Entries in Tom Vilsack (3)


USDA Declares Natural Disaster in 26 Drought-Stricken States

USDA(WASHINGTON) -- As more than half of the U.S. battles through drought conditions, the Department of Agriculture announced this week a series of improvements that will help farmers and ranchers receive federal assistance faster.

The move, which will cut down on the processing time for relief and lower the interest rate for emergency loans, comes as the USDA declared a natural disaster in over 1,000 counties in 26 states.  Those affected areas now qualify for help.

"We need to be cognizant of the fact that drought and weather conditions have severely impacted and affected producers around the country," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

"We do know that people are hurting and people are concerned and to the extent we can do things that can help them get through these tough times we want to do that," he added.

The drought has likely been spurred by hotter than normal temperatures across the country.  According to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the first six months of the year were the warmest January-through-June period for the U.S. since record keeping began in 1895.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


First Lady Eats with Kids to Tout New School Lunch Standards

Alex Wong/Getty Images(ALEXANDRIA, Va.) -- As a group of elementary school children went through the lunch line at Parklawn Elementary school in Alexandria, Va., on Wednesday, first lady Michelle Obama playfully reminded the students, “Don’t forget your veggies!”

Mrs. Obama was joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and celebrity chef Rachael Ray to talk with parents and teachers about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new and improved nutrition standards for school lunches.

“When we send our kids to school, we have a right to expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we’re trying to keep from them when they’re at home,”  the first lady said.  “We have a right to expect that the food they get at school is the same kind of food that we want to serve at our own kitchen tables.”

The new standards are a huge milestone for the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that President Obama signed into law last year.  They will ensure that students receive healthy meals at school, including more fruits and vegetables, increased amounts of whole-grain-rich foods, and fat-free or low-fat milk options.

Vilsack called Wednesday a “red letter day for America’s children” because this is the first time in a generation that the nation improved the standards of nutrition in school meals for children.

“That’s what this is about,” he said.  ”It’s about improving the quality of the meals that are served to 32 million American children.”

As soon as Mrs. Obama entered the cafeteria, about 220 children jumped to their feet to cheer and wave American flags. She walked down one side of the cafeteria with Vilsack, greeting kids and shaking hands as she made her way to the food line.

The first lady walked through the food line with a group of children, asking them to “show her the ropes.”  When approaching the vegetables, she said to the kids, “This is the best part,” and encouraged them to get their veggies too.

Mrs. Obama reminded parents and teachers that it’s going to take some effort, imagination and commitment to improve the quality of food that’s served at schools.  She asked them to “embrace” this effort, because parents are the best role models for their children.

“If we as adults embrace it, the kids will follow suit,” she said.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sec. Agriculture Vilsack Anticipates Big Export Year

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON D.C.) -- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack released an optimistic quarterly forecast of U.S. agricultural exports Thursday.

Vilsack said that 2011 is expected to be the biggest year in U.S. agriculture exports ever, and will probably surpass 2008's exports by $20 billion. He added that the trade surplus should reach $47.5 billion: $1.5 billion more than the 2008.

Vilsack's statement concluded with a positive comment about the U.S. economy:

"Today's numbers are more good news not just for farmers and ranchers and the businesses and communities that support them, but for our nation's economy as a whole. Every $1 billion in agricultural exports generates an additional $1.4 billion in economic activity and supports 8,000 jobs."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio