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WIC Study Finds Program Supports a Healthier Next Generation

The WIC program helps ensure that every American child has the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong.

The WIC program helps ensure that every American child has the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong.

As National Nutrition Month hits its stride, USDA is excited to announce more evidence that the WIC program is building a healthier future for our nation’s youngest and most vulnerable.  A new USDA study finds that the program continues to serve a high percentage of those who qualify, providing them the nutritional access and resources necessary for a healthy lifestyle.

Officially known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, WIC offers an important boost to the wellbeing of low-income families. The program provides prescribed, healthy, supplemental foods, as well as nutrition education (including breastfeeding promotion and support), and health care referrals to more than 8.5 million low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, and infants and young children.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified the WIC program as a key public health force in the nation’s fight against childhood obesity. Read more »

The Growth of an Industry – 18,000+ Certified Organic Operations in the U.S. Alone

Across the U.S., there was about 4 percent increase in the number of certified organic operations in the last year, and nearly a 245 percent increase since 2002.

Across the U.S., there was about 4 percent increase in the number of certified organic operations in the last year, and nearly a 245 percent increase since 2002.

American organic farmers and producers are at the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurship.  Organic production contributes to building a stronger rural America by creating economic opportunities for farms and businesses of all sizes. In the U.S. alone, there are now 18,513 certified USDA organic operations, representing nearly a 245 percent increase since 2002.  And there are over 25,000 certified organic operations in more than 120 different countries around the world.

Each year, the National Organic Program (NOP), part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, publishes the official list of certified operations. Through this online tool, you can search to see whether an operator is certified, find certified farms and operators in a particular state, or get a list of certified operators that produce a specific product.  The data listed in the database is also available for download in Excel format going back to 2010. Read more »

In Texas, Small Things Lead to Big Success

Anthony Micheli and daughter Scarlett stand ready to sell their vegetables at a Texas Farmers Market. The vegetables are grown on Micheli and his wife’s (Brittany Davis) niche market operation financed by an FSA Microloan.

Anthony Micheli and daughter Scarlett stand ready to sell their vegetables at a Texas Farmers Market. The vegetables are grown on Micheli and his wife’s (Brittany Davis) niche market operation financed by an FSA Microloan.

This post is part of a Microloan Success feature series on the USDA blog.  Check back every Tuesday and Thursday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

When Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hosted a town hall meeting in San Antonio, Texas, in January 2013, he shared information about USDA’s microloan program.  The program allows beginning, small and mid-sized farmers to access up to $35,000 in loans using a simplified application process.

Beginning farmers Brittany Davis and Anthony Micheli were in the audience and they were listening.  The two were inspired to meet with their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) representatives to apply for a microloan. Read more »

Minnesota Farm Uses Conservation to Make Each Acre Count

Sarah Woutat founded Uproot Farm because of her love for farming. Photo courtesy of Uproot Farm

Sarah Woutat founded Uproot Farm because of her love for farming. Photo courtesy of Uproot Farm

When studying abroad in France and Spain, Sarah Woutat developed a love for organic farming after working on farms in both countries. The love was so strong, she retired from her New York City life working for an environmental publishing business and returned to farming.

After an apprenticeship at Fort Hill Farm in Connecticut, she returned home to her native state of Minnesota to run Uproot Farm.

Uproot Farm is a small vegetable farm just one hour north of the Twin Cities. This farm turns a profit on just five acres. The farm sells community supported agriculture, or CSA, shares to people in nearby Cambridge, Minn. as well as Minneapolis. When a person buys into a CSA, they’re guaranteed a certain amount of the farm’s harvest and the farm receives financial support up front. Read more »

Teaching Kids Food Safety Tips for a Healthy Next Generation

US Department of Agriculture’s mobile Discovery Zone is a hands-on vehicle that travels the nation educating children and parents about the four main principals of home food safety – clean, separate, cook and chill.  For more information see www.fsis.usda.gov/foodsafetymobile/

US Department of Agriculture’s mobile Discovery Zone is a hands-on vehicle that travels the nation educating children and parents about the four main principals of home food safety – clean, separate, cook and chill. For more information see www.fsis.usda.gov/foodsafetymobile/

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) ensures that America’s meat, poultry, and processed egg products are safe and wholesome. Educating the public on proper food handling practices is a core agency mission as well. It’s even more important when one considers the impact safe food handling practices have on children.

With a generation of children brought up relating the word “celebrity” to chefs just as readily as they do to athletes, food safety education has a more receptive audience among teens and young adults than ever before. With the help of parents and guardians, the current generation of children could have fewer preventable cases of foodborne illness than ever before. Read more »