Skip to main content


Forest Service International Programs lauded by Secretary of State

During the recent annual Comprehensive Partnership meeting in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Indonesian Foreign Minister Natalegawa applauded recent initiatives supported by the U.S. Forest Service’s International Programs, including forest governance, environmental impact assessment, climate change mitigation, and the sustainable management of forests.

International Programs draws on the expertise of the entire agency to promote sustainable forest management overseas and to bring important technologies and innovations back to the U.S.  Through International Programs, the Forest Service advocates for U.S. interests abroad by engaging with numerous governmental and non-governmental partners to share best practices on a range of conservation issues.

The U.S. Comprehensive Partnership is a long-term commitment between the United States and Indonesia to broaden, deepen and elevate bilateral relations. Officials from both countries consult regularly on issues such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, climate change and the spread of communicable diseases.

U.S. Food Shopping Out of Sync with Nutritional Advice

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Many of our diets aren’t what they should be. Americans eat fewer fruits and vegetables than Federal nutrition guidance recommends, and we over-consume fats, added sugars, and refined grains. Health professionals warn us that the less-healthful food choices are showing up on our waistlines and in our health, contributing to increasing cases of overweight and obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Knowing how far we stray from good dietary patterns, and whether the diets of certain segments of the population are more misaligned, can help in designing more effective programs and consumer education.

Don’t Forget Your Winter “Vegetables”

December is National Tomato and Winter Squash Month, a time to celebrate two very versatile “vegetables” that contain a wealth of flavors and nutrients.

You may find this hard to believe, but at one point tomatoes (once called "love apples") were considered poisonous and grown solely for their ornamental value.  Today tomatoes are the most popular garden vegetable in America. While technically a fruit, they are considered a vegetable for culinary purposes and used in many dishes from countries and cultures around the world.

School Gardens on Wheels

USDA partnered with The Washington Capitals to bring a People’s Garden to Powell Elementary School in Washington, DC almost 2 years ago. The process began with a garden design session so parents, teachers and students from every grade could put their ideas on paper. Hundreds of ideas were collected – from dinosaurs to avocado trees – for USDA landscape architects to sort through. The People’s Garden team and the Caps returned about a month later to reveal a concept plan that included a habitat garden and food garden. With the help of hundreds of volunteers from USDA’s People’s Garden, The Washington Capitals and the local community, both of these gardens have been brought to life.

The Habitat Garden was built first in the only area of the playground not covered in asphalt. The ground was very compact making the project a challenge for anyone trying to do this, but more so, on a very hot summer day. We got it done and the students now have an outdoor classroom to stomp through and explore. (This video shows a time-lapse of the amazing transformation.)

Creative Financing Roundtable Hosted by Vermont USDA Staff

Last week, Molly Lambert, State Director of the Vermont Rural Development State Office, (RD) joined me in hosting the state’s first “Intermediary Relending Program and Creative Financing Roundtable.”  Meeting participants, including leaders from Vermont’s economic and community development centers, met at the Vermont Economic Development Authority office located in Montpelier, Vermont.

The purpose of the meeting was to explore ways to promote the distribution of more than $5 million in funds to Vermont’s rural small business entrepreneurs using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Intermediary Relending Program (IRP).  These enthusiastic participants, who have keen insight into the state’s industries and barriers to capital, learned that working collaboratively will benefit all Vermont communities.

During the opening part of the meeting, staff from the Vermont USDA State Office gave the state’s Intermediary Relending providers updates on the administration of IRP loans.  The session then moved to a discussion of trends, observations, and economic opportunities for the small businesses in their respective areas.

North Carolina Faith Communities Eat Smart and Move More


Let’s Move Faith and Communities challenges congregations and communities to make health a priority through wellness leadership implemented in three steps: lead, organize, and take action. Fifty North Carolina faith communities are doing just that through their partnership with Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More.

President’s Council of Advisors Releases First Study on the Value of Agricultural Research, Declares U.S. ‘Undisputed World Leader’

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) today presented a report on the importance of USDA’s leadership in agricultural research. The Council is a diverse group of individuals appointed by the President from across the basic and applied scientific community to advise the President and the Executive Office of the President on key scientific issues.

Report to the President on Agricultural Preparedness & the Agriculture Research Enterprise, by the Council, concludes that the United States is the undisputed world leader in agricultural production today, but also cautions that U.S. agriculture also faces a number of challenges that are poised to become much more serious in the years ahead.

There is no question that the report recognizes American agriculture and USDA’s leadership in agricultural science and research as critical to the efforts to ensure greater food security and a better future for everyone.

Secretary's Column: Ensuring a Safe Food Supply for Americans

Often during the holiday season, we take time to reconnect with family and friends over a meal. We're able to do so because hardworking folks in rural America deliver the most abundant and affordable food supply on earth.

It's also the safest food supply - an achievement made possible by a wide range of skilled, dedicated people.

It all starts with our growers and processors, who are always asking how they can produce a safer product. They have the support of USDA staff at more than 6,000 plants around the country and at U.S. ports of entry. These experts inspect a wide range of food products before they're sent to the grocery store.

South Dakota Local Foods Conference Supports South Dakota Producers and Resource Providers

The second annual South Dakota Local Foods Conference was held recently to continue the dialogue on local foods among producers, consumers, farmer’s markets, retailers, schools and others.  The conference provided attendees from across the state two days of breakout sessions, networking, and instruction.

USDA Rural Development State Director, Elsie Meeks attended the conference, taking the opportunity to award South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension a Rural Business Opportunity Grant of $50,000.  The Rural Development funds will be used to build capacity in South Dakota’s local food system through the establishment of an online Local Foods Center which will create structured connections between local growers and resource providers.