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Helping Organics Grow with Clear Livestock and Poultry Standards

Proposed Rule Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices infographic

USDA has proposed changes to ensure consumer confidence in the growing organic market by promoting consistency across the organic industry, supporting the continued growth of the organic livestock and poultry sector. Click to enlarge.

The mission of the National Organic Program, part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is to protect the integrity of USDA organic products in our country and throughout the world. This means clearly defining what it means to be organic and enforcing those rules.  Consumers look for and trust the organic seal because they know that USDA stands behind the standards that it represents.

Today, USDA is taking action by announcing that we will soon publish and invite public comment on a proposed rule regarding organic livestock and poultry practices.  It’s an important step that will strengthen consumer confidence in the label and ensure that organic agriculture continues to provide economic opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and businesses around the country. Read more »

Chinese Cultural History in the American West Put in Spotlight by Forest Service, Partners

Current range permittee Lynn Sanguinetti and Fred Wong, U.S. Forest Service district ranger, stand in front of a cabin

Current range permittee Lynn Sanguinetti and Fred Wong, U.S. Forest Service district ranger, stand in front of a cabin once used by Chinese cowboys in 1907. The cabin is on the Stanislaus National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service)

The often-forgotten footprints of Chinese immigrant laborers cover the floor of America’s national forests, railroads and mines. These laborers left behind physical and cultural remnants of the past woven into the fabric of our country.

The U.S. Forest Service is partnering with The Chinese American Historical Society and others to ensure the legacy of these early American immigrants is long remembered. The partnership is working on a website scheduled to launch in April 2016 that will highlight more than 50 Chinese heritage sites with self-guided tour information for destinations in California and Nevada. The partnership goal is to schedule guided tours during the summer of 2016 in both states. Read more »

For Ethiopian Schoolchildren, McGovern-Dole Helps Mitigate Effects of Devastating Drought

A parent volunteer using USDA-supplied corn-soy blend to prepare a nutritious porridge

A parent volunteer uses USDA-supplied corn-soy blend to prepare a nutritious porridge for school children in eastern Ethiopia.

With Ethiopia facing its most devastating drought in decades, a school feeding project supported by the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program is providing sustenance to vulnerable children and families in some of the country’s hardest-hit areas.

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) are partnering to provide meals to 263,000 children in the Afar and Somali regions of eastern Ethiopia. As the only international donors offering school feeding in those areas, FAS and WFP are currently serving an estimated 20 percent of all Afar and Somali schoolchildren. Read more »

Earth Team Volunteers and People’s Garden Benefit a Nevada Community

Monique Renteria and Sam Antipa assisting the One World Children’s Academy pre-kindergarten class plant seeds

Monique and Sam assisting the One World Children’s Academy pre-kindergarten class plant seeds.

“This partnership couldn’t have worked out any better,” said Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology (AACT) Agriculture Teacher Michelle Burrows.

As part of a senior project to put their agricultural and leadership skills into practice, Earth Team volunteers Samantha (Sam) Antipa and Monique Renteria assist in the People’s Garden of Truckee Meadows. The seniors’ work is helping to grow healthy food and improve their community in Reno, Nevada. Read more »

Reduce Food Waste? Challenge Accepted!

Administrator Starmer and AMS Market News reporter, Holly Mozal, visiting Coosemans, D.C.

Administrator Starmer and AMS Market News reporter, Holly Mozal, visit Coosemans, D.C. Coosemans is a wholesale supplier of fresh herbs and specialty produce to chain stores and food service distributors.

Since USDA launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge in 2013, leaders and organizations across the food chain have committed to reducing, recovering, and recycling food loss and waste.  Last week, I joined our newest partners in this effort at the Jessup Terminal Market to launch their own friendly competition, the Terminal Market U.S. Food Waste Challenge.

The National Association of Produce Market Managers (NAPMM) organized the competition and is leading the charge to reduce food waste at produce terminal markets, which are endpoints within the wholesale supply chain where fruits and vegetables are bought and sold for retail use.  Because they act as hubs for large quantities of perishable foods, these markets provide a big opportunity to prevent food waste and can play a key role in reaching the first U. S. national food waste reduction goal:  a 50 percent reduction in food waste by year 2030. Read more »

Developing New Leaders in a Global Landscape

Florida A&M University students

Florida A&M University students participated in a program in South Africa to improve that country’s agricultural performance in table grapes. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Paul)

Historically black colleges and universities, particularly the “1890 land-grant universities (LGUs),” have conducted groundbreaking studies to further advance agricultural research in this country, such as eradicating peanut allergens and food borne illnesses.  Now, they’re making significant impacts abroad by strengthening U.S. global outreach in agribusiness.

In summers of 2011 to 2015, Florida A&M University (FAMU) students, in collaboration with University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), took part in an 18-day program in South Africa to improve that country’s agricultural performance in table grape and aquaculture production and educational value chains.  The trip was supported by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), through its 1890 Capacity Building Program, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Farmer-to-Farmer Program. Read more »