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Posts tagged: Industry Insight

Get the Inside Scoop on our Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Onions and other crops being grown on Zenger Farm. The non-profit that runs the farm, Friends of Zenger Farm, was awarded a grant through the state of Oregon this fall for an initiative that aims to increase the number of community farms accepting SNAP.  Photo by Theo Elliot.

Onions and other crops being grown on Zenger Farm. The non-profit that runs the farm, Friends of Zenger Farm, was awarded a grant through the state of Oregon this fall for an initiative that aims to increase the number of community farms accepting SNAP. Photo by Theo Elliot.

As part of our continuing education efforts, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is pleased to announce the next installment of our webinar series. This episode is designed for people interested in applying for grants offered through local state departments of agriculture for our Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Read more »

National Organic Program Reexamines Strategies

The USDA Organic seal.  To support their mission to ensure the integrity of products carrying the seal, National Organic Program has reexamined its priorities and refreshed its strategic plan.

The USDA Organic seal. To support their mission to ensure the integrity of products carrying the seal, National Organic Program has reexamined its priorities and refreshed its strategic plan.

Positive brand recognition—having a brand the buyer can trust—is the cornerstone of marketing success.  The same applies to USDA and, more specifically, the USDA organic seal. Since its origination in 2000, the green and white seal for certified organic products has become one of the world’s most recognizable food labels, and the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) is serious about protecting what it stands for. Read more »

Location, Location, Location: Identifying Crucial Business Factors for Farmers Markets

A sample of the DOT survey taken at the USDA Farmers Market in 2010.  Here, shoppers were able to indicate what products they purchased at the market.

A sample of the DOT survey taken at the USDA Farmers Market in 2010. Here, shoppers were able to indicate what products they purchased at the market.

In business, location means everything. Not only do businesses need to understand where their customer base exists, but they also need to know where their competitors are.  The same applies to farmers markets: they must understand their customers and competition to determine the potential for profit. The location of a farmers market can influence a vendor or customer’s decision to support a particular market. Read more »

New Technology Means Increased Consistency and Efficiency in Grading for Beef Industry

A screenshot from the electronic grading system showing USDA Choice, Yield Grade 2 beef. The left is the natural color view of the cut; the right is the instrument enhanced view that details the amount of marbling, size, and fat thickness. Beef grading is a complex and detailed process, requiring graders to think and calculate quickly with great accuracy.  Using technology to compliment and supplement the onsite human graders generates an efficient and more precise process.

A screenshot from the electronic grading system showing USDA Choice, Yield Grade 2 beef. The left is the natural color view of the cut; the right is the instrument enhanced view that details the amount of marbling, size, and fat thickness. Beef grading is a complex and detailed process, requiring graders to think and calculate quickly with great accuracy. Using technology to compliment and supplement the onsite human graders generates an efficient and more precise process.

The USDA Choice and USDA Prime grade shields are highly regarded, both domestically and internationally, as symbols of high-quality American beef.  Cattle producers and feeders increasingly rely on USDA grades to determine payments for their cattle—a vital link to supporting and sustaining rural America. Read more »

PACA, the First Line of Defense for the Produce Industry

In business, it’s important to trust . . . but also to verify.  Whether you want to buy or sell U.S. produce, it can sometimes be tricky deciding who to deal with and verifying their credentials. When it comes time to make a move, The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) division can help.

PACA facilitates fair trading practices in the marketing of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables in interstate and foreign commerce thereby ensuring that dealers get what they pay for and also get paid for what they sell—even if customers go out of business, declare bankruptcy, or refuse to pay for produce received. Read more »

Industry Insight: Checkoff Programs Empower Business

When it comes to expanding market share, increasing revenue and getting the word out about a great product or commodity, checkoff programs prove that there’s strength in numbers. Officially called research and promotion programs, checkoff programs give agricultural producers, importers and other stakeholders in the marketing chain the power to maximize resources while managing risk.

The strategy for increasing or expanding commodity markets takes more cooperation within the industry than competition between individual farms and businesses.  Consumers may not know exactly which farm grows or raises their fruit, beef, cotton or lumber, but they will decide what to buy based on knowledge, quality and availability.

The consumer’s perspective that there is a general uniformity to some commodities serves as the catalyst for many individual farms and businesses to collaborate on a comprehensive, industry-wide strategy to expand markets.  Promoting a commodity as a whole instead of by individual businesses means everyone in the industry benefits through increased sales, consumer awareness and higher overall demand. Read more »