Information on how USDA is organized, our priorities and critical partnerships, opportunities to have your voice heard at USDA, Receipt for Service and more
About the United States Department of Agriculture
Familiarizing yourself with how USDA operates, including which of the 29 agencies and offices delivers certain programs, and understanding department priorities, can help you take advantage of what USDA has to offer. Included below are some resources you may find useful.
How the Department is Organized
USDA is made up of 29 agencies and offices that serve the American people in more than 4,500 locations.
- Learn More About USDA’s Agencies
Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)
AMS facilitates the strategic marketing of agricultural products in domestic and international markets while ensuring fair trading practices and promoting a competitive and efficient marketplace.
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
ARS is USDA's principal in-house research agency. ARS leads America towards a better future through agricultural research and information.
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
APHIS provides leadership in ensuring the health and care of animals and plants. The agency improves agricultural productivity and competitiveness and contributes to the national economy and public health.
Economic Research Service (ERS)
ERS is USDA's principal social science research agency. Each year, ERS communicates research results and socioeconomic indicators via briefings, analyses for policymakers and their staffs, market analysis updates and major reports.
Farm Service Agency (FSA)
Farm Service Agency implements agricultural policy, administers credit and loan programs and manages conservation, commodity, disaster and farm marketing programs through a national network of offices.
Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)
FNS increases food security and reduces hunger in partnership with cooperating organizations by providing children and low-income people access to food, a healthy diet and nutrition education in a manner that supports American agriculture and inspires public confidence.
Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
FSIS enhances public health and well-being by protecting the public from foodborne illness and ensuring that the Nation's meat, poultry and egg products are safe, wholesome and correctly packaged.
Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)
FAS works to improve foreign market access for U.S. products. This USDA agency operates programs designed to build new markets and improve the competitive position of U.S. agriculture in the global marketplace.
Forest Service (FS)
FS sustains the health, diversity and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.
National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)
NASS serves the basic agricultural and rural data needs of the country by providing objective, important and accurate statistical information and services to farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and public officials.
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
NIFA is USDA’s extramural research funding agency whose investments advance agricultural research, education and extension to solve societal challenges.
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
NRCS provides leadership in a partnership effort to help people conserve, maintain and improve our natural resources and environment.
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights (OASCR)
OASCR's mission is to provide leadership and direction for the fair and equitable treatment of all USDA customers and employees while ensuring the delivery of quality programs and enforcement of civil rights. OASCR ensures compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies for USDA customers and employees regardless of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and expression), religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital or familial status, political beliefs, parental status, protected genetic information, or because all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program.
Office of Congressional Relations (OCR)
OCR serves as the Department's liaison with Members of Congress and their staffs. OCR works closely with members and staffs of various House and Senate Committees including the House Agriculture Committee and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry to communicate USDA's legislative agenda and budget proposals.
Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE)
OPPE develops and maintains partnerships focused on solutions to challenges facing rural and underserved communities in the United States, and connects those communities to the education, tools, and resources available to them through U.S. Department of Agriculture programs and initiatives.
Risk Management Agency (RMA)
RMA helps to ensure that farmers have the financial tools necessary to manage their agricultural risks. RMA provides coverage through the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, which promotes national welfare by improving the economic stability of agriculture.
Rural Development (RD)
RD helps rural areas to develop and grow by offering Federal assistance that improves quality of life. RD targets communities in need and then empowers them with financial and technical resources.
- Rural Utilities Service (RUS)
RUS provides financing to build or improve infrastructure in rural communities. This includes water and waste treatment, electric power and telecommunications services.
- Rural Housing Service (RHS)
RHS offers a variety of programs to build or improve housing and essential community facilities in rural areas, including loans, grants and loan guarantees for single- and multi-family housing, childcare centers, fire and police stations, hospitals, libraries, nursing homes, schools, first responder vehicles and equipment, housing for farm laborers and much more.
- Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS)
RBS offers programs to help businesses grow as well as job training for people living in rural areas. These programs help provide capital, training, education and entrepreneurial skills that can help people living in rural areas start and grow businesses or find jobs in agricultural markets and in the bio-based economy.
- Rural Utilities Service (RUS)
USDA Partnership and Committee Opportunities
USDA relies on input and involvement from diverse perspectives through partnerships with various organizations to execute its mission. Many partnership opportunities at USDA are specific to a program, service or customer type; search for UDSA partnerships regularly to find current offerings. Use the resources below to find opportunities to partner with a USDA agency and/or participate on an advisory committee.
- Opportunities to Partner with USDA
National Institute of Food and Agriculture Partnership Opportunities
The role of partnerships is at the core of the integrated approach National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) uses to discover and apply groundbreaking solutions to critical challenges related to agriculture, food, the environment and communities.
Partnering with the Forest Service
Learn about opportunities for organizations to partner with the Forest Service to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.
Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement Special Initiatives
Get involved in a variety of Presidential, Congressional and Secretarial initiatives including Women in Agriculture, The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Farmworker Coordination, Youth in Agriculture, and opportunities for veterans in agriculture.
- Having a Voice on USDA Committees
Farm Service Agency County Committees
Seek to join your Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committee to shape the culture of your local FSA office and inform county-level decisions such as determinations on programs such as disaster assistance, hiring decisions and outreach. Note that membership to these committees is by election and for individuals who meet eligibility requirements.
Natural Resources Conservation Service State Technical Committees
Advise the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on the implementation of the natural resources conservation provisions of Farm Bill legislation by seeking membership on your NRCS State Technical Committee.
USDA Advisory Committees
Participating on an advisory committee is one way to influence USDA decisions. Learn more about the over 4,000 opportunities to serve on a USDA advisory committee and consult with and make recommendations to USDA concerning various topics.
Resources for American Indians or Alaska Natives
The Office of Tribal Relations
The Office of Tribal Relations (OTR) serves as a single point of contact for Tribal issues and works to ensure that relevant programs and policies are efficient, easy to understand, accessible, and developed in consultation with the American Indians and Alaska Native constituents they impact.
OTR leads the intergovernmental role for the Department with Tribes. Efforts through consultation, coordination and collaboration support the preservation of the government-to-government relationship and enhance access to USDA’s various programs and services to Tribes, Tribal organizations and citizens.
Resource Guide for American Indians and Alaska Natives (PDF, 1.8 MB)
Key USDA programs accessible by Tribes, Tribal organizations, or Tribal citizens and describes USDA grant opportunities and services, USDA agency roles and responsibilities, policies relevant to Indian Country, and success stories from people who have used USDA programs and services.
Tribal Relations - Forest Service
Learn more about how the Forest Service consults with Tribal Nations on policies that may affect Tribes, strives to increase benefit for Tribes from Agency programs and more.
Tribal Relations - Rural Development
USDA Rural Development (RD) collaborates and partners with Tribes to realize a brighter future for families, children, and Tribal communities. Through consultation, coordination, and collaboration, RD honors government-to-government relationships with Tribes and enhances access to various programs and services to Tribes, Tribal members, and Tribal organizations.
Resource Guide for Native Youth (PDF, 850 KB)
The USDA Native Youth Guide provides information to help Tribal youth learn about USDA programs and resources.
Receipt for Service
Ask for a Receipt for Service. It’s your right. To help ensure that all existing and potential USDA customers are being properly served in local offices, federal law and USDA regulations require that a Receipt for Service be provided to any current or prospective agricultural producer or landowner who requests, in person or in writing, a benefit or service from the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rural Development.
Page last updated: July 5, 2023