Skip to main content

USDA Meets Digital Government Strategy Milestone with Mobile and Open Data Solutions

Posted by Amanda Eamich, Director of Web Communications in Food and Nutrition Health and Safety Technology
May 23, 2013
The Amber Waves mobile app on an iPad with its cover displaying Volume 11, Issue 1, February 2013, "The Economics of Food, Farming, Natural Resources, and Rural America".
The Amber Waves mobile app on an iPad with its cover displaying Volume 11, Issue 1, February 2013, "The Economics of Food, Farming, Natural Resources, and Rural America".

As part of USDA’s 12-month Digital Government Strategy deliverables we are sharing several new mobile and open data projects that help us deliver 21st century service to you, our customers and stakeholders. These new tools and open data efforts will enable USDA customers, to more easily access critical programs and services anywhere, any time and on any device, in addition to stimulating further innovations:

Open Data Application Programming Interfaces (APIs):

Economic Research Service Web Content API – This API provides programmatic access to the primary content areas of the ERS public website, including Topics, Publications, and Charts of Note.

Farmers Market Directory API – This web API provides information about U.S. farmers market locations, directions, operating times, product offerings, and accepted forms of payment, including SNAP and WIC electronic benefits. The directory is one of the USDA's most popular consumer search engines and includes information about more than 7,800 farmers market listings available for all 50 states.

USDA has additional APIs accessible through the USDA Developer Hub and set up a GitHub repository Issue Tracker to enable feedback, questions and recommendations for new API activities.

Mobile Optimized Services and Systems:

Amber Waves Magazine – While Amber Waves began as a print-and-internet product 10 years ago, it moved to web-only publication by 2012. In March, ERS launched a mobile application that readers can download free on iPads and other tablets.

Meat and Poultry Inspection Directory Android App – Customers can easily look up establishments that produce meat, poultry, and/or egg products as regulated by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The MPI app provides enhanced functionality, allowing users to ‘look up’ or search establishments by location or zip code, type of inspection, establishment name or number and type of establishment. The app is currently available for Android devices, and we plan to release an iOS version later this year.

USDA Service Center Locator –This mobile-optimized web application delivers accurate and real-time office information for USDA Service Centers and their partnering agencies. The tool provides USDA Customers with the location of offices serving their area including contact information, street maps, and driving directions. website is now optimized for mobile so users can access key topic data, news releases and other web content from any device. We are also working to optimize the USDA Blog for mobile, so stay tuned!

Learn more about the apps and open data projects from their creators:

Beyond apps and APIs, we have been working to establish a Digital Strategy governance policy that integrates the efforts of the Office of the Chief Information Officer, Office of Communications, as well as agency web, program and public affairs divisions. USDA’s collaborative approach will improve our customer service and delivery of digital programs, services and systems.

We’re working together to ensure all new digital services and systems are appropriately optimized for mobile and that our information is accessible in open, machine-readable formats. This work is important as we strive to make our programs and services accessible and responsive to customers with diverse needs.

Today’s milestone is only the beginning of our coordinated effort to transform the services and systems critical to rural America, consumers, and the wide variety of food and agriculture communities to meet 21st century expectations. Keep an eye on our Digital Strategy page and the blog for new innovations and opportunities for engagement.

Listen to this USDA Radio interview explaining the continuing growth of mobile and digital media options to obtain USDA information and resources.