Confidential Assistant to the AMS Administrator Karen Comfort tours the AMS Cotton and Tobacco Programs Headquarters. Comfort learns how cotton samples are graded using the new Cotton Acquisition and Tracking System (CATS). This system improves the efficiency of cotton sampling process by automating much of the sample delivery process.
As the saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.” This certainly holds true when it comes to the critical partnership between public and private sectors. Several times a year the Commodity Roundtable brings together leaders from many of USDA’s national research and promotion programs and marketing orders, which play a vital role in helping our nation maintain one of the strongest agricultural sectors in the world.
At the most recent Commodity Roundtable meeting in Memphis, TN, I was impressed by the open dialog and the leaders’ deep commitment to supporting America’s farmers and ranchers. Members discussed best practices and strategic plans that will help their respective industries succeed and grow, thanks in part to a commitment to diverse leadership, viewpoints and opinions. Read more »
The 88-foot Engelmann spruce selected as the 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree is hoisted onto a flatbed truck, where it will be secured for the 5,000-mile journey across the country. (U.S. Forest Service photo)
More than 300 people gathered on in 25-degree weather to witness the harvesting of the 88-foot 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree from the Colville National Forest, the first step in its 5,000 mile journey from Washington State to the U. S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
More than a dozen spotters and equipment operators manipulated the tree into position as the Mack Truck pushed the trailer underneath. The enormity of the Engelmann spruce became apparent as the tree floated above the trailer while a few extra feet from the trunk had to be removed.
Every December, the Speaker of the House hosts a lighting ceremony on the U.S. Capitol grounds. With a simple flip of a switch roughly 10,000 lights bring the tree to life. But first it has to make the journey. Read more »
If you are a regular USDA blog reader, you’ve heard about the new Farm to School Census, which shows the national farm to school footprint down to the school district level. With farm to school purchases topping $350 million across the country and over 38,000 schools nationwide participating in farm to school activities, local food is making marks in schools.
But who produces all that local food? How does the food make it from the farm to the lunch tray? How are farmers and ranchers getting the support they need to take advantage of this, and other, blossoming local food market opportunities? What role does the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and our federal partners play in the local food system? Read more »
Veterans returning home from overseas tours-of-duty face many challenges as they readjust to civilian life, and one of the most daunting ones is finding employment. Last year, a new program — the Soldiers to Civilians (S2C) Project — was started in rural west Tennessee to give local veterans the training and skills they need to enter into the field of precision agriculture. Thanks to grant assistance from the Department of Agriculture (USDA), project leaders will now be able to expand the S2C program beyond west Tennessee to help even more veterans living in the rural delta areas of east Arkansas and west Mississippi.
The expansion was funded, in part, through USDA’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program, which promotes development of small and emerging businesses in rural areas. Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Lillian Salerno announced the award during a visit to the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, a bioscience-oriented nonprofit organization that is a partner on the S2C project. Memphis Bioworks is one of more than 130 projects in 30 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico that are receiving RBEG funds. Read more »
Ensuring disadvantaged children have enough to eat during the summer is a top priority for USDA. Historically Black Colleges and Universities can play a critical role in helping us achieve this goal.
Although about 21 million children nationwide receive free and reduced-priced meals through our National School Lunch Program, only about 3.5 million meals are served through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) on a typical day. Closing this gap and ensuring that disadvantaged children do not go hungry during the summer months is a goal that USDA can only achieve through work with our partners.
One of the ways we’re strengthening partnerships is through our StrikeForce Initiative which helps us target state partners to work with across the country including universities and colleges. A great example of this initiative at work is the Alabama Department of Education teaming up with Tuskegee University, a Historically Black University in Alabama, which now sponsors four community-based summer feeding sites in Macon County where disadvantaged kids can get a free and nutritious summer meal. Read more »
Memphis is emerging as a metro region where rural and urban economic opportunities suggest the need for meaningful collaborative activities. Recently, USDA staff participated in a gathering of community development workshop in Memphis where rural leaders gathered to share challenges and successes with urban counterparts. The event was sponsored by the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), the Delta Regional Authority, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities.
Beginning in 2010, HUD began providing three-year Regional Planning grants to groups that were interested in developing long-range community plans that would help guide future federal investments in a more strategic manner. A number of those grants have been provided to communities in the Mississippi Delta region, and last week’s meeting gave the Delta Region grantees a chance to share successes and challenges of their efforts. Read more »