Skip to main content

USDA Then and Now: Part IV

Posted by Rebecca Frank, USDA Office of Communications in Conservation Initiatives Food and Nutrition Research and Science Technology
Feb 27, 2014

Thanks for tuning in this month to our installments of USDA Then and Now photo series on the amazing innovations that have helped rural America grow and respond to a constantly evolving agricultural landscape. Here you can see Part I, Part II, and Part III.

In our fourth and final Then and Now, we look to some of our long-standing historical programs and missions then, versus how they look today in 2014.

Please keep your stories coming using #AgInnovates!

School Lunch
The national school lunch program, established by President Harry Truman in 1946, and the school breakfast program have been longstanding and crucial programs to ensure our nation’s kids have access to healthy meals each school day.

Thanks to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, for the first time in over 30 years USDA has made real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs, making significant improvements to the nutritional content of breakfasts and lunches served in schools and ensuring a healthier future for America's next generation.


Agricultural Census
The first Census of Agriculture was conducted in 1840 and for more than 165 years, farmers and ranchers responded by methods including mail, telephone and in-person interviews. Beginning with the 2007 Census of Agriculture, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) offered the convenient option of filling out the form online. NASS saw online response triple with the most recent Census, conducted for 2012. Donald Buysse, NASS census section head, demonstrates how the new online responding application was faster and more user-friendly and enabled farmers to complete the Census of Agriculture conveniently and efficiently. From data collection to data release, the Census of Agriculture is helping to information smart policymaking and making life easier for farmers and ranchers, learn more today.


The Washington, DC Cherry Blossom festival is just around the corner -- a yearly tradition celebrating a gift from the mayor of Tokyo in 1909. But you may not know that DC’s cherry trees would not be here today without help from the USDA. In 1975, an agency within the USDA was created, APHIS, and charged with continuing to protect and promote U.S. agricultural health.

USDA’s core mission remains the same today as it did in 1909, but many of the challenges have evolved. Most recently, in response to a growing and devastating problem for the citrus industry, Huanglongbing or HLB, USDA and APHIS acted swiftly to address growers’ concerns by launching a modern, multi-agency response including  research funding and streamlined services to ensure maximum impact: