This is the thirteenth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.
The use of genetic engineering, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is prohibited in organic products. This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients. To meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances, such as GMOs, from farm to table.
Organic operations implement preventive practices based on site-specific risk factors, such as neighboring conventional farms or shared farm equipment or processing facilities. For example, some farmers plant their seeds early or late to avoid organic and GMO crops flowering at the same time (which can cause cross-pollination). Others harvest crops prior to flowering or sign cooperative agreements with neighboring farms to avoid planting GMO crops next to organic ones. Farmers also designate the edges of their land as a buffer zone where the land is managed organically, but the crops aren’t sold as organic. Any shared farm or processing equipment must be thoroughly cleaned to prevent unintended exposure to GMOs or prohibited substances. Read more »
A farmer’s market patron enjoys orange samples and talks to the booth vendor at a San Francisco area market. The new Farmers Market API released by AMS will give app developers and designers an easier way to leverage the wealth of information in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory. Photo by Gary Yost.
America is developing quite an app-etite. The number of U.S. smartphone owners is approaching 130 million, resulting in more and more demand for mobile access to our information. Combine that with the increase in consumers wanting access to fresh, local products, and it’s obvious why there’s such a high demand for the data in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory. Read more »
USDA is taking a multi-faceted approach to supporting the American sheep and lamb industry, working with researchers and market analysts to identify strategies and goals.
The U.S. sheep and lamb industry has been shrinking for decades as the numbers of sheep and producers have declined since World War II. Consolidation of the sheep packing industry, higher feed and energy costs, continuous loses to predation, and lower consumption, coupled with competition from imports of lamb cuts, have taken their toll on U.S. producers. In response to industry needs, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has been working with the American Lamb Board (ALB) and the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) on initiatives aimed at ensuring the long-term viability of the industry. Read more »
Real Food Farms used EPA’s Brownfields Program to reclaim 6 acres in downtown Baltimore. Once the land was ready for production, Real Food Farms accessed USDA funds to build a greenhouse. Now, the farm grows food for the neighboring communities. Photo by MD Department of Agriculture
In Waterbury, Connecticut, vacant lots are becoming community greenhouses – growing jobs and growing food. Roanoke, Virginia is planning to build raised beds in empty lots to become community gardens that increase healthy food access. In Missoula, Montana, asbestos abatement is allowing a local food coop to expand its footprint to include a café and community kitchen and to increase their capacity to work with local farmers and schools. Read more »
Learn about some Cinco de Mayo staples by exploring our infographic (click for larger version).
Cinco de Mayo is more than a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. With its American roots planted during the Civil War, the fifth of May is also a celebration of freedom and victory over odds. Over the years the holiday has become more mainstream, with celebrations that bring together music, art and cuisine shaped by the rich culture and international influences of Mexico and Latin America. Read more »
PACA is your partner in the produce industry. Through its education, mediation licensing, and enforcement services, PACA provides financial protection for produce businesses.
Accurate and timely information, access to new markets, and financial protection are critical to the success of any business. In the produce industry, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) provides services to cover all three of these items.
By providing current price and volume information, AMS Market News helps produce businesses, transportation companies, and others make informed decisions. In response to user requests, we created the Custom Average Tool (CAT). This new tool makes it easy to view average price trends over a period of time, select a range of data desired, download data in a spreadsheet, and much more. Choosing which varieties or products to carry and what the price levels might be at a given time of year are easier for a wholesaler to determine when they can easily visualize average price trends compared to movement in a dashboard. The CAT is now prominently displayed on our Fruit and Vegetable Market News Portal. Read more »