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Category: Uncategorized

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 »

Secretary’s Column: Looking Ahead to 2013

In recent days, Congressional leaders came together with an agreement to provide middle class tax relief and extend protection for two million unemployed Americans.

This agreement provides some relief for all of us who are frustrated with the gridlock that often dominates Washington. It is also good news for the 98 percent of American families and 97 percent of small businesses who were protected from a tax increase.

At the same time, I am disappointed that Congress was unable to pass a multi-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. Congress did extend some 2008 Farm Bill programs that will prevent a spike in the price of dairy and other commodities. However, the extension fails to provide any of the long-term certainty that we know is vital for rural America. Read more »

USDA Announces Effort to Enhance Department Efficiency, Improve Access to Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is asking the public for comment as it continues to review existing program rules to determine whether any should be modified, streamlined, clarified, or repealed.  The Department is particularly interested in hearing from the public concerning areas where USDA can simplify and reduce the reporting burden for entry and access to USDA programs, while reducing its administrative and operating costs by sharing data across participating agencies.

In response to Executive Order 13610 (Identifying and Reducing Regulatory Burdens), USDA has incorporated various initiatives into its review to reduce burden on the public, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS), Conservation Delivery Streamlining Initiative, which has the potential to reduce administrative time for clients participating in NRCS’ conservation programs, and FSA’s streamlined version of a current form for use by repeat customers whose information has not changed. Read more »

A Word about the Importance of Work/Life from Deputy Secretary Merrigan

Last month, Hurricane Sandy prevented Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan from addressing USDA employees and guests at the Open House planned for National Work & Family Month.  However, she wanted to be sure to take the time to emphasize the importance of USDA’s Work/Life & Wellness programs and what they mean for employees, supervisors and managers at the Department. Read more »

USDA’s 2013 Agricultural Outlook Forum – Feb. 21-22, 2013

USDA’s 2013 Agricultural Outlook Forum, “Managing Risk in the 21st Century,” will be held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, on Feb. 21-23.  Speakers will include USDA policymakers and 85 distinguished experts in the fields of international trade, insurance, forestry, conservation, risk management, transportation, energy, nutrition, local foods, and food safety. The Forum continues to feature the traditional USDA commodity supply and demand and food price outlooks. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: A Thank You to America’s Veterans

Americans will soon come together on Veterans Day to honor our nation’s returned service members, including more than 22 million living American veterans.

For generations, American service members across every branch of our military have made tremendous sacrifices to defend our freedom and liberty.   This weekend, it’s important that all of us take time to remember their service.

In particular, earlier this year, President Obama honored our Vietnam-era veterans when he proclaimed a 13-year period – May 28, 2012, through Nov. 11, 2025 – as the “Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.”  This gives all of us a special opportunity to recognize these veterans, who too often were not properly thanked when they came home. Read more »