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Research Shows that Farm to School Works!

An elementary school student in West New York, New Jersey, enjoying a farm fresh bite of yellow tomato

An elementary school student in West New York, New Jersey, enjoys a farm fresh bite of yellow tomato, delivered to the school that morning.

Happy National Farm to School Month! Every October, the USDA Farm to School team is overwhelmed with stories of how farm to school programs are affecting kids, producers, and communities. Having now made 221 grants to school districts and other entities across the country to pursue projects that bring more local foods into schools and teach kids about where their foods comes from, we experience a steady stream of encouraging stories throughout the year. Stories about local farmers proudly supplying grains for a district’s whole grain baked goods; stories about school food service staff dressing up like fruits and vegetables to encourage healthy eating; stories about kids growing beets in the school garden and then devouring them when they show up in the cafeteria. During Farm to School Month, these anecdotes proliferate–on social media, on blogs, and via news stories. They inspire us, amuse us, and sometimes even make us tear up, but they don’t unequivocally prove that these programs work. For that, we rely on studies and surveys, on journal articles and evaluation results. Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Ann Veneman

Ann M. Veneman, 27th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Ann M. Veneman served as the 27th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2001-2005.

As part of our Women’s Week blog series, Ann Veneman shares her perspective as the first and only woman who has held the title of Secretary of Agriculture. A lawyer by training, Ann grew up in a small rural community in California and has dedicated her career to domestic and international food and agriculture issues. During her tenure as Secretary, American agriculture saw record farm income, record agricultural exports and the creation of stronger pest and disease protection systems for the country.

Ann has held various positions at USDA and in state government, including Deputy Secretary, Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs, Associate Administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service, and Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. She served as the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) from 2005-2010 and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, The Trilateral Commission, the National 4-H Council Board of Trustees and serves as an advisor to the Bipartisan Policy Center. In 2009, Ann was named to Forbes Magazine’s List of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. Read more »

Events Highlight the Impact of Rabies on People, Pets and Wildlife

Rabies in the Americas Logo

USDA is honored to host the 26th Rabies in the Americas conference in Fort Collin, Colorado, beginning Sunday, Oct. 4.

What do raccoons, vampire bats, and mongooses have in common? All are wildlife species that are commonly associated with rabies and can potentially expose people, pets and livestock to the deadly virus.  

The significant impact of rabies on public and animal health will be the focus of the 26th Rabies in the Americas conference in Fort Collin, Colorado, on October 4-8.  This is the first time this important international conference will be held in Colorado and be hosted by APHIS, according to Richard Chipman, coordinator for APHIS-Wildlife Services’ (WS) National Rabies Management Program. Read more »

GroupGAP: Food Safety Assurance for Growers and Buyers Big and Small

Two women inside a high tunnel talking

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Specialty Crops Inspection Division (SCI) performs GAP audits, which are voluntary, third-party services that verify that farms are following industry-recognized food safety practices and recommendations from the FDA. Photo courtesy of Iowa Food Hub.

In the produce industry, food safety is front and center on everyone’s mind. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released some of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) final rules, and retailers are looking to buy from FSMA-compliant suppliers. If you’re a retailer or large produce buyer, there is exciting news about a program that verifies that suppliers are meeting your food safety requirements. After three years of successful trials, USDA recently previewed our plans to expand the GroupGap Pilot Program.

Many producers are aware of “Good Agricultural Practices,” or GAP audits. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Specialty Crops Inspection Division (SCI) performs GAP audits, which are voluntary, third-party services that verify that farms are following industry-recognized food safety practices and recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Anita Adalja

Anita Adalja with carrots

Anita Adalja, a social worker by training, merged her career with farming to help her local community come up with healthy food access solutions.

Today in our Women’s Week blog series, we speak with Anita Adalja, the Farm Manager at Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture. A social worker who merged her career with farming, Anita is committed to food access solutions, community building and sustainable land stewardship.

Arcadia is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a more equitable and sustainable local food system in the Washington, DC area. Read more »

USDA is Making Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing Possible through STEM and Collaboration

Today, USDA will engage with citizen-science professionals, researchers, and stakeholders from local, state, Federal, and Tribal governments, as well as representatives of the academic, non-profits, and private sector to celebrate citizen science at the first-ever White House citizen science forum on “Open Science and Innovation: Of the People, By the People, For the People” – co-hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Domestic Policy Council. The forum will raise awareness of citizen science and crowdsourcing as innovative approaches that can be used to solve complex real-world problems and encourage more Americans to take advantage of them. For example, Dr. Ann Bartuska, Deputy Under Secretary of USDA’s Research, Education and Economics mission area, is moderating a panel discussion on citizen science in areas related to water and agriculture. Read more »