May marks Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. America is home to more than 20.6 million people whose ancestors came to our country from Asia and the Pacific.
Many serve at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. I am the daughter of a Japanese immigrant that arrived in the United States in the 1950s. Within our own USDA agency, we have several employees of Chinese, Korean, and Pacific Islander heritage.
“This month magnifies the amazing cultures of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities and historical contributions we have made to society,” says Guadalupe (Lupe) Calceta, Risk Management Specialist with USDA’s Risk Management Agency.
Lupe is of Filipino heritage and her family moved to Guam when she was three years old. Today she works for USDA in Davis, California.
“The biggest difference between life growing up in Guam compared to the mainland is the much slower pace - life is simpler surrounded by beautiful beaches,” she says with a smile.
Lupe joined USDA in 2020. She says the Department’s commitment to keeping farmers and ranchers in business through tough times and helping underserved producers drew her interest.
“This year, I am excited to be a part of two teams that will conduct outreach to Guam and the Virgin Islands,” she mentions excitedly. “It gives me such a great sense of accomplishment and pride in providing this service to my island.”
Lupe’s team will gather data and survey each island’s potential crop insurance needs. Another goal is to provide the local growers general knowledge of USDA services.
“During and after World War II, local farmers suffered a loss of agricultural land,” Lupe explains. “However, through USDA funding and other resources, in 2018 Guam had 264 farms, up 154-percent from 104 farms in 2007.”
USDA continually strives to expand the reach of Federal crop insurance so that farmers and ranchers across America can benefit from the best farm safety net in the world.
“Outreach work is important because it increases the public’s awareness of USDA’s programs and services,” Lupe says. “Outreach will ensure that these programs and services are equitable and made available to all.”
I am grateful for the hard work of employees like Lupe. Please take a moment this month to reflect on the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to our nation and the work ahead as we continue to ensure our programs reach all Americans.