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Building Organic Partnerships: Sound and Sensible Certification Projects

Amy's Organic Garden in Charles City, VA.  Organic certification ensures the integrity of organic products around the world, and this initiative will make sure the process is accessible, attainable and affordable for all.

Amy's Organic Garden in Charles City, VA. Organic certification ensures the integrity of organic products around the world, and this initiative will make sure the process is accessible, attainable and affordable for all.

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

Making organic certification accessible, attainable, and affordable involves collaboration with many partners across the country and around the globe. To advance this work, USDA supports a diverse community of organic stakeholders.

Nonprofits, businesses, universities, state governments and other organizations lead a range of technical assistance, training, outreach and certification programs for organic farms and businesses.  These organizations provide the National Organic Program (NOP), part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), with valuable feedback about how to keep organic certification sound and sensible and how to meet the needs of new and transitioning organic farmers. To support their work, USDA is awarding project contracts to 13 organizations that will advance the NOP’s Sound and Sensible initiative by identifying and removing barriers to certification and streamlining the certification process. Read more »

Painting Utah Agriculture by the Numbers

Utah farms and ranches occupy 10.97 million acres of land and Utah farmers sold more than $1.8 billion worth of agricultural products in 2012. Check back next Thursday for another state spotlight.

Utah farms and ranches occupy 10.97 million acres of land and Utah farmers sold more than $1.8 billion worth of agricultural products in 2012. Check back next Thursday for another state spotlight.

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

Utah agriculture is varied and prevalent across the state. The 2012 Census of Agriculture showed that our farms and ranches occupy 10.97 million acres of land, or more than a fifth of the total land in Utah.

In 2012, our state’s farmers sold more than $1.8 billion worth of agricultural products, with one-third in crop sales and two-thirds in livestock and poultry and their products. In contrast to sales, farm and ranch expenses totaled almost $1.6 billion with feed and labor being the two highest expenditures.  According to a survey done by Utah State University in 2012, when multiplier effects are included, agricultural processing and production account for $17.5 billion in total economic output in our state. Read more »

How Do YOU Prepare for Disaster? Tune in Monday, Sept. 8 with #NatlPrep!

September is National Preparedness Month. And as disasters continue to affect regions across America each year, USDA will participate in this year’s America’s PrepareAthon! to discuss how USDA can help you prepare your home, your family and your community for when disaster strikes.

Our goal during National Preparedness Month is to help you prepare through a variety of activities. Read more »

Conservation Tools Help ‘Pick-Your-Own’ Farm Thrive

Wade Butler talks about how drip irrigation system benefits black raspberries on his farm.

Wade Butler talks about how drip irrigation system benefits black raspberries on his farm.

A farmer’s field is dotted with people busily picking blueberries off bushes and loading them into large red buckets. But they’re not at work. They’re picking for their own pantries.

Butler’s Orchard, located near Washington, D.C. in Germantown, Maryland, is a 300-acre family-owned farm that grows more than 180 crops including 25 different kinds of vegetables, fruits and flowers. For the past 60 years, this farm has opened its rows and orchards for people to pick their own. Read more »

NRCS Assistance Helps Local Food Pantry Provide Year-Round Produce for Low-Income Families

The Share the Harvest Food Pantry uses a seasonal high tunnel to grow fresh fruits and vegetables for people in need.

The Share the Harvest Food Pantry uses a seasonal high tunnel to grow fresh fruits and vegetables for people in need.

For the past several years, USDA has been making a concerted effort to increase consumer awareness of food origins. That’s an easy task in Greenview, Missouri, where patrons of the Share the Harvest Food Pantry need only look in the parking lot to see where their fresh produce comes from.

Practically right outside of the front door of the food pantry is a 72-foot-by-30-foot seasonal high tunnel purchased and constructed with financial assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Judy Wimmer, food pantry director, said the pantry had been using raised beds and another nearby garden spot to grow summer vegetables to distribute to low-income families. Read more »

Food Safety 101 Webinar Series: Bringing Food Safety To Your Kitchen

Food poisoning is a serious public health threat. CDC estimates that approximately 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) could suffer from food poisoning illness this year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. This September, to celebrate Food Safety Education Month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) will help get the word out about important safety tips and tools to combat foodborne illness by hosting a free two-part webinar series: “Food Safety 101”. The series will be hosted by FSIS’ Food Safety Education Staff, and will feature speakers from the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, FSIS’ Office of Public Health Science, Kansas State University, and the International Food Information Council.

The webinars will emphasize USDA’s four steps to food safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill and offer a unique opportunity to hear from FSIS’s educators, researchers and partners. “Back to Basics”, the first webinar in this series, will occur on September 10th from noon to 1:30 pm EST and cover basic food safety tasks and the risks that can be avoided with proper food safety practices. “Everyday Application” will occur a week later on September 17th from noon to 1:30 pm EST. Participants of the second webinar will be able to identify common kitchen food safety blunders, and alternatives to keep your family foodborne illness free. Read more »