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agricultural marketing service

1890s Institutions Charging Forth on Specialty Crop Projects through USDA Support

With last month’s announcement of the 2023 Specialty Crop Block Grant awards, the program has reached a milestone of over $1 billion invested into projects to support the U.S. specialty crop industry. Since the program’s inception in 2006, 1890s land-grant universities throughout the country have been using USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) funding to address key specialty crop challenges in their states. SCBGP supports these historically Black colleges and universities, and others nationwide, by funding a variety of grant projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

Professional Training and Cooperation Sustain Organic Careers

One week on the job can take organic inspectors from a field crop farm to a dairy pasture or food production facility. Inspectors audit organic farms, ranches, and businesses to verify that they follow the USDA organic standards. Travel and flexibility are inherent to inspection work, and many inspectors enjoy the opportunity to meet new people and learn about different types of agriculture and food production systems. This schedule, however, can also make it challenging for organic inspectors to connect with colleagues, attend training, or access professional resources.

Increasing Food Access through Farmers Market Implementation and Education

In celebration of National Farmers Market Week (August 6-12), and to further the awareness of farmers markets’ contributions to healthy food access, AMS is highlighting a cooperative agreement partnership with the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) that set out to develop and pilot on-campus farmers markets at three 1890 land grant universities and Vegetable Education (VegU) programs at three farmers markets. Team members from USDA’s Farmers Market Team, AMS’ Local & Regional Foods Division, and FMC are currently working with schools in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Virginia for the pilot projects and farmers markets in Texas, Illinois, and Kentucky to establish VegU programs.

Taking Advantage of USDA’s Local Food Data & Resources

Over the past several years, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has conducted research on local and regional food systems to better understand the relationships, processes, and lessons learned in developing increasingly resilient food supply chains. The Local & Regional Foods Division within AMS has published more findings and tools that combine data analytics with real world case studies. As we celebrate National Farmers Market Week, we want to share these publicly available resources that support producers and consumers involved in farmers market operations.

USDA Celebrates National Farmers Market Week

Secretary Vilsack proclaimed August 6-12, 2023, as National Farmers Market Week to celebrate the growth and impact of farmers markets and their vital role in America’s food supply chain. This year, USDA is especially excited to celebrate the week and showcase our new efforts to support small to mid-sized farmers and regional food systems, including farmers markets. This past spring USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) announced the creation of new USDA Regional Food Business Centers and Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure programs that are providing resources for new and expanded local market opportunities and furthering our work to strengthen the food system.

Organic-focused Education Paves the Way to Technical Skills

Consumers around the globe often recognize the USDA organic seal but may want to learn more about the practices the organic standards include. During an Introduction to Organic Farming and Gardening Course offered by USDA Human Capital Initiative partner Florida Organic Growers (FOG), Dr. Juan C. Rodriquez taught Valencia College students about the meaning of organic.

USDA Meat, Poultry and Egg Quality Grades Can Help Guide Your Summer Menu Choices

As the warm weather approaches, so do days spent outside firing up the grill with friends and family. The month of May kicked off grilling season and whether you are shopping in the grocery store, or doing an online pickup order, there is one easy way to be assured that you’re getting what you paid for: the USDA grade shield. The USDA shield is a symbol of quality and assures consumers that the products they buy have met rigorous quality standards applied by highly skilled USDA graders.

June is National Dairy Month - Here’s what USDA is Doing to Support the Dairy Industry

The last few years have seen the U.S. dairy industry weather some storms, including an unprecedented global pandemic and the related supply chain disruptions, which forced producers to dump millions of gallons of milk that no longer had a market. Through it all, USDA continues to support the industry. For this year’s National Dairy Month, we’d like to highlight two major ongoing USDA programs that focus on the dairy industry.

Apprenticeships Develop Inspectors Skills to Protect Organic Integrity

Every year, thousands of farmers, ranchers, and businesses grow and produce organic products – and all these operations are audited by qualified organic inspectors. Organic inspectors visit fields, pastures, or processing plants to conduct annual reviews where they meet with farmers and processors, ask questions, and observe processes. Annual inspections by qualified inspectors strengthen consumer trust in the USDA organic seal and ensure families are getting what they paid for when they choose to buy organic.