Skip to main content

October 2011

A Rainy Day Becomes Perfect Backdrop for A Visit to A New Jersey School’s Garden

How does one turn a cold, miserable rainy day in late October into one as bright and warm as a sunny day in June?  Just visit a local elementary school where students and teachers and community volunteers are all so excited about the bountiful garden out back behind the school.  A magical place where young minds learn about growing healthy foods, about earthworms and soil, about cover crops and harvesting, about composting and frost dates, and about how tasty that strange looking vegetable with the funny name is . . . the one they started to grow from seedlings last school year.

USDA Hosts Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business Event

USDA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization recently announced that in honor of Veteran’s Day, Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses will have an opportunity to meet and participate in networking sessions with USDA program and acquisition specialists on the Patio, Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building on November 8, 2011, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.   There will also be an opportunity to meet one-on-one with USDA contracting agency representatives to describe their agency’s program objectives, direction and acquisitions.

Annually, USDA purchases more than $5 billion dollars in goods and services essential to meeting the needs of our customers and the various missions of the agency.  Approximately 60 percent of these dollars are spent on food commodities.

U.S. Fresh Fruit a Hit with Chinese Consumers

For the past two years, our Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Shanghai, China has built a partnership with, an online produce company that has thrived by harnessing the impressive power of internet and TV retailing to reach Chinese consumers.

Baseball, Apple Pie… and USDA

“The Ryan Express” Delivers the Goods

Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan pitched 27 years in the big leagues, tossing a league record seven no-hitters.

In that span Ryan was comfortably pumping 100 mile-per-hour fastballs past hitters until he was 40 years old, registering 95 mph on the radar gun until retirement. Nicknamed “The Ryan Express” for his baseball exploits, he went on to become a successful business owner.

How to Make My Plate Your Plate

Last week the Let’s Move Faith and Communities team hosted partners from across the country for a conference call on USDA’s new nutrition education resources. It was a packed hour. This year USDA has published the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the new MyPlate food icon, and online resources including the comprehensive for easy access to nutrition education and programs. Curious about how the conversation went? Check out the links below.

FSDZ Kicks Off the Season by Visiting Lake Anne Elementary School in Virginia

The USDA’s Food Safety Discovery Zone (FSDZ) kicked off the 2011-2012 season on Thursday, October 13, 2011, by wheeling in to Lake Anne Elementary School in Reston, Va., and educating 280 students about food safety!

Throughout the day, the FSDZ staff gave students an exciting tour of the Food Safety Mobile and educated them about the four basic steps of preventing foodborne illness: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.

The students were especially fascinated by the “Germs that Glow in the Dark” station, because they were able to see how many germs were present on hands that weren’t properly washed under the ultraviolet light. “As you can see, it is really important to wash your hands properly!” Public Affairs Specialist Mary Harris told the group.

Secretary’s Column: Farm Bill Priorities

On Monday, I laid out my priorities for the upcoming Farm Bill.  This legislation addresses farming, but also deals with many important aspects of life in America.  It’s about supporting the jobs of the future, it’s about keeping pace with the changing needs of agriculture and rural America, and it’s about providing a safe and ample food supply for the nation.

But it must begin with our responsibility to strengthen agriculture, a bright spot in today’s economy.

As Congress writes the portion of the bill involving agriculture, the focus should be on three core principles that have shaped the success of the American farmer over generations: maintaining a strong safety net, supporting sustainable productivity and promoting vibrant markets.

President Obama’s Startup America Initiative Helps Agricultural Innovation Create Economic Opportunity

As Chief Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), it is my privilege to lead the talented researchers and scientists throughout the department. USDA scientists work to solve some of the world's biggest problems in preserving our health through nutrition, feeding a growing planet, and managing our precious land, water, and energy resources.  Every day, I am impressed by the innovation and accomplishments of our scientists.  It is innovation and dedication of this kind that fuels economic growth and the creation of new industries, businesses, jobs, products, and services.

One major driver of successful innovation is technology transfer—the private sector adoption of research outcomes—of federally-funded research from universities and federal laboratories to the marketplace.

Often, research performed by federal scientists or supported by the federal government is leveraged by the private sector to serve the broader public. It creates jobs, spurs economic growth and enhances global competitiveness of the U.S. agriculture sector.

An Explanation of Green Jobs Policies, Theory, Measurement Approaches, and Job Growth Expectations

A new white paper titled An Explanation of Green Jobs Policies, Theory, Measurement Approaches, and Job Growth Expectations was written by Iowa State University through a cooperative agreement with USDA’s Office of Energy Policy and New Uses.  The authors explore policy, theoretical foundations, and the approaches to measuring green jobs in the United States.  The paper contains brief descriptions of national and state initiatives to quantify green jobs, as well as their potential for growth.  The study finds there is little academic research that conceptualizes the green economy.  Regional research to assist state and local policy development is needed, along with evaluations investigating offsetting job losses.

There are currently twin public policy focuses regarding green jobs.  The first concerns imply value of the activity; namely, the ability to conserve energy and other natural resources as well as reduce pollution.  The second focus is the job producing value.  While most people agree that the environmentally beneficial goals of policy developments are essential, the job creation goals are foremost in most policymakers’ minds.

Let’s Move to Buy Groceries with SNAP

It can be a challenge to build a healthy plate of fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s why First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Faith and Communities initiative is helping community and faith-based organizations to ensure that all families have access to healthy, affordable food in the communities.