Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

USDA Process Verified Program: Transparency from Farm to Market

An infographic highlighting example process points and the steps taken to create a Process Verified Program

An infographic highlighting example process points and the steps taken to create a Process Verified Program. Click for a larger version.

Product labeling is a contract of trust between consumers and producers.  This is especially true for the foods we eat and the companies that sell them.  The responsibility of regulating and monitoring food labels is shared between many federal agencies including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA, and we recognize that there must be transparency and accountability before there can be public trust and understanding of product labels.

While my own agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), does not approve many product labels directly, we do provide a service where AMS auditors provide an objective, third-party verification on any food product that a company’s labeling claims are backed by plain language standards.  Transparency and accountability are the cornerstones of this service, and we are continuously working to improve both for all of our auditing programs, with our most recent efforts focusing on USDA’s Process Verified Program (PVP). Read more »

High Tunnel Addition Helps Urban Farmer Feed Portland

Stacey Givens, The Side Yard Farm and Kitchen in Portland, Oregon

Stacey Givens, The Side Yard Farm and Kitchen in Portland, Oregon.

Portland has become one of the top cities in the nation for its food scene—from trendy neighborhood food carts to fine dining to farm-to-table restaurants. It’s also a place where people embrace eating locally-grown food. Like, seriously, uber-local. That’s why urban farmers like Stacey Givens are making such an impact on Portland’s appetite.

“I was drawn to Portland because of the food scene, and the restaurant and farming scene,” Stacey says.

She owns a unique operation in the northeast Cully neighborhood called The Side Yard Farm and Kitchen. It’s an urban farm with three separate lots (all within one mile from each other), a supper and brunch club and a catering company. Read more »

Five Things You Should Know About USDA Climate Hubs In 2015

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Agricultural Research Service (ARS) supervisory plant physiologist Dr. Jerry Hatfield discuss gathering information on climate changes and impacts.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Agricultural Research Service (ARS) supervisory plant physiologist Dr. Jerry Hatfield discuss gathering information on climate changes and impacts.

In October the Regional Hub Leads gathered in Washington D.C. to discuss their successes and challenges over the last year. Tasked with producing science-based, region-specific information and tools for their stakeholders, the USDA Regional Climate Hubs spent 2014 working hard to ensure they understood who their constituents where, building regional partnerships, and identifying regional needs before rolling up their sleeves in 2015 to start producing results. Read more »

Library Garden Provides ‘Rest Stop’ for Monarch Butterflies

The pollinator garden

After one year, the pollinator garden has grown exponentially, feeding multiple species of pollinators and creating an outdoor classroom. NRCS photo by Ellen Starr.

The pollinator garden at our library in Princeton, Ill. is a popular rest stop for monarch butterflies on their cross-continental journey. My agency, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), worked with local partners and businesses to create a 2,400-square-foot pollinator garden as a way to educate the public and provide needed pollinator habitat.

We planted the garden designed by our landscape architect Vicki Morrical in 2014. It features 28 plant species and more than 700 plants. Signs help visitors identify the different plants. Read more »

FSA Partnership Helps New Farmer Connect to the Land

Maria Moreira (left), executive director of World Farmers and Flat Mentor Farm, with Sangiwa Eliamani

Maria Moreira (left), executive director of World Farmers and Flat Mentor Farm, partnered with FSA to help Sangiwa Eliamani build his farming operation.

Growing up in Tanzania, East Africa, Sangiwa Eliamani became a skilled farmer producing rice, millet and cotton throughout the year, using typical hand tools. He had no concerns about seasonal timing or finding markets for his crops, until he moved to the United States and attempted to farm in Massachusetts.

“Over there [in Tanzania] it’s very different,” he said. “We don’t have this limited time to grow.  We have easier access to land and markets to sell our products.” Read more »

Five Conservation Stories from 2015 You Should Read

2015 was a banner year for voluntary conservation efforts in the United States.  Whether protecting the farmlands, grasslands and wetlands with partnership efforts and conservation easements, helping new farmers get started with conservation on smaller scale farms or providing conservation solutions for organic, transitioning-to-organic and conventional farms or ranches across the country, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service celebrates the voluntary, private-lands conservation efforts of the partners, farmers and ranchers. Together they represent some of the strongest stewards of the American landscape. Here are five 2015 stories that highlight a big year for conservation: Read more »