This fish tank is located in Honolulu, HI at the President William McKinley High School, and illustrates the cleanliness of water in an aquaponics/aquaculture system. For aquaponics, when the system is properly balanced, the water can be maintained at maximum clarity. Photo courtesy of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
If you’re wondering what aquaponics is, you’re not alone. Tracing its roots back to the Aztecs and rice cultivation in South China, aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics – growing fish and plants together in a symbiotic system. Basically, the plants keep the water clean for the fish to grow, and the fish fertilize the plants. Both help the other to survive and thrive.
A wide variety of foods—lettuce, beans, broccoli, cucumbers, peas, herbs, strawberries, melons, and tomatoes, for example—all flourish through aquaponics farming. Read more »
In response to a recent report about chicken served in the National School Lunch Program, I wanted to provide some clarification. Food safety is one of our highest priorities, and USDA is committed to ensuring that food served through the National School Lunch Program is both healthy and safe.
Schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program receive some of their foods through the USDA, and the rest is purchased on the commercial market. USDA is only involved in the purchases that are made through our program, and all of the food provided through USDA is 100 percent domestically grown and produced. Read more »
On August 30th, FSIS announced the results of our verification audit of China’s poultry processing inspection system, which reaffirmed the equivalence of China’s poultry processing system. This determination was made after a long and careful review by our expert auditors to ensure that China’s system for processed poultry meets the United States’ safety standards. FSIS’ core mission is food safety and our staff works hard and diligently to ensure that the U.S. food supply remains safe. Since the announcement of the audit results, our agency has received several inquires regarding this determination so I want to take the time to explain this process and clarify any misperceptions.
Let me start with explaining what this “equivalence” determination means. If a country wants to export FSIS regulated product to the United States, as a regulatory agency, we are required to review this request and conduct an audit to determine if their food safety system meets U.S. standards. The process for determining China’s equivalence began in 2004, when China submitted a formal request to FSIS that the agency evaluate China’s poultry system to assess it equivalence and thus its eligibility to export poultry products to the United States. After an extensive audit, FSIS granted China “equivalence” for processed poultry in 2006 which meant that China was eligible to export cooked chicken to the U.S. as long as the raw poultry was from an approved source. FSIS began rulemaking and published a final rule in the Federal Register, adding China to the list of countries eligible to export cooked poultry to the United States. However, the 2008 appropriations bill prohibited FSIS from using funding to implement the final rule that allowed China to export processed chicken. In 2010, the appropriations ban was lifted and China submitted a new request for an equivalence audit. Read more »
Nelson Foster inspecting cages used to test the effectiveness of different baits used to suppress grasshoppers.
Grasshoppers and Mormon crickets of the West beware: R. Nelson Foster, of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, is roaming the rangelands looking for you, and when he finds you, he’ll stop your feeding frenzy right in its tracks.
Foster serves as Assistant Laboratory Director at APHIS’ Center for Plant Health Science and Technology in Phoenix, Arizona. For over forty years, he has worked in the lab and in the field conducting groundbreaking research mainly on grasshoppers and similar insects such as Mormon crickets. Read more »
With its rapidly developing economy and expanding middle class, Turkey has become an important market for U.S. food and agricultural products over the past decade. It’s also the destination of the latest USDA agricultural trade mission from June 10-14 as Acting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse leads a U.S. delegation to promote U.S. agricultural exports.
Representatives from six state departments of agriculture and 20 U.S. companies will attend. During the mission, the delegation will travel to Istanbul and Ankara to learn about market conditions and regulations to help U.S. companies develop export strategies for Turkey. They’ll visit retail locations and tour various facilities including a U.S. hardwood importer. Read more »
2009-2012 stand as the strongest four years for agricultural exports in history.
Today, the American brand of agriculture is surging in popularity worldwide. Fiscal years 2009-2012 represent the strongest four years in history for agricultural trade, with U.S. agricultural product exports exceeding $478 billion over these four years. Overall, American agriculture supports 1 in 12 jobs in the United States and provides American consumers with 83 percent of the food we consume, while maintaining affordability and choice. And 2013 is off to a roaring start already – with agricultural exports on track to set a new record.
Just last week, USDA announced three initiatives that expand export opportunities and reduce barriers to trade. These announcements support President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double all U.S. exports by the end of 2014, as well as underscore USDA’s commitment to a strong and resilient agricultural economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth nationwide. Read more »