Message from the Director
At USDA External & Intergovernmental Affairs, we are your conduit to and window into the Department of more than 100,000 employees serving the American people. Our office aims to keep you informed of all the transformational work going on at USDA and this newsletter is one way we’re doing that. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you’d like any additional information on any of the programs or events you see within this newsletter or to learn more about USDA. Additionally, it’s our goal to serve as a resource for you. In order to do so, we rely on your feedback. Please send us your input at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, and we have highlighted below some of the great work USDA has done this month in celebration.
Each month, EIA holds a stakeholder call to provide timely information on what’s happening at USDA and feature USDA staff speakers to highlight mission area announcements and programs. On the May call, we were joined by Doug McKalip, Senior Advisor to the Secretary and Seth Meyer, USDA Chief Economist, who engaged with stakeholders on the current state of the agricultural economy and provided a brief update on the situation in Ukraine as it relates to American agriculture.
Join EIA for our next monthly stakeholders call on Tuesday, June 14. If you haven’t joined us for a call before, please use this form to be added to our list and receive the invitation when it is available (June Registration Link coming soon).
Contact the USDA Office of External & Intergovernmental Affairs (EIA)
Liz Archuleta, Director PH:202-941-4682 Email: Liz.Archuleta@usda.gov
Mia Mayberry, Deputy Director PH: 202-961-0879 Email: Mia.Mayberry@usda.gov
Jon Hurst, Special Assistant PH: 202-941-4695 Email: Jon.Hurst@usda.gov
General Inbox for Office of External & Intergovernmental Affairs: email@example.com
Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month
USDA is proud to join the nation in recognizing the Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, also known as Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI). Observed annually in May, AANHPI Heritage Month is a time to reflect upon and celebrate the remarkable role of the AANHPI community in our nation’s history.
The Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC), the premier organization representing Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) employees in the Federal and District of Columbia governments, announced the theme for this year’s observance of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: “Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration”. This year’s theme is a continuation of the “Advancing Leaders” theme series which began in FY 2021.
A Proclamation on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, 2022
During Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, our Nation recognizes the innumerable contributions, vibrant cultures, and rich heritage of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AA and NHPIs). As some of the fastest-growing racial and ethnic groups in the Nation, AA and NHPI communities represent a multitude of ethnicities, languages, and experiences that enrich America and strengthen our Union.
AA and NHPIs have long played an essential role in writing the American story. From serving our country in uniform, advocating for civil rights, starting new businesses, and winning Olympic medals, the contributions of the AA and NHPI community touch the lives of Americans every day. AA and NHPIs serve with distinction at the highest levels of Federal, State, and local government. I am proud to have Vice President Kamala Harris, the first person of South Asian descent to serve as Vice President, and Katherine Tai, the first Asian American United States Trade Representative, in my Administration.
As we celebrate AA and NHPI communities, we must also redouble our commitment to combating the surge of anti-Asian hate crimes. The First Lady and I shared the Nation’s outrage as we witnessed these crimes increase by 339 percent last year compared to the year before in cities across America. Many other incidents of anti-Asian bias, xenophobia, and harassment that surfaced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic were not even reported. We cannot allow these horrific acts to continue threatening the safety of AA and NHPI Americans — especially women, girls, and the elderly. These acts are wrong; they are un-American; and they must stop.
In my first week in office, I directed all executive departments and agencies to combat xenophobia, hate, and discrimination against AA and NHPI communities. I also signed into law last May the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to provide law enforcement with resources to identify, investigate, and report hate crimes and ensure that hate crimes information is more accessible to AA and NHPI communities.
As we work to ensure that hatred has no safe harbor in America’s future, we must confront shameful chapters in our history. That is why, for example, I signed into law the Amache National Historic Site Act — to memorialize the 10,000 Japanese Americans who were unjustly imprisoned at Amache during World War II. And we will continue to root out racial injustices of our past and advance equity for all Americans as we move forward.
Toward that aim, my Administration is making long-overdue investments in AA and NHPI communities. I reestablished and expanded the President’s Advisory Commission and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. The American Rescue Plan helped reduce poverty among AA and NHPI families by approximately 26 percent. We have increased access to capital, training, and counseling for AA and NHPI entrepreneurs so their businesses can thrive. We are also working to ensure that healthcare resources are available to AA and NHPI communities. And we are rebuilding our immigration system so everyone is treated fairly and humanely — including AA and NHPI communities.
This month, we celebrate our fellow Americans from AA and NHPI communities and pay tribute to all they have done to help fulfill the promise of America for all. Together, let us recommit ourselves to building a country in which every American — regardless of who they are, where they come from, or what they look like — has an equal opportunity to thrive.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2022 as Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to learn more about the history of AA and NHPIs, and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-sixth.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.
White House Fact Sheet: Biden-Harris Administration Advances Equity and Opportunity for Asian America, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Communities Across the Country
Mental Health Awareness Month
Sustainable Livelihoods and Behavioral Health: Strategies and Partnerships to Address Farm Stress and Farm Suicide
USDA convened leaders from Federal agencies, the farming and ranching sector, technical assistance providers, as well as individuals and other strategic partners to focus on current challenges, the USDA response, as well as best practices and strategies addressing farm and ranch stress. The event took place from May 17th – May 19th virtually and featured a variety of panels covering issues like ongoing farm stress work and lessons learned, trends in agriculture affecting farm stress, and emerging needs in advance of a new Farm Bill.
Delta Health Care Services Grant Program Notice of Funding Availability
On May 13th, the USDA Rural Business Cooperative Service (RBCS) announced a Notice of Funding Availability for the Delta Health Care Services grant program. The purpose of this program is to provide financial assistance to address the continued unmet health needs in the Delta Region through cooperation among health care professionals, institutions of higher education, research institutions, and economic development entities in the Delta Region. $3 million is currently available for FY 2022.
Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Virtual Convening: Sustainable Livelihoods and Behavioral Health: Strategies and Partnerships to Address Farm Stress and Suicide
On May 17th, USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres-Small moderated a panel for USDA and HHS’s virtual convening to discuss strategies and partnerships to address farm stress and suicide.
Twitter Spaces: A Conversation on Farm Stress & Mental Health with Deputy Secretary Bronaugh
On May 20th, Deputy Secretary Bronaugh, along with Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres-Small, Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux and New York Department of Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball, hosted a Twitter Spaces conversation with farmers and ranchers to discuss issues of farm stress and mental health in rural America.
Wildland Firefighter Health Series
Joint Fire Science Program Interagency Event: USDA Forest Service hosted a 3-day series of presentations and panel discussions on the current science and knowledge around wildland firefighter physical and mental health and overall well-being. Each day, May 31 through June 2, offered 4-5 short presentations followed by a 20–30-minute Q & A and panel discussion.
Farm and Ranch Stress Roundtables with Deputy Secretary Bronaugh
On Friday, May 27th, Deputy Secretary Dr. Jewel Bronaugh hosted a roundtable discussion with Senator Tammy Baldwin in Arlington, Wisconsin focused on farmers’ mental health. In October, USDA announced an investment of nearly $25 million for 50 grants supporting Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) State Department of Agriculture projects, which connect farmers, ranchers, and others in agriculture-related jobs to stress assistance programs, which provide vital support, ranging from mental health and legal issues to family and youth stress.
Deputy Secretary Bronaugh also travelled to Darlington, where she announced $52 million in USDA Rural Development investments to replace the existing Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County with a new, fully-equipped and staffed facility designed to meet the current and future needs of the area. The event underscored USDA’s commitment under the Biden-Harris Administration to revitalize Rural America through vital funding opportunities like this that will create and expand access to health care and other critical services.
Operation Fly Formula & Infant Formula Shortages
On May 22, Secretary Vilsack traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana, where he greeted the arrival of the first shipment of formula brought to the United States under Operation Fly Formula in response to the infant formula shortage caused by Abbott Nutrition’s voluntary recall. Due to the urgency of the situation, this was a U.S. military aircraft flight and departed Ramstein Air Base in Germany. The flight transported 132 pallets of Nestlé Health Science Alfamino® Infant and Alfamino® Junior formula to Indianapolis, Indiana. These formulas have been prioritized because they serve a critical medical purpose and are in short supply in the United States because of the Abbott Sturgis plant closure.
President Biden launched Operation Fly Formula to speed up the import of infant formula to increase US supply. Under Operation Fly Formula, USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are authorized to request DOD support to pick up overseas infant formula that meets U.S. health and safety standards, so it can get to store shelves faster. Alfamino® is primarily available through hospitals and home health care companies that serve patients at home.
USDA Offers Funding Flexibility to Help States and WIC Families Amid Infant Formula Shortages
USDA additionally offered funding flexibility to help states and WIC families amid infant formula shortages. USDA is encouraging state agencies and their infant formula manufacturers to consider seeking temporary flexibility in their infant formula contracts to allow WIC participants to purchase alternate sizes, forms, or brands of infant formula during the current shortage.
State agencies have contracts with one of three manufacturers to provide specific formula to WIC infants who are partially or fully formula fed. To maximize access for WIC participants, USDA is recommending state agencies, Rickett Mead Johnson (RMJ), and Gerber work together to consider temporarily allowing alternate brand formulas. To help make this financially feasible, USDA is quickly leveraging the new Access to Baby Formula Act signed by President Biden and will cover the additional costs of alternate brand formulas in states that have contracts with RMJ or Gerber, if the contracted size, form, or brand of formula is unavailable. In states with Abbott contracts, Abbott is currently covering that cost difference.
More information about USDA’s response can be found on Food and Nutrition Service’s Infant Formula Safety webpage.
