WASHINGTON, May 11, 2012 – On May 15, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act of Congress establishing the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This week, President Barack Obama will help celebrate 150 years of accomplishments at the agency.


Two and a half years after he established the Department, Lincoln described USDA as “The People’s Department” in what would become his final annual message to Congress.


President Lincoln knew the importance of agriculture to the nation’s prosperity – particularly at a time when about half of all Americans lived on the farm. Now, with only about 2 percent of the U.S. population working on farms and ranches, it is much more difficult to get presidents to pay attention.


In fact, President Obama only mentioned the word “rural” once during his State of the Union speech this year—in reference to the need for better broadband - and mentioned farmers once, in reference to removal of a regulation on spilled milk.


That could change this week. The president will have plenty of opportunities to focus on American agriculture, not only with a video appearance for USDA’s anniversary celebration on Tuesday, but during a live appearance at the Chicago Council’s Global Symposium on Friday.


For a list of hearings and events this week:


Monday, May 14:


8:45 a.m., EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary John Bryson and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk will speak about enabling environmental markets and exports. Washington, DC.


1:30 pm EDT. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will host the May USDA Virtual Office Hours on Twitter. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will sit down to talk about USDA’s 150th anniversary, major accomplishments and the future of agriculture and food. During the live Twitter chat, Secretary Vilsack will answer YOUR questions on the past, present and future of USDA as an every day, every way Department. Submit your energy related questions in advance to the @USDA Twitter account using the hashtag #AskUSDA and #USDA150.


2:00 pm. The U.S. Senate convenes with plans to resume consideration of the motion to proceed to H.R. 2072, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act, and confirmation of two U.S. District Judges.


Tuesday, May 15


10:00 a.m., Senate Finance Committee hearing: Tax Reform: What It Could Mean for Tribes and Territories, 215 Dirksen Senate Office Building

10:30 a.m. EDT: Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and MSNBC Morning Joe's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzenzinski will kick off the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Also joining the event will be conservationist 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. USDA South Building- Cafeteria, 1400 Independence Ave. Southwest
Washington, DC


The U.S. House of Representatives meets at noon for speeches and 2 pm for work on 11 suspension bills.


Wednesday, May 16


8:30 a.m to 3:00 pm.. CropLife America’s third annual policy conference at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.


10:00 a.m. Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management — Public Hearing
RE: Formulation of the 2012 Farm Bill: Commodity Programs and Crop Insurance, 1300 LHOB.


10:00 a.m., House Committee on Financial Services | Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, Hearing: Hearing entitled “The Impact of the Dodd-Frank Act: What It Means to be a Systemically Important Financial Institution,” 2128 Rayburn HOB  


10:00 a.m. The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology has scheduled a hearing in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The title of the hearing is “Broadband Loans and Grants.”


1:00 p.m. the Committee on Small Business will conduct a hearing titled U.S. Trade Strategy: What’s Next for Small Business Exporters? The hearing will be held in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Mr. Robert B. Sinner, Partner and President, SB&B Foods, Inc., Casselton, ND, testifying on behalf of the American Soybean Association


Secretary Vilsack in Pennsylvania

Deputy Secretary Merrigan in California


Thursday, May 17


9:30 a.m., Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, full committee will consider S. 2146, the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012, Dirksen 10:00 am.


10:00 a.m. House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management — Public Hearing
RE: Formulation of the 2012 Farm Bill: Commodity Programs and Crop Insurance, 1300 LHOB.


10:00 a.m., House Committee on Ways and Means | Trade, Markup: Chairman Brady Announces Hearing on Supporting Economic Growth and Job Creation through Customs Trade Modernization, Facilitation, and Enforcement



10:00 a.m., Senate Finance Committee hearing on “The Social Security Administration: Is it Meeting its responsibilities to save taxpayer dollars and serve the Public? 215 Dirksen Senate Office Building.


3:00 pm., House Agriculture Committee will hold a business meeting to consider H.R. 4235, the “Swap Data Repository & Clearinghouse Indemnification Correction Act of 2012”; H.R. 1838, the “Swaps Bailout Prevention Act”; and H.R. 3283, the “Swap Jurisdiction Certainty Act.”


Deputy Secretary Merrigan in California


Friday, May 18


8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Chicago Council on Global Affairs Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, hosts President Barack Obama along with G8 and African leaders at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center


9:30 am. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry, hearing on the 2012 Farm Bill, regarding Energy and Forestry programs, 1300 LHOB.

Deputy Secretary Merrigan in California


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