Wheat Growers Celebrate USDA’s 150th Anniversary

ARLINGTON, Virginia — The U.S. wheat industry congratulates the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as it celebrates its 150th anniversary on Tuesday.

On May 15, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act establishing the Department of Agriculture. Five days later, he signed the Homestead Act, which opened up western lands to settlement, including much of today’s wheat production region. Later that summer, Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, establishing the system of “land grant” universities that are still vital to wheat and other agricultural research.

Today, USDA handles a diverse portfolio administering nutrition, risk management, conservation and trade promotion programs as well as food inspection and safety services and vital public research on crops including wheat.

“The original vision for USDA, the Homestead Act and the Morrill Act was to help America’s farmers and ranchers provide a safe, ample food supply for our nation and the world,” said Erik Younggren, a wheat farmer from Hallock, MN, and president of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG). “Agriculture has changed a lot since the 1800s, and yet USDA remains vital to our farms, our nation’s lands, our nation’s food security and safety and our economy.”

Since 1860, the percentage of the population working in agriculture has declined from about 48 percent to just seven-tenths of a percent of all Americans. This makes the farmers who remain on the land — and the innovations they have incorporated into their operations to make them more efficient — vitally important to the nation and the world.

“From its support for research and export market development to inspecting our food and helping maintain a safety net for farmers, USDA has had a positive and lasting impact on the wheat industry, American agriculture and the lives of every American,” said Randy Suess, a wheat farmer from Colfax, WA, and chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates.

In this anniversary year, the wheat industry encourages farmers and consumers to learn more about USDA’s contributions to the strength of our nation and to see how the agency can continue to partner with Americans working to provide better lives for their families.

To read and see more from USDA about its 150th anniversary, visit www.usda.gov/usda150.

Visit http://www.wheatworld.org/news-events/2012/05/10-ways-to-celebrate-usdas-150th-anniversary-on-tuesday/ to learn more ways to celebrate the milestone, or search #usda150 on Twitter for the latest anniversary news.

USW is the industry’s market development organization working in more than 100 countries. Its mission is to “develop, maintain, and expand international markets to enhance the profitability of U.S. wheat producers.” The activities of USW are made possible by producer checkoff dollars managed by 19 state wheat commissions and through cost-share funding provided by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. For more information, visit www.uswheat.org or contact your state wheat commission.