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Category: International

Organic Trade in the Americas: Inter-American Commission for Organic Agriculture

Representatives from Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, United States, Paraguay and Argentina met in Panama City, Panama to discuss topics that included international organic trade arrangements, as well as organic production and handling.

Representatives from Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, United States, Paraguay and Argentina met in Panama City, Panama to discuss topics that included international organic trade arrangements, as well as organic production and handling.

Over the past decade, the production and market share of organic agriculture has increased globally, with significant growth in South and Central America. In 2008, the Inter-American Commission for Organic Agriculture (ICOA) was founded to support organic agriculture in the Americas and facilitate the trade of organic products. 

ICOA consists of agriculture officials from 18 member countries in Latin America and aims to harmonize organic standards, strengthen control systems and support market development in Latin America. The United States sources many organic products from Latin America including bananas, apples, pears, wine, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, coffee, mangoes, papayas, winter vegetables and more. Read more »

Grains, Trains and Global Success

Asia-bound grains, including soybeans, are commonly shipped by rail to ports in the Pacific Northwest. The cost to ship by ocean is the main driver for the choice of port for export, because inland barge transportation to the Mississippi Gulf is usually more efficient and less expensive than rail. Photo courtesy Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Asia-bound grains, including soybeans, are commonly shipped by rail to ports in the Pacific Northwest. The cost to ship by ocean is the main driver for the choice of port for export, because inland barge transportation to the Mississippi Gulf is usually more efficient and less expensive than rail. Photo courtesy Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Fall is harvest time and our rural communities are bustling with activity.  For American soybean farmers the days start in the early dawn, and they stay until the last light is gone, tending fields that seem to stretch to the end of the world.  But success for them relies on more than just growing a good crop.  Their soybeans must also move efficiently from the fields to the far corners of the world.

Helping farmers understand the importance and impact of transportation trends is one of the services provided by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).  AMS helps growers and exporters by gathering agricultural transportation data for a wide array of publications that are available to everyone on our agricultural transportation website. Read more »

Food for Progress Helps Female Farmer Forge Path to Success in Ethiopia

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden stands with dairy farm owner Ms. Yetemwork Tilahun on Tilahun’s farm near the city of Mojo, about 50 miles south of Addis Ababa, Ethopia on Aug. 28, 2014. USDA photo.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden stands with dairy farm owner Ms. Yetemwork Tilahun on Tilahun’s farm near the city of Mojo, about 50 miles south of Addis Ababa, Ethopia on Aug. 28, 2014. USDA photo.

On a recent trip to Africa, I spent time in Ethiopia witnessing how USDA’s work there is helping the country’s agricultural sector to grow and thrive, especially for women farmers.

I visited a small-scale, woman-owned dairy farm near the town of Mojo, about 50 miles south of Addis Ababa, to see how the Feed Enhancement for Ethiopian Development (FEED) project, an activity supported by USDA’s Food for Progress program, has boosted milk production through better feeding practices and farm management. Read more »

Food Insecurity Among American Households – Surveying the Numbers

USDA’s annual food security report shows that 14.3 percent of American households were food insecure in 2013. Food-insecure households lack consistent access to adequate, nutritious food. “Very low food security” is the more severe condition, with one or more household members at times reducing their food intake below normal levels.

USDA’s annual food security report shows that 14.3 percent of American households were food insecure in 2013. Food-insecure households lack consistent access to adequate, nutritious food. “Very low food security” is the more severe condition, with one or more household members at times reducing their food intake below normal levels.

USDA’s latest report on food insecurity in America shows that the prevalence of food insecurity is down from a high of 14.9 percent of U.S. households in 2011 to 14.3 percent in 2013. This annual report takes a look at the number and types of households that had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of financial or other resources. Back in 2007, about 11 percent of U.S. households were food insecure, but with the economic downturn in 2008, that rate had increased and remained relatively high.

Given improvements in employment and other economic indicators, some have wondered why food security has been slow to improve. A recent study by my colleagues and me at the Economic Research Service sheds light on this question. We found that while unemployment declined in 2012 and 2013, inflation and the price of food relative to other goods and services continued to increase. These increases offset improvements in food security that might have resulted from the decline in unemployment.  This study provides a useful backdrop to understanding trends in and causes of food insecurity. Read more »

Food Bank Partner Sign-up Competition Extended to September 15 with New “Suite” Incentive

USDA volunteers harvest food for a local food bank during a gleaning event in Clinton, MD.

USDA volunteers harvest food for a local food bank during a gleaning event in Clinton, MD.

Food banks around the country have engaged in a friendly competition all month long to get the most food donors to sign up as participants in the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, with the food bank that signs up the most donors to be honored in an event hosted by the Department of Agriculture.  We are now extending the deadline for the competition to September 15th.

If you are still on the fence, maybe the experience of one of our Challenge partners will convince you. Read more »

Creative Solutions to Ending School Food Waste

Our nation’s schools play an important role in reducing food waste. Click to enlarge.

Our nation’s schools play an important role in reducing food waste. Click to enlarge.

Americans waste enough food every day to fill a 90,000 seat football stadium. Approximately one-third of all food is wasted at the retail and consumer levels.  While research has shown that food wasted by children is similar to the rest of the U.S. population, there are many ways schools can reduce food waste and teach students about the impact it has on the environment and in their community.

At Chesterbrook Elementary School in McClean, VA, every student learns how to separate waste into categories like recyclables, food to be donated, upcycling bins, and general trash.  The school’s Eco Team, run by sixth graders, ensures their fellow students are putting waste into the correct bin. The team then collects, weighs, categorizes, and places the food to be donated into separate refrigerators, provided by the Food Bus, a non-profit organization that works with schools to donate food that would otherwise go to waste. Read more »