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World Soil Day - A Time to Celebrate the Foundation of Agriculture

Last year during the International Year of Soils (IYS), I had the incredible opportunity to help the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) spread the word about the many life-giving functions of soil. As part of this effort, I traveled to New York City to attend the kickoff ceremony for IYS at the United Nations, which was held on World Soil Day.

In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly designated December 5 as World Soil Day. It is observed this day each year to honor the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, the world’s longest reigning monarch, who passed away in October. He played a pivotal role in the promotion of soil science and conservation, and was a leader in sustainable land resource management.

Kenyan Credits McGovern-Dole Program for Changing His Life

As a young boy in eastern Kenya, Peter Mumo faced a life of poverty, hunger and illness. That is until he started receiving school meals at the age of nine through the USDA McGovern–Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program. After that, his life turned around. He started to gain weight, his health improved and he began doing well in school.

And now, at age 28, he is in Des Moines, Iowa, to take part in a six-week business and entrepreneurship training program hosted by Drake University as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship. The Fellowship is the flagship program of the Obama Administration’s Young African Leaders Initiative that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training and networking.

International Youth Day: NIFA Helps Provide Sustainable Youth Leadership

The United Nations' celebrates International Youth every August and this year’s theme is Youth Leading Sustainability. The international recognition focuses on the leading role of young people in pursuing poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development through sustainable production and consumption. There are roughly 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24, the largest generation of youth in human history. They face never-before-seen shifts in populations, economies, technology, health and the environment. USDA and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture help today's youth navigate these shifts and develop into healthy adults.

Recognizing the voice of youth is important and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) plays a key role in providing positive youth development through the internationally recognized 4-H program, which empowers youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults.

United States Drought Monitor: Innovative Data Solutions for the Future of Water

Communities across the United States are facing water challenges, impacting millions of lives and costing billions of dollars in damages. Recent events, including record-breaking drought in the West and severe flooding in the Southeast have elevated a national dialogue on the state of our Nation’s water resources and infrastructure.

These challenges are why on March 22, the White House hosted a Water Summit to correspond with the United Nations World Water Day.  The meeting raised awareness of water issues and highlighted potential solutions to building a sustainable and secure water future. Following a slate of presentations outlining innovative solutions to water quality and quantity challenges, attendees were invited to review interactive demonstrations of projects including technologies that help communities and businesses manage the challenges of long term drought.

For Ethiopian Schoolchildren, McGovern-Dole Helps Mitigate Effects of Devastating Drought

With Ethiopia facing its most devastating drought in decades, a school feeding project supported by the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program is providing sustenance to vulnerable children and families in some of the country’s hardest-hit areas.

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) are partnering to provide meals to 263,000 children in the Afar and Somali regions of eastern Ethiopia. As the only international donors offering school feeding in those areas, FAS and WFP are currently serving an estimated 20 percent of all Afar and Somali schoolchildren.

USDA Provides Nutritious U.S. Peanuts in Humanitarian Effort for Haiti

“Working for peanuts” is a phrase typically used when someone is toiling for little reward. But when describing the activities of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a far better phrase is “working with peanuts,” especially when referring to the agreement recently reached by USDA to provide this nutritional commodity to a neighboring nation in great need, the Republic of Haiti.

USDA crafted a deal that will result in 500 metric tons of packaged, dry-roasted peanuts grown in the United States to be shipped later this year to school children in Haiti who have little access to food.  This effort stems from the “Stocks for Food” program that first started in late 2007, a joint project between the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) and Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) that transfers surplus farm commodities in government inventory to feeding programs and food banks both domestically and overseas.

International Day of Forests 2016

March 21, 2016 marks the United Nations’ fourth annual International Day of Forests, a day to celebrate the important and diverse contributions of the world’s forests. As it has from the start, the U.S. Forest Service commemorates the day and works with international partners throughout the year to protect the health of forest ecosystems worldwide.

For over 50 years, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has partnered with Mexico and Canada through the North American Forest Commission, one of six regional forestry commissions under the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Celebrating International Day of Forests with a Splash

In a changing climate, it takes elaborate and energetic collaboration to preserve forests around the world, and there is no better celebration of trees than water conservation.  The United Nation’s International Day of Forests, this March 21, is a time for heightening awareness of these partnerships, their ambitions, and the values and services forests provide.

Events that disturb the forest on a landscape scale often dramatically alter all of the resources that characterize a healthy ecosystem. This is something the U.S. Forest Service is all too familiar with as every year more fires burn earlier in the fire season and many have grown in scale.

Working Together to Address Global Food Insecurity

As a daughter of farmers, and as someone who has spent her career working on behalf of farmers, one of the things I care most deeply about is the future of agriculture –  both in the United States and around the world. That is why one of my highest priorities at USDA has been to help develop the next generation of farmers, ensuring that women, young people, and others have access to the programs and support they need to farm successfully. 

As Deputy Secretary, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Africa, Central and South America. I’ve met many inspirational farmers from around the world, and while the languages we speak, the crops we grow, and the production methods we use may differ, one thing rings true in every conversation: we share the same passions and the same challenges in feeding a growing world population.

Keeping U.S. Meat Competitive on the World Stage

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has the vital mission of administering programs that help market American agricultural products competitively in the global marketplace.  One of the ways AMS meets this mission is through the development of our own globally recognized meat standards, developed by the program I oversee, the AMS Livestock, Poultry and Seed Program.  However, separately, AMS works to achieve our mission through our participation and leadership in international standards setting organizations such as the UNECE.

For many years, I have represented the U.S. as the Vice-Chairperson of the Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Specialized Section on Standardization of Meat.  UNECE is one of the many sections of the United Nations (UN), and facilitates international trade by developing agricultural quality standards.