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Know Your Farmer, Help a Refugee, Meet a Neighbor

Somali Bantu farmers at Intervale Center in Vermont. The Refugee Agriculture Partnership Program (RAPP) helps refugee farmers earn viable incomes through agriculture, by providing grants to support organizations and training in topics like business practices, pest control, land financing, and selling to restaurants and farmers markets.

Somali Bantu farmers at Intervale Center in Vermont. The Refugee Agriculture Partnership Program (RAPP) helps refugee farmers earn viable incomes through agriculture, by providing grants to support organizations and training in topics like business practices, pest control, land financing, and selling to restaurants and farmers markets.

What does USDA have to do with supporting refugees? What do refugees contribute to our food systems here in the United States? The answers become clear when you look at a unique partnership between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program (RAPP), USDA, and Agricultural Extension agents. Read more »

Know Your Supply Chain? New Research explains how local food gets from the farm to your table

The December 2010 issue of USDA's Amber Waves describes recent research on local food supply chains. Researchers sponsored by ERS studied several food supply chains around the country, looking at how the size, structure, and performance of local supply chains compare to mainstream supply chains.

Most people who are interested in local food know that farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) are great ways to buy products from local farms and vendors. But are there other ways that local food moves from producers to consumers? It turns out that a great variety of food supply chains are capable of delivering locally produced foods to consumers. Studying these supply chains offers an interesting peek into the future of local foods in the United States. Read more »

HUD Sustainable Communities Grants Support Local Food Systems

The Obama Administration’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities initiative is led by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency with participation by USDA and other agencies. The map shown here illustrates the geographic reach of several HUD and DOT programs that are included in the Partnership.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently awarded $40 million in Sustainable Community Challenge Grants to help support local planning designed to integrate affordable housing, good jobs and public transportation.  These grants are designed to foster reform and reduce barriers to achieving affordable, economically vital and sustainable communities. The funds will be used by communities, large and small, to address local challenges to integrating transportation and housing. Read more »

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Art Contest Yields Beautiful Harvest

Steve Tava’s piece will be displayed in the Farm Service Agency Hawaii State Office in Honolulu.

As part of its approach to community outreach, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) American Samoa office sponsored a week-long effort to catalyze high school students and the public to think about pursuing a career in agriculture.

American Samoa consists of 7 islands and is 77 square miles, an area just slightly larger than Washington, D.C.  Due to the limited land area, traditional farming depends largely on “interspersed” farming of taro planted among banana crops, although local production is diversifying toward modern hydroponic operations. Read more »

Hoop House Hoopla

Sometimes those of us in Washington DC take ourselves too seriously.  I’ve fallen into that trap more than once.  So, when it came time to shoot our video on the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) hoop house offering, launched last year as part of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, we decided to have some fun.  On a beautiful late November day, I joined White House chef Sam Kass to put small hoops over the garden beds at the First Lady’s garden.  This video captures the fun we had.

Dan Glickman, former Secretary of Agriculture, has always placed high value on humor.  Writing last August in the Wichita Eagle, he wrote:

One of the most underestimated tools in politics, leadership and life is a sense of humor — the ability to laugh not just at others but at ourselves. More than ever, we need humor’s deflationary influence in the nation’s capital. It’s an essential release valve, a check on all the overheated rhetoric and a bridge to real dialogue.

Mark Twain got it right when he said, “against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

Humor alone can’t solve our problems. But it can open the door to greater civility, a little more humanity and some much-needed productivity in our nation’s governance.

USDA Market News – the Eyes and Ears of American Agriculture

Since 1915, the Market Reporters of USDA have tracked and reported the markets for agricultural products on a daily basis, both domestically and internationally.  With hundreds of daily reports, Market News provides timely, reliable and unbiased information that helps facilitate the efficient marketing of agricultural commodities and helps to “level the playing field” by ensuring that all market participants have access to the same information at the same time.  The motto of Market News is: “Get it, Get it Right, Get it Out.”

USDA reports markets for fruits and vegetables, livestock and grain, poultry and egg products, dairy, and cotton and tobacco.  Reports cover sales at various levels in the marketplace, movement or shipments of product, and other key market factors such as demand and other impacts on the market at that moment in time.  Market reports issued by USDA are frequently relied upon for value determination in a wide range of applications.  These include price setting at the farm or nearby locations, dispute resolution, insurance settlements, loan appraisal, and as the basis in many contracts. Read more »