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labor day

Secretary's Column: Immigration Reform Also an Important Labor Issue

Each year on Labor Day, we take time to reflect on the productivity of America’s workers and our responsibility as a nation to support their efforts.

This year, as we gather to celebrate, Congress has a timely opportunity to create an even stronger American workforce for generations to come. They can do so by fixing America’s broken immigration system.

The broad impacts that immigration reform would have for our economy are well documented. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and Social Security Office of the Chief Actuary, the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill would boost our economy by 3.3 percent, reduce the deficit by a projected $850 billion and add nearly $300 billion to our Social Security system by the end of the decade.

Go Outside, Play This Labor Day Weekend

What better way to spend a three-day weekend than outside with friends and family? America’s national forests and grasslands offer a wide variety of recreation opportunities ranging from backcountry camping far from civilization to developed picnic areas with all the facilities you need for the perfect end-of-summer barbecue with family and friends.

Of course, there are still fires burning in some areas of the country so check the status of your destination before heading out. Safety is key.

Here are a few ideas to help you plan your weekend:

Celebrate Labor Day with a MyPlate Picnic

A picnic is an easy and relaxing holiday activity. USDA's MyPlate resources can help take the “labor” out of your Labor Day picnic. You can enjoy an easy, healthy meal by following this simple MyPlate formula: 5 food groups + family and friends = fun! When planning your picnic, be sure to include more healthful choices of menu items from each food group (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy) and water or 100% juice to drink.

Celebrate the end of summer by enjoying seasonal fruits. You can make an easy (and portable) fruit salad by dicing up fresh fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, plums, kiwi, and strawberries. If you choose to include apples, bananas, or pears, just add a splash of citrus (like orange juice) to prevent browning. And if you’re feeling more adventurous, try this refreshing MyPlate watermelon gazpacho recipe. You can bring it in a lidded container, or divide into jars for individual portions.

Secretary's Column: Saying "Thank You" To Farmers and Workers on Labor Day

As Americans celebrate Labor Day this weekend, I know the holiday is overshadowed by a drought that has been extremely challenging for thousands of farm and ranch families.

President Obama and I will continue to do all we can to help drought-stricken producers. In a nation where one of every 12 jobs is supported by agriculture, we know that it’s critical to help farmers, ranchers and producers mitigate the effects of drought and continue to strengthen the agriculture sector.

Meanwhile we will continue to call on Congress to pass a comprehensive, multi-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill – to give USDA tools to help drought stricken producers, and to give more certainty to farmers and ranchers.

But even in a challenging time, American agriculture has stayed strong and resilient. That’s why, as we gather with family and friends to mark Labor Day, it couldn’t be a more appropriate time to say “Thank You” to the folks who provide the most affordable, the most abundant, and the safest food supply on earth.