional education, technical assistance, and flexibilities where appropriate. Throughout this first year, we are closely monitoring implementation and adapting the support we provide to States and schools based on challenges that arise.
We also made the first real reimbursement rate increase for those meals in 30 years to help schools adjust to the changes. Because we know how influential the school environment can be when it comes to encouraging kids to make healthy choices, USDA will propose new standards for other foods sold in schools including in vending machines. Read more »