Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the Old Illinois State Capitol on Wednesday to announce the year-long celebration of USDA’s 150th anniversary in 2012.

Vilsack was in the hometown of USDA’s founder – President Abraham Lincoln – who signed into law an act of Congress establishing the United States Department of Agriculture in 1862.

“Through our work on food, agriculture, economic development, science, natural resource conservation and a host of issues, USDA still fulfills President Lincoln’s vision as ‘The People’s Department’ – touching the lives of every American, every day,” said Vilsack. “As we commemorate 150 years, we will look for lessons from the past that can help us strengthen USDA in the future to address the changing needs of agriculture and rural America.”