Sweet Talk

Celebrating 150 Years - USDA

Published in the January 2012 Issue Published online: Jan 23, 2012 Feature Nancy Sanchez, Editor
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A long time ago, Pres. Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act of Congress that established the United States Department of Agriculture.

In Lincoln's final annual message to Congress, he referred to the USDA as "The People's Department." Over 150 years ago, more than half of the population lived or worked on a farm. Not so much today. Most folks live and work in cities far from the countryside. However, agriculture roots run deep and the interest in gardening has had renewed enthusiasm. City dwellers want to find ways to grow their own little healthy garden of bountiful produce. They are seeking ag education and knowledge. The USDA has plenty of resources and educational tools to help out.

Lincoln's leadership had the foresight to create an agricultural library with the purpose of supporting the USDA's agenda of collecting and distributing ag information.

The National Agricultural Library is housed today in the Abraham Lincoln Building.

Just imagine all those records and photos and documents of American agriculture for the past 150 years in one fantastic building. Can't you just smell the dusty, musty soil and crop legends floating about as you turn the pages of history from the fields and forests? The advancements in technology, farming practices, crop varieties and gatherings of harvests are worthy of awe and serious grateful contemplation.

Whenever I hear the story of Johnny Appleseed, the scent of juicy apples, perhaps imagined, is present.

I also think of the sacrifice and intense physical labor involved in our agricultural history.

I hope we can all find ways to join in the celebration of our People's Department as 150 years' worth of ".a more modern and effective service provider and to deliver the best possible results for all of the American people."

To learn more about the history of the USDA visit www.usda.gov