A woman picking apples—one of many specialty crops—grown in New England. Since the beginning of the Obama administration, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has awarded $455.5 million in Specialty Crop Block Grants to all 50 states and several U.S. territories. These grants have supported 6,138 projects that increase capacity, opportunity, and economic success for America’s specialty crop growers. Photo courtesy Alberto Romero.
Specialty crops—fruits, vegetables, nuts and nursery crops—are an agricultural and dietary staple. They’re a central part of a healthy diet and are vital to the economic success of American agriculture and to the farmers and businesses that rely on them for their livelihoods.
That’s why my agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, works to support and expand markets for specialty crop growers and producers. This year, through our Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, we awarded $62.5 million to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories to support critical work related to this segment of the agricultural industry. Read more »
Field Goods staff with the Ironwood Farm team, a women-owned farm in Columbia County.
Consumers expect a lot from local food. They want it to be fresh, healthy and raised responsibly. They want it to be affordable and convenient. And, they want their purchase to support local farmers. At first glance these goals seem at odds with each other. How can local food improve farmers’ bottom lines without being expensive? Is it possible to efficiently deliver local food to (mostly) urban consumers while still supporting (mostly) rural farm economies?
The answer may look something like Field Goods, an innovative food hub and social enterprise based in eastern New York State. Like other food hubs, Field Goods helps facilitate the connection between producer and consumer. By providing distribution and aggregation services, Field Goods helps reduce producers’ costs. And, for consumers, Field Goods delivers fresh, affordable and local products directly to workplaces – making it easier to support local producers. Read more »
Given the size and growth of the U.S. Hispanic population and its purchasing power, the Hispanic community is a key driver of the growth of U.S. consumer markets, including our organic market.
On behalf of the Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program (NOP), please join us as we continue celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month. The month-long observance, that occurs every year from September 15 through October 15, celebrates the cultures and traditions of Americans who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. At the NOP, increasing our appreciation of Hispanic cultures as well as our connections with Hispanic people are essential for our success.
There is much that we have done and continue to do in serving Hispanic stakeholders. The USDA organic regulations, as well as the National Organic Program Handbook – which contain USDA organic standards, guidance documents, policy memos and instructions – are available in Spanish. In addition, our recent Sound and Sensible initiative resources, which are helping make organic certification more accessible, attainable and affordable for small producers and processors, also include resources in Spanish. Read more »
Dado el tamaño y el crecimiento de la población hispana en los Estados Unidos y su poder adquisitivo, la comunidad hispana es un motor clave del crecimiento de los mercados nacionales de consumo, incluyendo nuestro mercado de productos orgánicos.
De parte del Programa Nacional Orgánico (NOP, por sus siglas en inglés) del Servicio de Comercialización Agrícola (AMS, por sus siglas en inglés), por favor, únase a nosotros a medida que continuamos celebrando el Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana. La observancia de un mes, realizada todos los años del 15 de septiembre al 15 de octubre, celebra las culturas y tradiciones de los estadounidenses que tienen sus raíces en España, México y países de habla hispana de América Central, América del Sur, y el Caribe. En el NOP, el aumentar nuestra apreciación de las culturas hispanas igual que nuestras conexiones con los hispanos es esencial para nuestro éxito.
Es mucho lo que hemos hecho y seguimos haciendo para servir participantes hispanos. Las regulaciones orgánicas del USDA, así como el Manual del Programa Nacional Orgánico – que contienen los estándares orgánicos, documentos de orientación, memorandos de política e instrucciones – están disponibles en español. Además, nuestra reciente iniciativa orgánica “Sound and Sensible,” que ayuda a que la certificación orgánica sea más accesible, alcanzable y asequible para pequeños productores y procesadores, también incluye recursos en español. Read more »
Kansas State University used a FSMIP grant to develop social media strategies for rural businesses to expand their customer base.
From Facebook to Snapchat, rural businesses are exploring how to use social media to improve their customer’s experience and expand their customer base. Over the last eight years, USDA and the Obama Administration have partnered with rural communities to build more opportunities that support rural small business owners, farmers and ranchers through applied research. Today USDA awarded nearly $1 million in Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) grants to support market research to strengthen markets for U.S. agricultural products domestically and internationally.
Administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), FSMIP projects make a real difference to diverse stakeholders and largely benefit rural communities. For example, in 2013, FSMIP awarded a 2-year grant to Kansas State University to develop social media strategies for small green businesses, including nurseries, garden centers and lawn care operations, and to explore the potential of social media to expand their markets and profitability. Social media holds promise as a strategy for these rural businesses which frequently have a small customer base and struggle to be profitable throughout the year, given the seasonal nature of their business. Through social media, business owners could reach more potential customers for little to no cost but they often do not know how or why they should use these tools. Read more »
Despite the overwhelming challenges faced by its members and descendants over nearly 200 years, the MBCI continues to cultivate their heritage, freedom and self-determination.
USDA invited A-dae Romero-Briones, member of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), to be a guest author for this blog. The NOSB provides critical support to the USDA and the organic community. We thank the NOSB for their commitment to the organic community, and the integrity of the organic label.
In 2012, members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI) established Choctaw Fresh Produce to help overcome employment and health challenges on their reservation. Today, by creating jobs and producing healthy foods on tribal lands, Choctaw Fresh Produce is also helping empower and transform their tribal communities.
The MBCI is a Federally-recognized Indian tribe of approximately 10,000 members that reside in eight reservation communities on 35,000 acres of trust land across ten counties in east central Mississippi. The MBCI are the descendants of the Choctaw that refused to be removed from their ancestral lands and relocated to land in what is now Oklahoma. Prior to the mass relocations known as the Trails of Tears that began in 1830, the Choctaw were dedicated to agriculture, hunting, and trade over what is now most of Mississippi. Read more »