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Flooding: A Checklist for Small and Very Small Meat, Poultry and Egg Inspection Processing Plants

Flooded out roads in Cass County, North Dakota.

Flooded out roads in Cass County, North Dakota.

Rivers rise. The ground is saturated. Levees fail. Floods happen, and they happen beside rivers, along the coasts, in deserts and in city streets. Flooding might be a fact of nature but that does not mean you have to lose your business and possessions to flood waters. 

It is never too early to prepare.  Because September is National Preparedness Month, it is a good time to think about emergency planning.  Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make an Emergency Communication Plan. Read more »

New Allowances for Including a “Non-GMO” Statement on Certified Organic Meat and Poultry Products

New procedures by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service allows certified organic meat and poultry producers to obtain approval of non-GMO label claims based on their organic certification.

New procedures by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service allows certified organic meat and poultry producers to obtain approval of non-GMO label claims based on their organic certification.

Organic meat and poultry producers can now use a streamlined process to get approval for labels verifying that their products do not include genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.  These products may also now use a “Non-GMO” label claim.  Because of this, we’re updating a previous blog from our “Organic 101” series.

In 2014, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) streamlined procedures for including a “non-genetically engineered” statement on the label of organic meat and poultry products.  This continues to be consistent with organic regulations, which have always prohibited the use of GE in all organic products.  Today, FSIS is adding further process improvements and labeling flexibilities, in light of recently passed legislation.  Many organic stakeholders have expressed an interest in using “Non-GMO” label claims to clearly communicate to consumers that organic products do not contain genetically engineered ingredients, and that organic animals were not fed genetically engineered feed.  Read more »

Strengthening U.S. Farm Labor through Surveys

Farmers can help ensure there is enough agricultural labor in the United States at critical times in the production cycles by taking part in the Agricultural Labor survey.

Farmers can help ensure there is enough agricultural labor in the United States at critical times in the production cycles by taking part in the Agricultural Labor survey.

Throughout the course of the year, hired labor makes planting and harvesting of America’s farmland possible. On my family’s Illinois farm, we relied on both paid and unpaid friends and family to bring in our hay.   Nearby farmers however relied on seasonal migrant labor to harvest vegetables. 

Today I’m a statistician overseeing the analyses and publication of environmental, economic and demographic data on U.S. agriculture.  In that role, my team produces data on farm labor that provides the basis for employment and wage estimates for all farm workers directly hired by U.S. farms.  It is also used by the U.S. Department of Labor to administer the H-2A agricultural guest worker program.  Read more »

An Inside Look: Anatomy of a Team Up Workshop

If you haven’t heard the buzz, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s expansion of the Team Up for School Nutrition Success  initiative is in full swing, with 20 completed trainings and 14 more scheduled for 2016. Team Up offers a unique learning experience that enhances schools’ food service operations through training and peer-to-peer mentorship to school nutrition professionals looking to maintain a healthy environment and encourage strong student meal program participation.
What exactly happens at a Team Up training? Ever had an “a-ha” or a “why didn’t I think of that” moment when a friend shares a really great idea? Team Up is where “a-ha” moments are shared among school nutrition professionals and turned into action back via their school meals programs. Let’s break down a Team Up workshop to see how these “a-ha” moments transpire. Read more »

2016 GODAN Summit: A Large Display of USG Support for Agriculture and Nutrition Open Data

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the GODAN Summit 2016

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (third from right at center table) participated in a high-level meeting at the United Nations as part of the two-day GODAN Summit 2016. The Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition initiative (GODAN) meeting was the largest ever event dedicated to open data in agriculture and nutrition, convening over 750 attendees including world leaders, researchers, farmers, students and others – public, private and non-profit - united around a collaboration on agriculture and nutrition data openness. Photo credit: Perry Bindeglass

Open agriculture and nutrition data is a powerful tool for long-term sustainable development.  The Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative – comprising more than 350 international organizations representing governments, donors, businesses, and not-for-profits – continues to be a leader in advocating for the adoption of open data policies.  GODAN’s focus on opening agriculture and nutrition data as a mechanism to support sustainable development has the potential to solve longstanding global food security challenges.

As a founding partner of GODAN, the United States Government (USG) has implemented policy to support the creation of open data resources and provided technical support to make open data work for agriculture and nutrition—through the release of open data sets, through the development of standards that allow different types of data sets to be integrated with one another, and through the creation of new databases to house open data.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has served as the U.S. Government lead on the GODAN initiative since its creation in 2013, and has been highly involved in open data efforts. Read more »

Be a Fire Wise know it all

 

Get Ready, Be Prepared, Be Firewise

Get Ready, Be Prepared, Be Firewise

You’ve heard this from us during previous fire seasons, and you’ll continue to hear it from us every fire season: You can never be Fire Wise enough. And, with this being National Preparedness Month, you’re going to hear it a lot. 

The theme this year for National Preparedness Month is “Don’t Wait, Communicate.  Make your Emergency Plan Today”. This straight forward theme makes it very clear that planning is crucial to protect yourself, your loved ones and your property against wildfire. Read more »