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michael scuse

USDA Helps Eastern North Carolina Recover after Matthew

When Hurricane Matthew hit last month, disaster struck as high flood waters devastated communities up and down the East Coast. Agricultural producers in Eastern North Carolina were hit especially hard and suffered devastating losses to crops, livestock, and property.

Secretary Vilsack recently designated 39 counties in North Carolina as primary natural disaster areas, in addition to 15 contiguous counties. This week, I traveled to the state to visit some of the communities that were affected. I saw a peanut farm littered with uprooted plants and cracked shells. I met with an organic tobacco producer whose top soil had completely washed away. I visited a sweet potato and soybean farm that suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses. We drove by washed out roads and gutted homes with waterlogged furniture piled high on the side of the road.

USDA Wallace-Carver Fellowship Grows the Next Generation of Agricultural Leaders

Over the course of the Administration, recruiting the next generation of agricultural leaders has been a key priority for USDA. Last week, I had the opportunity to meet some impressive young people who will lead this field in the 21st century.

In partnership with the World Food Prize, USDA created the Wallace-Carver Fellowship in 2011 to inspire the next generation of American scientific and humanitarian leaders. Named for Henry A. Wallace and George Washington Carver, two of the great American leaders in agricultural science and policy who made significant strides toward ending hunger, the Wallace-Carver Fellowship seeks to educate, inspire and train the next generation of agricultural leaders.

USDA Joins Tribal Leaders for Historic Meeting

This February I had the great honor of participating in a meeting on the landscape of nutrition programs in tribal communities.  The meeting in Washington, D.C. brought together elected leaders from 12 tribal nations across the country, as well as USDA Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse and representatives of tribal organizations.

Nutrition wasn’t the only topic on the table that day, as leaders shared with us the wonders and challenges for those living within tribal communities. Elected leaders from as far west as Quinault Nation (along the coast of Washington) to representatives from Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians in northern Michigan, spoke of the beauty and tradition among their tribes, but also shared the challenges experienced by tribal youth, young families, single adults, and respected elders living on Indian reservations.

USDA Celebrates the Public Service of 12 Unsung Heroes

Every day, USDA employees are hard at work providing safe, nutritious food for our families and children; conserving our land and natural resources; supporting our nation’s farmers and ranchers; expanding market opportunities for American agriculture at home and abroad; and investing in our rural economies.  Recently, Secretary Vilsack penned a moving essay as to why he dedicates his life to public service at the USDA.

Nearly 100,000 USDA employees serve our country with pride and dedication. As part of Public Service Recognition Week, I joined the Organization of Professional Employees at the Department of Agriculture to honor 12 outstanding colleagues and teams from around the country in our 31st Annual Unsung Hero Award Ceremony.  I invite you to congratulate these extraordinary public servants for their dedication to their jobs and their communities.

Talking Trade in the Sunshine State

Recently, I had the pleasure of hosting USDA Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Under Secretary, Michael Scuse, here in Florida for an agricultural trade roundtable. Mr. Scuse met with more than 25 Florida agriculture leaders at the Port of Tampa to discuss trade issues and talk about Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).

Trade Promotion Authority, which needs Congressional approval, is a critical tool in our efforts to seek approval of trade agreements that support and create U.S. jobs while helping American agriculture compete more successfully in an ever-expanding global marketplace. Right now, the United States is negotiating two critical trade agreements – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). Trade Promotion Authority would help ensure that America’s farmers, ranchers, and food processors receive the greatest benefit from these negotiations.

Starting from Scratch

This post is part of a disaster assistance program feature series on the USDA blog. Check back every Wednesday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

Richard and Susan Rausch lost nearly 70 percent of their cow-calf operation when Winter Storm Atlas dumped three feet of snow on the western part of South Dakota, killing thousands of cattle across the region. The Rausch’s 300-head of cattle dwindled down to about 90.

“You just can't put into words what the devastation was like following the blizzard," said Richard. "The roads were closed from snow drifts, but once we were able to get out with the tractor, there was dead livestock wherever you went. Our neighbor's livestock was found dead in our yard and our cattle took cover in rough country at the start of the blizzard and they ended up drifting five to six miles away.”

U.S. Companies Explore Trade Opportunities in China

Northeast China has been a difficult market for U.S. companies to crack in the past. The region is traditionally an area of farming and manufacturing, making it difficult to find a place for U.S. agricultural exports. But recent economic growth and development have sent the region’s agricultural imports soaring, steadily outpacing the rest of China, and American companies are taking notice. Last week, representatives from nine state departments of agriculture and 28 U.S. companies participated in a USDA trade mission to learn and explore the opportunities for trade in the region.

Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse led the agricultural trade mission to Dalian, Shenyang and Changchun to learn about China’s rapidly evolving market conditions and business environment. China is the largest market for U.S. food and farm products – U.S. agricultural exports to the country tripled over the last decade, now accounting for nearly 20 percent of all foreign sales of U.S. agricultural products. USDA’s trade mission to China during World Trade Month will open new doors and help farmers and ranchers capitalize on the tremendous export potential for American agricultural products.

When it Comes to Honoring Our Agricultural Heroes, Thank You Is Not Enough

This is the final post of a Microloan Success feature series on the USDA blog. To see previous blogs, go to the Microloan Success feature series.

I’ve got one of the best jobs in the country, hands down. As Under Secretary for the Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, I get to meet with – and talk to – farmers and ranchers across America every day. These hard working men and women, and their families are the backbone of U.S. agriculture. Their dedication and commitment inspire me.

It’s an honor to be able to service these agricultural heroes through the programs we offer at the Farm Service Agency (FSA). When severe weather devastates our nation’s cropland, FSA is there helping producers recover.

Teaching the World to Eat Pecans

Do they like pecan pie in Turkey?  If they don’t now, they will soon if Randy Hudson has anything to say about it.

Hudson, his wife Mary Jo and their family operate Hudson Pecan Company in Ocilla, Ga.  Currently, they have their hopes focused on Turkey as a potential new market.  This past June, Scott Hudson, Randy’s son and company vice president, traveled with USDA’s Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services, Michael Scuse, on a trade mission to Turkey. Their goal was to introduce the pecan to prospective buyers.

The June trade mission was part of President Obama’s National Export Initiative to double exports by 2014. Agriculture exports have remained on record-breaking pace since 2009.  The 2012 ag exports reached $135.8 billion, nearly tripling the values from 1999 ($48 billion).

This Week At USDA - A Video Recap of Our Top Headlines

Today we posted the first edition of a new video feature at USDA. Each week we'll share a rundown of some of the key announcements, activities, and current events related to our work at USDA, giving you the highlights. Tune in next week, and let us know what you think of the first edition – we'd love your feedback!