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March 2010

Deputy Secretary Merrigan Visits Yale and Announces Funding for Connecticut’s “Last Green Valley”

Late last week Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan attended the Working Lands Alliance’s Tenth Anniversary Conference at Yale University.

While there, the Deputy Secretary announced that a total of $207,000 in funds from the Rural Business Enterprise Grant program (RBEG) will be provided to several organizations around Connecticut to improve economic opportunities in the area.

USDA Forest Service Honored First African-American Smokejumpers

The last three living original members of the nation’s first African-American smokejumpers crew have been honored at USDA Forest Service Headquarters. The “Triple Nickles” were from the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion and were trained by the Forest Service to put out forest fires in the Northwest during the summer of 1945. Combat-ready, the “Triple Nickles” served a unique, secret assignment called “Operation Firefly.”

President Obama Visits Afghanistan, Meets USDA Staff

March 29, 2010 – On Monday in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Bagram Air Base to visit with U.S. civilian and military men and women supporting the U.S. government’s efforts in that country. Among those in attendance were staff members from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, including employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture working as part of the U.S. government team.

Deputy Secretary Merrigan Joins Rep. Holt and NJ Farmers on Capitol Hill

Today Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan joined New Jersey Congressman Rush Holt and dozens of farmers from across central New Jersey as part of the Congressman’s Agriculture and Nutrition Policy Day.  The Deputy Secretary spoke to a diverse group of farmers about USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative and the Department’s newest efforts to promote farm to school programs across the country.  After an informative presentation from the OneTray foundation, Congressman Holt kicked off the day’s activities with an enthusiastic welcome, acknowledging the real stars of the show, the men and women in the audience who work the land every day.

At Food Safety Conference, Safe School Lunches Named a Top Priority

USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Janey Thornton spoke to conference attendees at the Food Safety Education Conference in Atlanta. She described the Department’s mission to serve safe and nutritious school meals and snacks to the more than 11 million children who eat school breakfast every day and over 31 million eat school lunch.

“The fact that so many lives are touched by our programs is a constant reminder that we must continue to emphasize food safety,” said Thornton.