USDA Food Systems Transformation
Please join Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for a livestream event to announce USDA’s framework for shoring up the food supply chain and transforming the food system to be fairer, more competitive, and more resilient. USDA efforts to create more and better markets will benefit both producers and consumers, as well as address longstanding issues intensified by the pandemic. The livestream event will take place on Wednesday, June 1 at 11:30 AM ET at usda.gov/live.
USDA Equity Commission Updates
Equity Commission & Subcommittee on Agriculture
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Equity Commission held a public meeting of the Subcommittee for Agriculture to continue its work reviewing USDA programs, services, and policies to make recommendations for how the Department can improve access and advance equity. The meetings were held on May 10th and May 11th | Equity Commission May 10th Meeting Recording | Equity Commission May 11th Meeting Recording
Key USDA Under Secretary & Staff Announcements
May 13, 2022 – Statement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the Intent to Nominate Alexis Taylor to Serve as Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs
“Alexis Taylor has dedicated her life to public service. She has not only spent her career serving the American people through her work in U.S. agricultural and trade policy, but also as a Veteran of the U.S. Army. Her nomination builds upon USDA’s commitment to link U.S. agriculture to the world to enhance export opportunities for American farmers and producers and increase global food security. Alexis currently serves as the Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, a position she was appointed to in December 2016 by Governor Kate Brown, where she oversees policy directives for Oregon’s 38 programs and its 500 employees. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and minor in Communications from Iowa State University.
Alexis is a collaborative leader with a track record of working towards large-scale solutions in partnership with the communities she serves. This spirit and approach position her uniquely for this role and will ensure cohesiveness between USDA and the Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs team. I am confident Alexis is the right person to lead as we continue to address global food security, promote American exports across the globe and strengthen trade relationships with our global partners.”
May 13, 2022 – Statement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the Intent to Nominate Stacy Dean to Serve as Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services
“Since the start of the Biden-Harris Administration, Stacy Dean has been dedicated to advancing food and nutrition security for all Americans as the Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services (FNCS). Her commitment during her time at USDA and throughout her career proves she is exceptionally well suited to serve as Under Secretary for FNCS. Since taking on the role of Deputy Under Secretary, Stacy has sought to increase nutrition assistance for struggling Americans and tackle barriers that have been long engrained into assistance programs. Prior to joining USDA, she served as Vice President for Food Assistance Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), where her team reported on the impacts of federal nutrition programs and developed policies to improve them. Before her role with CBPP, she was a budget analyst with the Office of Management and Budget where she worked on policy development, regulatory and legislative review, and budgetary process and execution for a variety of income support programs. Stacy has an incredible depth of knowledge and experience in the field of food and nutrition, and I am thrilled at the prospect of her continuing to shape the nation’s food and nutrition policy as the Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services.”
May 19, 2022 – USDA Announces Additional Farm Service Agency and Rural Development State Directors
- Joy Kono – Hawaii FSA State Executive Director
- Maria Herrera – California RD State Director
USDA May Announcements
May 3, 2022 – USDA Accepts 2 Million Acres in Offers Through Conservation Reserve Program General Signup
May 3, 2022 – USDA Renews People’s Garden Initiative
May 4, 2022 – Statements by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health
May 5, 2022 – USDA Promotes Program Access, Combats Discrimination Against LGBTQI+ Community
May 6, 2022 – Statement from Secretaries Fudge, McDonough, Vilsack and Yellen on Continued Efforts to Connect Homeowners to Pandemic Relief
May 10, 2022 – First Round of Proposals for Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Shows Strong Interest
May 13, 2022 – USDA Continues Urgent Actions to Address Infant Formula Shortage
May 16, 2022 – USDA to Provide Approximately $6 Billion to Commodity and Specialty Crop Producers Impacted by 2020 and 2021 Natural Disasters
May 17, 2022 – Bring Food Safety to Your Summer Vacation
May 18, 2022 – Statement from Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on President Biden’s Actions to Address Infant Formula Shortage
May 19, 2022 – USDA Announces Additional Farm Service Agency and Rural Development State Directors
May 24, 2022 – USDA Invests $770 Million to Expand Market Opportunities for Rural Businesses and People in 36 States and Puerto Rico
May 25, 2022 – Statement from Secretary Vilsack on Ongoing Violence in America
May 25, 2022 – USDA Offers Funding Flexibility to Help States, WIC Families Amid Infant Formula Shortages
May 26, 2022 – Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Strengthen Food Supply Chains, Level the Playing Field for Growers, and Lower Prices for American Consumers
May 27, 2022 – Biden Administration Announces $32 Million to Advance Climate-Smart Mass Timber Construction, Expand Wood Markets
Mission Area-Specific Announcements
Rural Development (RD)
- USDA and EDA Launch Resource Guide to Boost Economic Development in Rural Communities | Press Release
- USDA and University of Kentucky Unveil Digital Placemaking Toolkit for Communities Across Rural America | Press Release
- USDA Makes Available $200 Million to Strengthen U.S. Food Supply Chain | Press Release
Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC)
- USDA Announces May 2022 Lending Rates for Agricultural Producers |