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OpenGov

From Data to Decisions: Using Data to Improve Public Access and Knowledge

There are many companies that are currently using USDA data. Mercaris is a new company filling in the gap in offerings with reliable market data and an online trading tool tailored to the organic and non-GMO production, processing, and retail industries. Their reports present current and archived market condition information to assist in pricing decisions. FarmLogs provides comprehensive farm management software-as-a-service to farmers managing farms ranging from small-scale to over 30k acres. Their platform supports a hybrid of government and farmer-generated data that is analyzed and incorporated into their decisionmaking tools.

USDA wants to continue to encourage additional innovations and solutions by providing the data and statistics necessary that will offer improved agricultural production, global food security, poverty, nutrition and human health, natural resources and environmental issues, rural development, local and regional food systems, and many other issues.

Open Call to Innovators: Apply to present at G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture

Cross posted from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy blog:

In an exciting opportunity, the G-8 is inviting innovators to apply to present ideas that demonstrate how open data can be unleashed to increase food security at the G-8 International Conference on Open Data in Agriculture on April 29-30, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Open data is being used by innovators and entrepreneurs around the world to accelerate development, whether it be tracking election transparency in Kenya or providing essential information to rural farmers in Uganda.  The G-8 conference will convene policy makers, thought leaders, food security stakeholders, and data experts to discuss the role of public, agriculturally-relevant data in increasing food security and to build a strategy to spur innovation by making agriculture data more accessible.  As part of the conference, selected applicants will be invited to showcase  innovative uses of open data for food security in either a Lightning Presentation (a 3-5 minute, image-rich presentation on the first day of the conference) or in the Exhibit Hall (an image-rich exhibit on display throughout the two-day conference).

Need Ag Data Options? We Have You Covered from Beans to Sheep.

In our never-ending quest to satisfy the agricultural community’s and general public’s thirst for information, USDA Market News is collaborating with data.gov to add custom reports to our portal websites

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) collects and publishes a high volume of market information for five major commodity areas.  With the addition of the custom reports feature, we are offering tools that will help farmers, ranchers, and businesses be able to manage, sort, and view our data in a more meaningful way. You can drill down and generate tailored historical reports that include only the data points you need and also download it in a variety of standard formats, like XML or plain text.

OIG Gives FSIS Thumbs Up for “Handling” Appeals

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.

Mobile Ask Karen’s First Anniversary is BYOQ: Bring Your Own Question

One year ago, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service made our first leap into the world of mobile technology, bringing practical information about food safety literally to Americans’ fingertips. With the launch of our Mobile Ask Karen smartphone app, consumers are now able to ask questions like “To what temperature should I cook beef?” whenever and wherever they need the answers.

An Open Look at How FSIS Enforces the Humane Handling of Livestock

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.

USDA Celebrates the United States’ Entry into the Open Government Partnership

President Obama has made openness a high priority, committing his Administration to an “unprecedented level of openness in Government” on his first full day in office.

Since then, the Administration has disclosed more and more information requested under the Freedom of Information Act. We have made voluminous information available on USDA.gov and other government websites and we have used technology in innovative ways that harness government information to improve the lives of ordinary citizens.

Farmers’ Input Helps Make USDA Better

Here at USDA, we work every day to help American farmers. It is important to us to hear how we are doing and how we can improve, and that is why I was happy to have the chance to speak with a group of local producers in Louisiana recently.

These Rural Roundtable sessions are being held across the country by senior Administration officials on behalf of the White House Rural Council to explore ways federal, state and local officials can work together to improve economic conditions and create jobs, and to increase awareness of USDA programs and services.

Interactive Web Tool Maps Food Deserts, Provides Key Data

Cross posted from the Let's Move! blog:

Ensuring that Americans eat well and lead healthy lives is among our greatest goals at USDA.  First Lady Michelle Obama, of course, has taken an important role on this front – leading a national conversation and administration-wide effort.  As part of the Lets Move! initiative USDA is taking on the challenge of food deserts.  These nutritional wastelands exist across America in both urban and rural communities where parents and children simply do not have access to a supermarket.