Today Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack marked the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and its ongoing work to benefit all Americans every day.
Mika Brzezinski and Former Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) hosts of MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" were the masters of ceremony for the celebration in Washington, DC. Special guests included Chuck Leavell, longtime keyboardist of the Rolling Stones and founder of Mother Nature Network; Art Monk, NFL Hall of Fame Wide Receiver; LaVar Arrington, three time NFL Pro Bowl Linebacker.
"For 150 years, USDA has supported our nation's economic prosperity and touched the lives of generations of Americans," Vilsack said in a ceremony today. "I'm proud of the USDA employees who carry out President Lincoln's legacy throughout the country and around the world, making USDA a truly 'Every Day, Every Way' department. Whether improving domestic and international access to food, promoting nutrition and safety of our food supply, conserving our natural resources, advancing agricultural exports, or developing the rural economy, USDA helps Americans to lead better lives."
President Lincoln signed into law an act of Congress establishing "at the seat of Government of the United States a Department of Agriculture" on May 5, 1862. Over the next two months - in the midst of the Civil War - Lincoln signed additional legislation that expanded and transformed American farming, including the Homestead Act, and the establishment of the Land Grant agricultural university system. Read more about President Lincoln’s ties with agriculture here: http://www.nal.usda.gov/lincolns-agricultural-legacy
More than two years later, in what was to be his last annual message to Congress, Lincoln termed it "the people's Department", a legacy that even now, the agency epitomizes, Vilsack said.
The celebration of USDA’s 150th anniversary kicked off earlier this year at the Agriculture Outlook Forum in February, where past USDA secretaries gathered for an industry roundtable discussion. Watch this video of USDA through the years:
Through the rest of 2012, USDA will continue to celebrate other milestones, including the 150th
anniversary of the signing of the Morrell Act, which established funding for land-grant universities. A celebration will be held at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. June 27 to July 1 and July 4 to 8. For more details click here