“Each audit is different and a unique experience—which I love, because it allows me to work with all facets of agriculture.” – Nikki Adams, USDA PVP Auditor
As an auditor for USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), I am one of a small group of highly-qualified individuals from across the country who audits companies that use our programs and services to add value to their products in the market place. One of these programs is the USDA Process Verified Program, or USDA PVP for short.
For a PVP audit, I do a significant amount of preparation before I’m even on-site, pouring over the Quality Manual the company prepared as part of their application. The Quality Manual – the starting point for any PVP – documents all of the process points, the scope of each, and the standard I am ensuring they will meet. To evaluate this effectively, I rely on my extensive training in International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) quality management system requirements and audit principles, as well as training specific to the industry, processes, and points being audited. Read more »
Thanks to the hard work of Rural Americans, along with record investments in infrastructure under the Recovery Act and the 2014 Farm Bill, over the last seven years America was able to pull itself out of one of the deepest economic recessions since the Great Depression. While we’ve seen wages rise and unemployment fall in rural areas over the last several years, workers in rural America still receive less hours and earn less pay than those in urban areas. Fortunately, for those who need help making ends meet, the Earned Income Tax Credit can help.
For the last 40 years, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has made life better for millions of workers across the United States. The average amount of EITC received by families last year was more than $2,400. These are dollars for working families and individuals that can make all the difference in helping pay for transportation, housing, school supplies or other critical needs. If your family or someone you know earned less than $53,267 from wages, running a business or farm, or from Form 1099 MISC, check out the IRS EITC website or talk to your tax preparer to determine whether you are eligible. Read more »
Farmers and producers debunk common myths around organic certification in a new Sound & Sensible video resource.
Last month, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program (NOP) announced new resources resulting from our Sound and Sensible Initiative, which is making organic certification more accessible, affordable, and attainable. Today, we are introducing more guides, videos, and other tools – all produced by our partners in the organic community. These resources help farms and businesses understand the USDA organic standards, certification process, and inspections in more depth. Read more »
Today, USDA is launching USDA Results, a progressive, year-long, multimedia storytelling effort showcasing the Administration’s work on behalf of those living, working and raising families in rural America. Each month, USDA will release a new chapter of the story at medium.com/usda-results. We encourage you to check out January’s chapter, Celebrating America’s Farmers and Ranchers: Supporting the Producers Who Ensure a Safe, Affordable, Nutritious American Food Supply, and follow along throughout 2016.
When I began my service as Secretary of Agriculture in 2009, I took the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nickname of the ‘People’s Department’—first coined by President Abraham Lincoln—to heart.
President Lincoln knew the importance of agriculture to national prosperity—particularly at a time when about half of all Americans lived on the farm. He understood the critical responsibility of USDA and government to serve and support American agriculture and the rural communities who have, since the founding of our country, helped to drive innovation and economic growth on a national scale. Read more »
When the 1994 land-grant universities began to form there was a hint that something different and special was underway. The new land-grant system would teach in a cultural context that empowered students by drawing on the strength of their peoples’ history, indigenous knowledge, and traditions. There are now 34 tribal land-grant institutions that have made great strides in their ability to serve their communities. The following blogs and publication illustrate the positive outcomes of NIFA-funded research, education, and extension programs in Indian Country.
Maple syrup collection in a sugar bush. NIFA grants support camps that allow tribal youth to experience cultural tradition while learning about plant science. (iStock image)
A sweet camp for native youth
For some Native American children, a well-loved tradition is gathering maple syrup in early spring. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Nutrition provides grants to support a unique camp where reservation youth can experience their cultural traditions while learning plant science. Camp instructors teach the youth about the science of xylem and phloem (the systems of transporting water, minerals, food, etc., throughout a plant) and why the trees produce the sugar sap. Tribal elders explain the cultural and historic significance of maples to the campers. It’s all part of a bigger initiative to promote food security in an area where grocery stores are scarce. Read more. Read more »
USDA scientists work 365 days to provide safe and sustainable food, water, and natural resources in the face of a changing climate and uncertain energy sources. To recognize the contribution that agricultural science and research makes in our daily lives, this week’s “Banner Year” series features stories from 2015 that show the successes that USDA science and statistical agencies made for us all.
Information on economic, demographic, and social developments in rural America, as well as on current and emerging opportunities for farmers is important to policy makers and other stakeholders. USDA’s Economic Research Service this year tracked and analyzed trends in rural areas, particularly employment and population. For farmers, key opportunities include new and evolving trade relations, notably the potential for trade with Cuba and the emergence of China as a major importer. Both were on ERS’s research agenda this year, as was an evolving opportunity on the domestic front – the growth in sales of locally sourced farm products.
Let’s review 5 ERS reports featured in 2015: Read more »