Secretary, US Department of Agriculture
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Ray Suarez joined The NewsHour in October 1999 as a Washington-based Senior Correspondent. Suarez came to The NewsHour from NPR where he had been host of the nationwide, call-in news program "Talk of the Nation" since 1993. Prior to that, he spent seven years covering local and national stories for the NBC-owned station, WMAQ-TV in Chicago.
Tom Vilsack is secretary of the US Department of Agriculture, where he is focused on strengthening agricultural economy; revitalizing rural communities; protecting and conserving natural resources; and providing a safe, sufficient, and nutritious food supply. Vilsack has worked to implement President Obama's agenda to turn around the economy and put Americans back to work.
In 2009, USDA supported struggling farmers and ranchers, provided food aid to one in five Americans, and implemented the Recovery Act to create jobs. Vilsack is implementing new strategies to restore forests and clean water supply. These conservation efforts are creating private-sector jobs and protecting and rehabilitating forests and wetlands. Under Vilsack's leadership, USDA is targeting child hunger and obesity. Vilsack has ordered a top-to-bottom review of USDA's food safety standards and has begun to implement policy changes. Vilsack has instituted reforms at USDA that will save taxpayers more than $50 million.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack discusses the causes and implications of the increasingly severe forest fires and floods in the United States over the last several years. Vilsack cites budgetary flaws and climate change-related issues as conducive to extreme forest fires and other natural disasters.
The active production of useful plants or animals in ecosystems that have been created by people. Agriculture may include cultivating the soil, growing and harvesting crops, and raising livestock. Agriculture was independently developed in many places, including the Middle East, East Asia, South Asia, and the Americas. The earliest evidence for agriculture has been found in the Middle East and dates to between 14,500 and 12,000 BP. Early cultivars include wild barley (Middle East), millet (China), and squash (the Americas). The domestication of many animals now considered to be livestock occurred during roughly the same period, although dogs were domesticated considerably earlier. Slash-and-burn land-clearing methods and crop rotation were early agricultural techniques. Steady improvements in tools and methods over the centuries increased agricultural output, as did mechanization, selective breeding and hybridization, and, beginning in the 20th century, the use of herbicides and insecticides.