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Category: Uncategorized

USDA Announces Winners of 2013 Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the selection of 30 university students who
will attend USDA’s 2013 Agricultural Outlook Forum. The students—who attend land-grant,
Hispanic-serving, and American Association of State Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable
Resources Institutions—have received assistance from USDA and corporate sponsors in order to
attend the Forum. The 2013 Agricultural Outlook Forum will be held Feb. 21- 22, 2013, at the
Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.

“The Outlook Forum will give these students the chance to hear from leading government and
industry voices on a broad range of topics, opening and expanding their opportunities to excel in
agriculture-related fields,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Read more »

Small Farmers Embrace New Microloan

Every year, Dustin Schlinsog walks into the Farm Service Agency office in Neillsville, Wis., to apply for a direct operating loan to support his greenhouse operation. It’s a small loan, under $35,000. Yet, he must complete 17 pages of paperwork and meet the same requirements for farm operations applying for loans of $300,000.

Not anymore.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week the start of a new microloan program to assist beginning farmers, veterans and smaller farm operations. The program is designed to provide loans under $35,000 to help launch start-ups, provide needed resources and increased equity so farmers can graduate to commercial credit and expand their operations. Read more »

USDA Announces Speakers for 2013 Agricultural Outlook Forum – Feb. 21-22

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced speakers for the 2013 Agricultural Outlook Forum, “Managing Risk in the 21st Century,” Feb. 21-22 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel, Arlington, Va. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will present the keynote address, followed by guest speaker former Senator Thomas A. Daschle, currently a senior policy advisor with DLA Piper. USDA Chief Economist Joseph Glauber will present the 2013 U.S. Economic Outlook for Agriculture. In addition, a distinguished panel of speakers for the Feb. 21 plenary session includes: Bryan T. Durkin, Chief Operating Officer, CME Group; David Baudler, President of Cargill AgHorizons; and Scott H. Irwin, Laurence J. Norton Chair of Agricultural Marketing, University of Illinois. Mike Adams, AgriTalk Radio host, will moderate the panel.

The Forum’s dinner speaker on Feb. 21 will be Adam Sieminski, Administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), addressing the “U.S. Energy Market Outlook.” Read more »

USDA Plans to ‘Turbo-Charge’ Telework Week 2013!

Last year USDA had 7,516 employees, Department-wide,  who pledged to Telework during Telework Week 2012, which resulted in more than $1 million saved in commuting costs alone.   Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration,  Oscar Gonzales, acknowledges  “USDA has high goals for widespread Telework adoption and this initiative gave many employees from smaller agencies and sub-organizations the opportunity to Telework, even if they do not regularly do so.  We pledge to once again support Telework Week and hope to increase our participation this year.”

As we count down to participate in Telework Week 2013, scheduled to take place March 4-8, 2013, now is the time to begin talking to your leadership and co-workers about your level of participation.  Eligible employees are encouraged to participate up to the entire week, and the goal is to increase the amount of Telework time you normally are accustomed to.  What better way to use this opportunity as an effective Continuity of Operations (COOP) Telework Drill for your workgroup!  Both employees and USDA alike will share in the benefits and savings of participating in a successful Telework Week at USDA. Read more »

New Vision Means Better Inspection Services for Fruits and Vegetables

U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) inspectors Geno DeSanto and Bob Schofield examine bananas at the Philadelphia Food Distribution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 21, 2008.USDA photo.

U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) inspectors Geno DeSanto and Bob Schofield examine bananas at the Philadelphia Food Distribution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 21, 2008.USDA photo.

Exceptional grading, standardization and auditing services are the benchmarks that were set by USDA’s Fresh and Processed Products Divisions.  The two organizations within USDA supported the produce industry for nearly a century, providing quality grading and auditing services that businesses and consumers could trust.

Now, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has merged the two divisions into one unit that provides the same excellent service.  The new Specialty Crops Inspection (SCI) Division offers voluntary, audit-based inspection programs – utilizing Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices (GAP/GHP).  We will also perform uniform, quality grading services based on the U.S. standards for fresh, frozen and processed products. Read more »

Organic 101: Organic Wine

This is the ninth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

According to a 2011 survey by the Organic Trade Association, organic beverages made up about 12% of total organic food sales growth. Organic wine contributed to that growth, matching pace with conventional wine purchases. So what is organic wine?

As with other USDA organic products, organic wine is made without using prohibited substances or genetic engineering (see Allowed and Prohibited Substances). It undergoes the same rigorous requirements of USDA organic certification as other products throughout its lifecycle (see Five Steps to Organic Certification). And, in addition to being overseen by the USDA National Organic Program, it has to meet the requirements of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, especially for sulfite labeling requirements. Read more »