Posts By USDA
USDA Awards $34.3 Million to Support Communities’ Local Foods Infrastructure, Increase Access to Fruits and VegetablesOctober 7, 2015 | USDA
WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack helped to kick off the nation’s harvest season by announcing nearly $35 million in new funding through four grant programs to support local and regional food systems, including farmers markets. Secretary Vilsack has named strengthening local food systems as one of the four pillars of USDA’s efforts to revitalize rural economies and communities. Purchases of locally-produced food have surged to nearly $12 billion under Secretary Vilsack’s leadership while the number of farmers markets has exploded to more than 8,500 from 5,274 in 2009.
From the classroom to the farm to the boardroom, women in agriculture are helping to pave the way for a better future. As leaders, it is our responsibility to make sure the next generation of women are educated, encouraged and empowered to take on the challenges of meeting the world’s growing food, fuel and fiber needs. To celebrate and honor the contributions of women in agriculture, USDA is releasing a series of state-by-state infographics detailing the impact women have on agriculture in each state and across the country. Be sure to share these infographics on social media or print them to help tell the story of women in ag in your state!
Over the past few months, we’ve also been featuring the powerful stories of women in agriculture on the USDA blog. By following the #womeninag tag on the USDA blog, you can read first-person accounts from women like Carissa Koopmann Rivers, a fifth generation cow/calf rancher from Sunol, California, Casey Cox, the Executive Director of the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District, and Dr. Jewel Hairston, the Dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University.
Food Retailers, Agriculture Industry, and Charitable Organizations Support First National Goal to Reduce Food Waste by 50 Percent by 2030September 22, 2015 | USDA
NEW YORK, Sept. 16, 2015 — Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy announced the United States’ first-ever national food waste reduction goal, calling for a 50-percent reduction by 2030. As part of the effort, the federal government will lead a new partnership with charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, the private sector and local, state and tribal governments to reduce food loss and waste in order to improve overall food security and conserve our nation’s natural resources. The announcement occurs just one week before world leaders gather at the United Nations General Assembly in New York to address sustainable development practices, including sustainable production and consumption.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2015 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the release of a new report that shows that USDA’s Farm to School Grant Program, established and funded through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, has helped 12,300 schools improve nutritious meal options made with local ingredients for 6.9 million students, while expanding market opportunities for family farmers and ranchers in their communities. Recent studies published in Childhood Obesity and Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior indicate that strong farm to school programs can impact consumption of fruits and vegetables, leading to reductions in plate waste.
“This year, we are experiencing yet another devastating wildfire season, particularly in the drought-ravaged West. Climate change, drought, fuel buildup, insects and disease are increasing the severity of unprecedented wildfire in America’s forests and rangelands, which impacts the safety of people, homes and communities. Development close to forests has also increased the threat to property, with more than 46 million homes in the United States, or about 40 percent of our nation’s housing, potentially at risk from wildfire. USDA works closely with the Department of Interior and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, along with other partners, to deploy the workforce, equipment, and interagency coordination necessary to respond safely and effectively to increasingly severe wildfire seasons. We are expending in excess of $150 million per week on fire suppression activities, and that will likely grow in the days and weeks ahead. Well over 26,000 firefighters and support personnel from federal, state and local agencies are deployed, along with 28 next generation and legacy air tankers, and additional aviation assets. We are now working with the U.S. Military and foreign partners, such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, to bring in additional resources.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2014 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will improve farm loans by expanding eligibility and increasing lending limits to help more beginning and family farmers. As part of this effort, USDA is raising the borrowing limit for the microloan program from $35,000 to $50,000; simplify the lending processes; updating required “farming experience” to include other valuable experiences; and expanding eligible business entities to reflect changes in the way family farms are owned and operated. The changes become effective Nov. 7.
“USDA is continuing its commitment to new and existing family farmers and ranchers by expanding access to credit,” said Harden. “These new flexibilities, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, will help more people who are considering farming and ranching, or who want to strengthen their existing family operation.”
This October, just like every other month during the school year, school menus will feature an array of products from local and regional farmers, ranchers, and fishermen. Kids of all ages will dig up lessons in school gardens, visit farms, harvest pumpkins, and don hair nets for tours of processing facilities. Science teachers – and English, math, and social studies instructors, too – will use food and agriculture as a tool in their classrooms, so that lessons about the importance of healthy eating permeate the school learning environment.
An investment in the health of America’s students through Farm to School is also an investment in the farmers and ranchers who grow the food and an investment in the health of local economies. In school year 2011-2012, schools purchased $386 million in local food from farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food processors and manufacturers. And an impressive 56 percent of school districts report that they will buy even more local foods in future school years. Farm to school programs exist in every state in the country.
News Release – DOSWELL, Va., Sept. 29, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the award of over $52 million in support of the growing organic industry and local and regional food systems through five U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant programs. The Secretary made the announcement during an event with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and local farmers at the Virginia State Fair.
“Local and regional food systems are one of the pillars of our efforts to revitalize rural economies,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Consumers are increasingly demanding more local and organic options. Investing in local and regional food systems supports the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers, especially smaller operations, while strengthening economies in communities across the country. Today’s announcements also improve access to fresh, healthy food for millions of Americans.”