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USDA Grants Help Specialty Crop Industry Build Food Safety Partnerships

Young mother with baby selecting items in produce aisle of grocery store

Through a USDA-AMS grant, the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets will join Cornell University and Virginia Tech - Eastern Shore to look for ways to improve food safety practices in produce packing houses and processing facilities.

July is the height of summer grilling season and throughout the month USDA is highlighting changes made to the U.S. food safety system over the course of this Administration. For an interactive look at USDA’s work to ensure your food is safe, visit the USDA Results project on Medium.com and read Chapter Seven: Safer Food and Greater Consumer Confidence.

Its summer and specialty crops – fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and dried fruits – fill our plates with color, taste and nutrition.  Consumers are finding their favorite fresh produce in the grocery store or their farmers market.  Other specialty crops like cut flowers and nursery crops lend beauty and interest to our homes and yards. And the growers responsible for the produce are making sure it is safe through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

USDA is working closely with FDA and the specialty crop industry to help address concerns and research needs as they work to implement the produce safety rule.  One resource to help growers address food safety issues is the new Specialty Crop Multi-State Program (SCMP), administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). This grant program brings together multi-state teams to research and develop solutions to practical problems that cross State boundaries within the specialty crop industry. Read more »

Alaska Beavers Entertain Web Cam Viewers Around the World

A busy beaver gathering a tree sprig

A busy beaver gathers a tree sprig to help build his lodge on Steep Creek on Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Photo courtesy of Don Martin, Tongass National Forest

Two beavers sleep peacefully in their den on Steep Creek in Juneau, Alaska, never realizing they are being watched via a hidden infrared camera. Hundreds of viewers tune-in to a live video feed on the U.S. Forest Service YouTube Channel throughout the day to see the beavers come and go, breathing rhythmically as they nap and then stretch, chew and scratch an occasional itch.

Although the beaver cam is now an established fixture at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, it started out of simple curiosity according to Pete Schneider, a natural resource specialist for the Tongass National Forest. He and fisheries biologist Don Martin first experimented with a beaver cam in 2004 after they saw a cache of food in front of a beaver lodge on Steep Creek. It was a sure indication that beavers, who have a tendency to move around, were actually using the lodge at the time. They decided to run electricity through a conduit to that location in order to power an infrared camera. Read more »

Using Market Data to Feed the World

Consumer and Industry Outreach, Policy, Markets and Trade graphic

Science and data may hold the key to how the world will feed 9 billion people by 2050, and USDA Research and Science Action Plan will help guide the way.

In 2050, there will be about 9 billion people in the world. How do you feed 9 billion people? Clearly, we need more food, greater production, and more efficient processes, but how do we achieve that and how does that translate to success?

The answer may be found through science and data.  USDA works hard to provide good data to decision makers on the farm, in the field, at the lab and in the office place. This data includes economic information that characterizes and evaluates global market performance and keeps food and agricultural systems working smoothly.  Information includes data on crop production, farm income, food and agricultural prices, trade, nutrition, and food security. Read more »

The U.S. Food Safety System Has Come A Long Way in 50 Years

Children learning the correct temperature to cook hamburgers

In nearly eight years, the federal government has spurred a remarkable rise in consumer knowledge.

July is the height of summer grilling season and throughout the month USDA is highlighting changes made to the U.S. food safety system over the course of this Administration. For an interactive look at USDA’s work to ensure your food is safe, visit the USDA Results project on Medium.com and read Chapter Seven: Safer Food and Greater Consumer Confidence.

By the time this blog posts today, most readers will have already enjoyed at least one meal. Over their breakfast—fresh fruit, a bacon and egg sandwich, or maybe a grab-n-go energy bar—Americans were probably thinking about all the tasks that meal would fuel them to do for the day, and not whether their food could make them ill. But a strong and diligent network of public servants at the federal, state and local levels were thinking about how to protect you from foodborne illness over their breakfasts this morning, and they’re still thinking about it now. Their job day in and day out is to make sure the food on America’s tables—including yours and theirs—is safe to eat. They are the best in the world at what they do, and they’re constantly getting better.

I have proudly been a part of this team since 1978, when I accepted a job with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) as an inspector in a Dalhart, Texas beef facility. FSIS is the federal agency charged with ensuring the safety of America’s meat, poultry and processed egg supply, and we work hand in hand with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as state and local departments of health and agriculture. Over the years, I worked my way up from that entry level position in Dalhart, to managing FSIS’ Dallas District, to eventually managing the entire agency as Administrator. In my nearly 40-year career, I have seen major changes in the U.S. food safety system. Read more »

A Conversation with USDA Leader Lanon Baccam

Lanon Baccam, Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and USDA Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison

Lanon Baccam, Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and USDA Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison, helps connect veterans with opportunities in the field of agriculture.

Lanon Baccam serves as the Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS). Baccam oversees the domestic programs within FFAS, including Farm Service Agency and Risk Management Agency. Baccam also serves as the USDA Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison. Being an Army veteran, he connects veterans with opportunities in the field of agriculture, providing information to returning veterans about services available to them through USDA.

This interview took place at Arlington National Cemetery, where scores of service men and women lay at rest after giving the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country. Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Mary Safie

Mary Safie pictured with Jamie Clover Adams, Jamie Zmitko-Somers, and Allie Fox

(Right to Left) Mary Safie, owner of Safie Specialty Foods pictured with Jamie Clover Adams, Director of Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), Jamie Zmitko-Somers, MDARD’s International Marketing Program Manager of the Office of Agriculture Development and Allie Fox, MDARD’s International Marketing Assistant of the Agriculture Development Division at the 2016 National Restaurant Association in Chicago.

Every month, USDA shares the story of a woman in agriculture who is leading the industry and helping other women succeed along the way. This month, we hear from Mary Safie, owner of Safie Specialty Foods. In 1994, Mary took over her family’s canning business which began in 1929 in her grandfather’s kitchen with food grown on his farm in Chesterfield Township, Michigan. Specializing in pickled vegetables, Safie’s has experienced success domestically and abroad, with assistance from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service and State Regional Trade Groups. Read more »