What a great opportunity to be one of 15 USDA agencies exhibiting at the annual Agricultural Outlook Forum held February 24-25, 2011 in Arlington, VA. The Forum rocked with top agency executives, stakeholders, and industry representatives, including keynote speakers Secretary Tom Vilsack and former President Bill Clinton. During Clinton's speECH, a key topic that resonated with me concerned what agriculture will look like 20 years from now. Clinton expounded on the farming projects the Clinton Foundation has going on in small farming villages in countries like Tanzania and Malawi. He stated that the focal points of the international farming projects is to build good will, reduce instability and inequality, and not threaten the future of American agriculture. For more information on Clinton's speECH click here.
Our very own Administrator, Julie Paradis with all of her energy and enthusiasm moderated a lively discussion titled, "The Role of Nutrition Programs in Agriculture: From Tractor to Table." FNS distributed attractive buttons with "From Tractor to Table" printed on them at the FNS exhibit booth. The breakout session explored the expanded role of FNS among families and the marketplace as a result of increased consumer participation in nutrition assistance programs. For instance, SNAP participation for the first time now exceeds 44 million. In addition, half of the babies born in the United States get WIC help. These are just a few examples of the impact that the Food and Nutrition Service has on our nation. For more information about these interesting and informative discussions at the Ag Forum, please visit www.usda.gov/oce/forum.