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|May 15, 2012: Hastings Celebrates 150th Anniversary of the United States Department of Agriculture|
Today, I am proud to recognize the 150th anniversary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Founded by President Lincoln in 1862 as "the People's Department," the USDA has helped modernize and advance American agriculture to the point where Americans now enjoy a safe and abundant food supply at a cost of less than ten percent of their disposable income. The USDA has been critical in protecting the farmers and ranchers who are the stewards of our land and essential to ensuring that our nation maintains an independent and secure food supply.
Over the course of its 150 years, the USDA has repeatedly been vital in solving the many agricultural challenges facing our nation. For example, a rapidly declining pollinating species population currently threatens the sustainability of our agriculture across the country. With one out of every three bites of food we eat the result of the intervention of pollinators like birds, bats, bees, and butterflies, the USDA has taken a lead role in addressing this looming disaster through programs like the Agricultural Research Service's research on the cause and treatment of Colony Collapse Disorder. The importance of the USDA is reflected in the fact that without pollinators, our country would not be able to grow food.
The USDA also does much more than just work with our local agriculture. It is a key player in addressing the changing needs of agriculture across the globe. The world's population is estimated to be nine billion people by 2050. Consequently, the world will need to produce more food in the next 50 years than has been produced during the past 10,000 years combined. The USDA, America's farmers, ranchers, and research scientists will answer this challenge together through programs such as Food for Progress, McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition, the USDA National Hunger Clearinghouse, and the Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Initiative.
One hundred and fifty years ago, President Lincoln recognized the potential of America's farmers to resourcefully cultivate our land to provide an ample food supply. Today, we must use the same innovative spirit in approaching agricultural production. By supporting USDA programs and initiatives, we are able to link research and scientific innovations to effective adaptations in order to successfully address the food security needs of our country. I am pleased to honor our country's farmers and ranchers, and acknowledge the work of the USDA on this historic occasion.