Yesterday, Secretary Vilsack officially launched the U.S. Government’s new Food, Agriculture and Rural virtual community on Data.gov. This will serve as a single access point for our related datasets, databases, tools, apps and data resources discussed throughout the G-8 Open Data for Agriculture conference. This effort supports our USDA Digital Strategy efforts to ensure high-value services and systems are available anywhere, any time and on any device.
Earlier this year, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published the first Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) Wholesale Pork reports. This was the culmination of a process that started when Congress passed the Mandatory Price Reporting Act of 2010, which added wholesale pork cuts to the commodities required to be reported by packers. Cattle, swine, sheep, boxed beef, boxed lamb, and imported lamb meat already were covered under the program.
Using negotiated rulemaking – a process that allows more interaction with stakeholders than formal rulemaking – AMS developed the rule with the Wholesale Pork Reporting Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, which included pork producers, pork packers, processors, retailers, buyers, and other interested stakeholders. By working directly with a range of stakeholders, USDA ensured that the final rule had support throughout the industry. Read more »
In April of all months, “audit” is the last word most Americans want to hear but last month the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service was cheering because it passed a very meaningful audit by the Office of the Inspector General. According to the OIG, FSIS is appropriately managing meat and poultry slaughter establishments’ appeals of humane handling enforcement actions.
In December 2010, USDA’s Office of Food Safety proactively asked the OIG to determine whether FSIS addressed these types of appeals in a consistent, timely, and accurate manner. The OIG audit was extensive, covering humane handling appeals filed by the industry over a four-year period from January 2007 to December 2010. Not only did OIG publish positive findings; this is the second time in more than eight years that the OIG has published a final report for FSIS without any formal recommendations. Read more »
Last week, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service posted on the agency’s web site copies of recent letters that were sent to plants facing enforcement actions for inhumanely treating animals. Posting these humane handling enforcement letters on the web enhances the transparency component of this process and provides the public a clearer understanding of the types of behavior and conditions that warrant enforcement action by FSIS. This effort is part of a commitment made last year by FSIS to implement new measures to ensure the humane treatment of animals at establishments we regulate.
These letters can be accessed in the agency’s online FOIA reading room and are categorized according to each plant’s designated establishment number, which can be found inside the USDA mark of inspection on food packages at the grocery store. When inhumane handling conditions are encountered, FSIS personnel continue to take action until plant management resolves the problem, often through employee training and facility improvements. Any follow-up correspondence sent to plants also can be accessed in the online FOIA reading room. Read more »