It was a morning on the farm for U.S. Department of Agriculture Acting Under Secretary Ann Bartuska and Congressman Don Bacon today. They joined other dignitaries on a tour of the Omaha urban agriculture program that is the product of a partnership between the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, University of Nebraska - Lincoln Extension and the Omaha Home for Boys.
They toured Cooper Memorial Farm at 86th and Mormon Bridge Road. This program offers hands-on learning for young people and adults interested in obtaining skills for employment in agriculture or for starting their own enterprise. They were also joined by a group of Bryan High School students involved in their Urban Agriculture and Natural Resources Academy. They make up the largest FFA chapter in the state and the only Omaha Public School to have an agricultural program.
Dr. Bartuska oversees USDA's research, education and economics programs and served as co-chair of a USDA task force that is looking at ways to better use the department's existing resources to help advance urban agriculture. She says, "The partnership that exists here I think is a very special one because it connects youth and to the education and hopefully creating our next population of farmers and ranchers. It is also helping us deliver local foods to the American public and that is something we believe and support. Increasingly USDA is has embraced the idea of urban ag and we are making sure that we can have the capability to support all of you."
Congressman Bacon told NewsRadio 1110 KFAB, "It is important to teach our urban youth about agriculture because more and more of our community is moving into the city and suburbs. Fewer and fewer people are living on the farm but agriculture is one of the national resources and treasures of our country." Congressman Bacon serves on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee.