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Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250


Deputy SecretaryMichael L. Young, Acting



Farm Production and Conservation

Farm Production and Conservation
Under Secretary(vacancy)
Deputy Under SecretaryRobert Johansson, Acting

Administrator, Farm Service AgencySteven J. Peterson, Acting
Chief, Natural Resources Conservation ServiceLeonard Jordan
Administrator, Risk Management AgencyHeather Manzano, Acting

Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services

Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services
Under Secretary(vacancy)
Deputy Under SecretaryBrandon Lipps, Acting

Administrator, Food and Nutrition ServiceBrandon Lipps
Director, Center for Nutrition Policy and PromotionJackie Haven, Acting

Food Safety

Food Safety
Under Secretary(vacancy)
Deputy Under SecretaryCarmen Rottenberg, Acting

Administrator, Food Safety and Inspection ServicePaul Kiecker, Acting

Marketing and Regulatory Programs

Marketing and Regulatory Programs
Under SecretaryGregory Ibach

Administrator, Agricultural Marketing ServiceBruce Summers, Acting
Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection ServiceKevin Shea
Administrator, Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards AdministrationRandall D. Jones, Acting

Natural Resources and Environment

Natural Resources and Environment
Under Secretary(vacancy)
Deputy Under SecretaryDan Jiron, Acting

Chief, Forest ServiceTony Tooke

Research, Education and Economics

Research, Education and Economics
Under Secretary(vacancy)
Deputy Under SecretaryChavonda Jacobs-Young, Acting

Administrator, Agricultural Research ServiceChavonda Jacobs-Young
Administrator, Economic Research ServiceMary Bohman
Administrator, National Agricultural Statistics ServiceHubert Hamer, Jr.
Director, National Agricultural LibraryPaul Wester
Director, National Institute of Food and AgricultureSonny Ramaswamy

Rural Development

Rural Development
Assistant to the SecretaryAnne Hazlett

Adminstrator, Rural Business-Cooperative ServiceMark Brodziski, Acting
Administrator, Rural Housing ServiceCurtis Anderson, Acting
Administrator, Rural Utilities ServiceChris McLean, Acting

Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs

Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs
Under Secretary(vacancy)
Deputy Under SecretaryJason Hafemeister, Acting

Administrator, Farm Agricultural ServiceHolly Higgins, Acting


Assistant Secretary for AdministrationMalcom Shorter, Acting
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights(vacancy)

Chief EconomistRobert Johansson
Chief Financial OfficerLynn M. Moaney, Acting
Chief Information OfficerGary Washington, Acting
Chief ScientistChavonda Jacobs-Young , Acting

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional RelationsAbbey Fretz, Acting
Deputy Assistant Secretary for External and Intergovernmental AffairsDoug Crandall, Acting

Director, Advocacy and OutreachCarolyn Parker
Director, Budget and Program AnalysisDiem-Linh Jones, Acting
Director, CommunicationsTimothy M. Murtaugh
Director, National Appeals DivisionSteven C. Silverman
Director, Tribal RelationsBen Keel

General CounselStephen A. Vaden, Acting
Inspector GeneralPhyllis K. Fong

The above list of key personnel was updated 06–2017.

The above list of key personnel was updated 06–2017.

The Department of Agriculture develops agricultural markets, fights hunger and malnutrition, conserves natural resources, and ensures food quality standards.

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) was created by an act of Congress on May 15, 1862 (7 U.S.C. 2201). In carrying out its work in the program mission areas, the USDA relies on the support of departmental administration staff, as well as on the Offices of Communications, Congressional Relations, the Chief Economist, the Chief Financial Officer, the Chief Information Officer, the General Counsel, and the Inspector General.


This mission area centers on helping America's farmers and ranchers deal with the unpredictable nature of weather and markets. These services deliver commodity, conservation, credit, disaster, and emergency assistance programs to strengthen and stabilize the agricultural economy.

Farm Service Agency (FSA)

The Farm Service Agency administers farm commodity, disaster, and conservation programs for farmers and ranchers. It also makes and guarantees farm emergency, ownership, and operating loans through a network of State and county offices.

Commodity Credit Corporation

The Commodity Credit Corporation, an agency and instrumentality of the United States within the USDA, is under the supervision of the Secretary of Agriculture. The Corporation does not have any employees, but relies on various Federal agencies, principally those in the USDA, to conduct its operations. It carries out a wide array of functions as authorized by the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act and as specifically authorized by the Congress in numerous statutes. Corporation funds are used to offer marketing assistance loans to producers of certain commodities, fund conservation programs to protect or enhance natural resources, support the export of agricultural commodities, provide humanitarian assistance abroad, and further economic progress in developing countries.

Commodity Operations

FSA facilitates the purchase, storage, transportation, and disposition of U.S.-origin commodities acquired as a result of commodity loan forfeiture or through procurement for humanitarian food aid programs. FSA administers the United States Warehouse Act, which authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to license warehouse operators who store agricultural products. The FSA also enters into agreements with warehouse operators to store commodities owned by the Commodity Credit Corporation or pledged by farmers as security for Commodity Credit Corporation marketing assistance loans.

Conservation Programs

FSA's conservation programs include the Conservation Reserve Program, which is the Federal Government's largest environmental improvement program on private lands. It safeguards millions of acres of topsoil from erosion, improves air quality, increases wildlife habitat, and reduces water runoff and sedimentation. In return for planting a protective cover of grass or trees on environmentally sensitive land, participants receive an annual rental payment. Cost-share payments are available to help establish conservation practices such as the planting of native grass, trees, windbreaks, or plants that improve water quality and give shelter and food to wildlife.

Farm Commodity Programs

FSA manages farm safety net programs for America’s farmers and ranchers. Its Commodity Credit Corporation stabilizes, supports, and protects farm income and prices; helps maintain balanced and adequate supplies of agricultural commodities; and aids in their orderly distribution.

Farm Loan Programs

FSA makes and guarantees loans to family farmers and ranchers to purchase farmland and finance agricultural production. These programs offer credit on reasonable rates and terms to farmers—those who have suffered financial setbacks from natural disasters, those with limited resources for establishing and maintaining profitable farming operations, and beginners.

Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program

The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program gives financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when yields are low, inventory is lost, or natural disasters prevent planting.

Other Emergency Assistance

In counties that are declared disaster areas, low-interest loans for eligible farmers help cover physical and production losses. Eligible producers can be compensated for crop losses, livestock feed losses, tree damage, and for the cost of rehabilitating certain farmlands damaged by natural disaster.

Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)

The Foreign Agricultural Service improves foreign market access for U.S. products, builds new markets, improves the competitive position of U.S. agriculture in the global marketplace, and provides food aid and technical assistance to foreign countries.

FAS has the primary responsibility for USDA's activities in the areas of international marketing, trade agreements and negotiations, and the collection and analysis of international statistics and market information. It also administers the USDA's export credit guarantee and food aid programs. FAS helps increase income and food availability in developing nations by mobilizing expertise for agriculturally led economic growth.

FAS also enhances U.S. agricultural competitiveness through a global network of agricultural economists, marketing experts, negotiators, and other specialists. FAS agricultural counselors, attaches, trade officers, and locally employed staff are stationed in over 93 countries to support U.S. agricultural interests and cover 171 countries.

In addition to agricultural affairs offices in U.S. embassies, trade offices operate in a number of key foreign markets. They function as service centers for U.S. exporters and foreign buyers seeking market information.

Reports prepared by FAS overseas offices cover changes in policies and other developments that could affect U.S. agricultural exports. FAS staff in U.S. embassies worldwide assess U.S. export marketing opportunities and respond to the daily informational needs of those who develop, initiate, monitor, and evaluate U.S. food and agricultural policies and programs.

The Service also maintains a worldwide agricultural reporting system based on information from U.S. agricultural traders, remote sensing systems, and other sources. Analysts in Washington, DC, prepare production forecasts, assess export marketing opportunities, and track changes in policies affecting U.S. agricultural exports and imports.

FAS programs help U.S. exporters develop and maintain markets for hundreds of food and agricultural products, from bulk commodities to brand-name items. Formal market promotion activities are carried out chiefly in cooperation with agricultural trade associations, State-regional trade groups, small businesses, and cooperatives that plan, manage, and contribute human and financial resources to these efforts. The Service also advises exporters on locating buyers and provides assistance through a variety of other methods, including supporting U.S. participation in trade shows and single-industry exhibitions each year.

Risk Management Agency (RMA)

The Risk Management Agency, on behalf of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC), oversees and administers the Federal crop insurance program under the Federal Crop Insurance Act.

Federal crop insurance is offered to qualifying producers through 16 private sector crop insurance companies. Under the Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA), RMA provides reinsurance, pays premium subsidies, reimburses insurers for administrative and operating expenses, and oversees the financial integrity and operational performance of the delivery system. RMA bears much of the noncommercial insurance risk under the SRA, allowing insurers to retain commercial insurance risks or reinsure those risks in the private market.

In 2016, the Federal crop insurance program provided producers with more than $100 billion in protection. Twenty-five insurance plans are available, covering over 550 varieties of crops, 37 reinsured privately developed products, and 18 RMA-developed pilot programs in various stages of operation.

RMA also works closely with the private sector to find innovative ways to expand coverage. The expansion affects risk protection for specialty crops, livestock and forage, and rangeland and pasture. Thus, RMA is able to reduce the need for ad hoc disaster assistance, while providing coverage for production declines that result from adverse weather in many areas.

Additional information is available on the RMA Web site, which features agency news, State profiles, publications, and announcements on current issues. It also has summaries of insurance sales, pilot programs, downloadable crop policies, and agency-sponsored events. Online tools, calculators, and applications are also part of the Web site.


The mission area of the food, nutrition, and consumer services centers on harnessing the Nation's agricultural abundance to reduce hunger and improve health in the United States. Its agencies administer Federal domestic nutrition assistance programs and the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, which links scientific research to the nutrition needs of consumers through science-based dietary guidance, nutrition policy coordination, and nutrition education.

Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP)

The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion improves the health and well-being of Americans by developing and promoting dietary guidance that links the latest evidence-based scientific research to consumers' nutrition needs. Initiatives range from setting Federal dietary guidance to consumer-based nutrition education (MyPlate), to cutting-edge personalized electronic tools (SuperTracker), to “report cards" on the status of the American diet.


Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)

The Food and Nutrition Service administers the USDA domestic nutrition assistance programs, serving one in four Americans in the course of a year. The FNS works in partnership with States and local agencies to increase food security and reduce hunger by providing children and low-income people with access to food, a healthy diet, and nutrition education.

FNS administers the following nutrition assistance programs:

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) gives nutrition assistance to millions of eligible low-income individuals and families, and it provides economic benefits to communities. SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net. FNS also works with State partners and the retail community to improve program administration and ensure program integrity.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and nonbreastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age 5 who are found to be at nutritional risk. WIC and the Seniors' Farmers' Market Nutrition Programs provide WIC participants and senior citizens with increased access to fresh produce through coupons to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from authorized farmers.

The Farmers' Market Nutrition Program is linked to WIC, which provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education at no cost to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and nonbreastfeeding post partum women, and to infants and children who are up to 5 years of age and found to be at nutritional risk.

The Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program awards grants to States, U.S. Territories, and federally recognized Indian tribal governments for coupons that low-income seniors can use to purchase eligible foods at farmers' markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture programs.

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program improves the health of low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women, nonbreastfeeding mothers up to 1 year postpartum, infants, and children up to age 6. The program supplements their diets with nutritious USDA commodity foods. It also provides food and administrative funds to States to supplement the diets of these groups.

School districts and independent schools that choose to take part in the National School Lunch Program receive cash subsidies and donated commodities from the USDA. In return, they must serve lunches that meet Federal requirements and must offer free or reduced-price lunches to eligible children. School food authorities can also be reimbursed for snacks served to children through age 18 in afterschool educational or enrichment programs.

The School Breakfast Program operates like the National School Lunch Program. School districts and independent schools that choose to take part in the breakfast program receive cash subsidies from the USDA for each meal they serve. In return, they must serve breakfasts that meet Federal requirements and must offer free or reduced-price breakfasts to eligible children.

The Special Milk Program provides milk to schoolchildren and children in childcare institutions who do not participate in other Federal meal service programs. The program reimburses schools for the milk that they serve. Schools in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Programs may participate so that milk is available to prekindergarten and kindergarten children who may not have access to school meal programs.

The Child and Adult Care Food Program helps child and adult care institutions and family or group day care homes provide nutritious foods to promote the health and wellness of young children, older adults, and chronically impaired disabled persons.

The Summer Food Service Program ensures that low-income children receive nutritious meals when they are not attending school.

The Emergency Food Assistance Program helps low-income and elderly Americans access free emergency food and nutrition assistance. The program provides food and administrative funds to States to supplement the diets of these groups.

The Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations helps low-income households—including the elderly living on Indian reservations—and Native American families residing in designated areas in Oklahoma and near reservations elsewhere to access USDA foods.

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program helps make fruits and vegetables available to students free of charge, during the schoolday, in participating elementary schools. The program is a tool for reducing childhood obesity: It exposes schoolchildren to fresh produce that they otherwise might not have the opportunity to sample.


This mission area centers on the labeling and packaging, safety, and wholesomeness of the Nation's commercial supply of egg, poultry, and meat. It also contributes significantly to the President's Council on Food Safety and has helped coordinate a nationwide food safety strategic plan.

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)

The Food Safety and Inspection Service was established by the Secretary of Agriculture on June 17, 1981, pursuant to authority contained in 5 U.S.C. 301 and Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1953 (5 U.S.C. app.). FSIS monitors the Nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry, and processed egg products.

Meat, Poultry, and Processed Egg Products Inspection

FSIS is the public health regulatory agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture that ensures commercial meat, poultry, and processed egg products are safe, wholesome, accurately labeled, and properly packaged. FSIS enforces the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), and the Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA), which require Federal inspection and regulation of meat, poultry, and processed egg products prepared for distribution in commerce for use as human food. FSIS is also responsible for administering the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which requires that livestock are handled and slaughtered humanely at the FSIS-inspected establishment.

FSIS administers FMIA, PPIA, and EPIA by developing and implementing data-driven regulations, including inspection, testing, and enforcement activities for the products under FSIS’s jurisdiction. In addition to mandatory inspection of meat, poultry, and processed egg products, FSIS tests samples of these products for microbial and chemical residues to monitor trends for enforcement purposes and to understand, predict, and prevent contamination. FSIS also ensures that only meat, poultry, and processed egg products that meet U.S. requirements are imported into the United States, and it certifies meat, poultry, and processed egg products for export.

FSIS also monitors meat, poultry, and processed egg products throughout storage, distribution, and retail channels, and it ensures regulatory compliance to protect the public, including detention of products, voluntary product recalls, court-ordered seizures of products, administrative suspension and withdrawal of inspection, and referral of violations for criminal and civil prosecution. To protect against intentional contamination, the Agency conducts food defense activities, as well.

FSIS maintains a toll-free Meat and Poultry Hotline (phone, 888-674-6854; TTY, 800-256-7072) and chat feature to answer questions in English and Spanish about the safe handling of meat, poultry, and egg products. The Hotline's hours are weekdays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., EST, year round. An extensive selection of food safety messages in English and Spanish is available at the same number at all hours of the day. Questions can also be submitted anytime to

"Ask Karen," an online virtual representative, provides answers to consumer questions on preventing foodborne illness, safe food handling and storage, and safe preparation of meat, poultry, and egg products (


The scope of the marketing and regulatory mission area includes marketing and regulatory programs other than those concerned with food safety.

Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)

The Agricultural Marketing Service was established by the Secretary of Agriculture on April 2, 1972, under the authority of Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1953 (5 U.S.C. app.) and other authorities. The Service facilitates the fair and efficient marketing of U.S. agricultural products. It supports agriculture through a variety of programs: cotton and tobacco; dairy; fruit and vegetable; livestock, poultry, and seed; organic products; transportation and marketing, and science and technology. The Service's activities support American agriculture in the global marketplace and help ensure the availability of wholesome food.

Audit and Accreditation Services

AMS audit and accreditation programs give producers and suppliers of agricultural products the opportunity to assure customers of their ability to provide consistent quality products and services. The AMS verifies their documented programs through independent, third-party audits. AMS audit and accreditation programs are voluntary and paid through hourly user-fees.

Commodity Purchasing

The AMS purchases a variety of domestically produced and processed commodity food products through a competitive process involving approved vendors. The purchasing supports American agriculture by providing an outlet for surplus products and encouraging domestic consumption of domestic foods. The wholesome, high quality products, collectively called USDA Foods, are delivered to schools, food banks, and households across the country and constitute a vital component of the Nation's food safety net.

Farmers Markets / Direct-to-Consumer Marketing

The AMS regularly collects data and analyzes farmers market operations and other direct-to-consumer marketing outlets—Community Supported Agriculture, food hubs, on-farm markets—to help market managers, planners, and researchers better understand the effect of these outlets on food access and local economic development, and to help the public find sources of fresh, local food.

Grades / Standards

USDA grade shields, official seals, and labels are symbols of the quality and integrity of American agricultural products. Large-volume buyers such as grocery stores, military institutions, restaurants, and foreign governments benfit from the quality grades and standards because they serve as as a common "language" that simplifies business transactions.

Grant Programs

The AMS administers a series of grant programs that make over $100 million available to support a variety of agricultural activities, including the specialty crop industry and local and regional food system expansion. These grant programs improve domestic and international opportunities for growers and producers and help support rural America.

Laboratory Testing and Approval Services

The AMS oversees the National Science Laboratories (NSL), a fee-for-service lab network. NSL scientists and technicians conduct chemical, microbiological, and biomolecular analyses on food and agricultural commodities. The network provides testing services for AMS commodity programs, other USDA agencies, Federal and State agencies, research institutions, private sector food and agricultural industries, and the U.S. military. The AMS also approves or accredits labs to perform testing services in support of domestic and international trade. At the request of industry, other Federal agencies, or foreign governments, it develops and administers laboratory approval programs to verify that the analysis of food and agricultural products meet country or customer-specified requirements.

Marketing Agreements and Orders

Marketing agreements and orders are initiated by industry to stabilize markets for dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and specialty crops. An agreement is binding only for handlers who sign the agreement. Marketing orders are a binding regulation for the entire industry in the specified geographical area, once the producers and the Secretary of Agriculture have approved it.

Market News

Market News issues thousands of reports each year, providing the agricultural industry with important wholesale, retail, and shipping data. The reports give farmers, producers, and other agricultural businesses the information they need to evaluate market conditions, identify trends, make purchasing decisions, monitor price patterns, evaluate transportation equipment needs, and accurately assess movement.

National Organic Program

The National Organic Program is a regulatory program housed within the AMS. It develops national standards for organically-produced agricultural products. The "USDA ORGANIC" seal means that a product met consistent and uniform standards. USDA organic regulations do not address food safety or nutrition. Organic production integrates cultural, biological, and mechanical practices to increase cycling of resources, biodiversity, and ecological balance.

Pesticide Data Program

The Pesticide Data Program (PDP) monitors pesticide residue nationwide. It produces the most comprehensive pesticide residue database in the Nation. The PDP administers the sampling, testing, and reporting of pesticide residues on agricultural commodities in the U.S. food supply—with an emphasis on those commodities regularly consumed by infants and children. The AMS implements the program in cooperation with State agriculture departments and other Federal agencies. The Environmental Protection Agency relies on PDP data to assess dietary exposure, and Food and Drug Administration and other government experts use them for making informed decisions.

Plant Variety Protection Program

The Plant Variety Protection Office protects the intellectual property of breeders of new seed and tuber varieties. Implementing the Plant Variety Protection Act, the Office examines new applications and grants certificates that protect varieties for 20 or 25 years. Certificate owners have exclusive rights to market and sell their varieties, manage the use of their varieties by other breeders, and benefit from legal protection of their work.

Regulatory Programs

The AMS administers several regulatory programs designed to protect producers, handlers, and consumers of agricultural commodities from financial loss or personal injury resulting from careless, deceptive, or fraudulent marketing practices. These regulatory programs encourage fair trading practices in the marketing of fruits and vegetables, and they require accuracy in seed labeling and in advertising. The AMS also enforces the Country of Origin Labeling law, which requires retailers—full-line grocery stores, supermarkets, club warehouse stores—to notify their customers with information regarding the source of certain foods.

Research and Promotion Programs

The AMS monitors certain industry-sponsored research, promotion, and information programs authorized by Federal laws. These programs give farmers and processors a means to finance and operate various research, promotion, and information activities for agricultural products.

Quality Grading / Inspections

Nearly 600 grade standards have been established for some 230 agricultural commodities to help buyers and sellers trade on agreed-upon quality levels. Standards are developed with assistance from individuals outside the Department, particularly from those involved with the industries directly affected. The AMS also participates in developing international commodity standards to facilitate trade. Grading and classing services are provided to certify the grade and quality of products. These grading services are provided to buyers and sellers of live cattle, swine, sheep, meat, poultry, eggs, rabbits, fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, peanuts, dairy products, tobacco, and other miscellaneous food products. Classing services are provided to buyers and sellers of cotton and cotton products. These services are mainly voluntary and are provided upon request and for a fee. The AMS is also responsible for testing seed.

Transportation Research and Analysis

The Transportation Services Division (TSD) of the AMS serves as the definitive source for economic analysis of agricultural transportation. TSD experts support domestic and international agribusinesses by giving technical assistance and releasing reports and offering analysis. They track developments in truck, rail, barge, and ocean transportation and provide information on and analysis of these modes of moving food from farm to table, from port to market.

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

[For the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service statement of organization, see the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 7, Part 371]

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service was originally established in 1972 and reestablished by the Secretary of Agriculture on March 14, 1977, pursuant to authority contained in 5 U.S.C. 301 and Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1953 (5 U.S.C. app.). The APHIS was established to conduct regulatory and control programs to protect and improve animal and plant health for the benefit of agriculture and the environment. In cooperation with State governments, industry stakeholders, and other Federal agencies, the APHIS works to prevent the entry and establishment of foreign animal and plant pests and diseases. It also regulates certain genetically engineered organisms and supports healthy international agricultural trade and exports of U.S. agricultural products. The agency also works to ensure the humane treatment of certain animals and carries out research and operational activities to mitigate damage caused by birds, rodents, and other wildlife.

Animal Care

Animal Care upholds and enforces the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act. The Animal Welfare Act requires that federally established standards of care and treatment be provided for certain warmblooded animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or publicly exhibited. The Horse Protection Act seeks to end soring by preventing sored horses from participating in auctions, exhibitions, sales, and shows. The Center for Animal Welfare collaborates with other animal welfare entities to help the USDA build partnerships domestically and internationally, improve regulatory practices, and develop outreach, training, and educational resources. Animal Care's emergency response component provides national leadership on the safety and well-being of pets during disasters—supporting animal safety during emergencies is a significant factor in ensuring the well-being of pet owners.

Biotechnology Regulatory Services

To protect plant health, Biotechnology Regulatory Services implements APHIS regulations affecting the importation, movement, and field release of genetically engineered plants and certain other genetically engineered organisms that may pose a risk to plant health. The APHIS coordinates these responsibilities along with the other designated Federal agencies as part of the Federal coordinated framework for the regulation of biotechnology.

International Services

APHIS protects the health and value of American agriculture and natural resources. Its International Services supports this mission in an international environment. The Services collaborate with foreign partners to control pests and diseases, facilitate safe agricultural trade, ensure effective and efficient management of internationally-based programs, and invest in international capacity-building with foreign counterparts to build technical and regulatory skills that prevent diseases and pests from spreading.

Plant Protection and Quarantine

APHIS oversees Plant Protection and Quarantine. The program protects U.S. agriculture and natural resources against the entry, establishment, and spread of economically and environmentally significant pests. It also facilitates the safe trade of agricultural products.

Veterinary Services

Veterinary Services supports APHIS' efforts to protect and improve the health, quality, and marketability of the Nation's animals, animal products, and veterinary biologics. The Service is organized strategically into four sections: surveillance, preparedness, and response; national import export services; science, technology, and analysis; and program support services.

Wildlife Services

Wildlife Services provides Federal leadership and expertise for resolving conflicts between wildlife and people to allow coexistence. It conducts program delivery, research, and other activities through regional and State offices, the National Wildlife Research Center and field stations, as well as through national programs. Contact the APHIS customer service call center for more information. Phone, 844-820-2234.

Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA)

The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration was established in 1994 to facilitate the marketing of livestock, poultry, meat, cereals, oilseeds, and related agricultural products, and to promote fair and competitive trading practices for the overall benefit of consumers and American agriculture. The Packers and Stockyards Program protects fair trade practices, financial integrity, and competitive markets for livestock, meat, and poultry. The Federal Grain Inspection Service facilitates the marketing of U.S. grains, oilseeds, and related agricultural products through its grain inspection and weighing system. The Service also maintains the integrity of the grain marketing system by developing unbiased grading standards and methods for assessing grain quality.


The United States Grain Standards Act requires most U.S. export grain to be inspected. At export port locations, GIPSA or State agencies that have been delegated authority by the Administrator carry out inspections. For domestic grain marketed at inland locations, the Administrator designates private and State agencies to provide official inspection services upon request. Both export and domestic services are provided on a fee-for-service basis.

Methods Development

GIPSA’s methods development activities include applied research or tests to produce new or improved techniques for measuring grain quality. Examples include knowledge gained through the study of how to establish real-time grain inspection, develop reference methods in order to maintain consistency and standardization in the grain inspection system, as well as the comparison of different techniques for evaluation of end-use quality in wheat.

Packers and Stockyards Activities

GIPSA prohibits deceptive, discriminatory, and unfair practices by market agencies, dealers, stockyards, packers, swine contractors, and live poultry dealers in the livestock, meat packing, and poultry industries. According to the provisions of the Packers and Stockyards Act, it fosters fair competition and ensures payment protection for growers and farmers through regulatory activities: investigating alleged violations of the act, auditing regulated entities, verifying the accuracy of scales, and monitoring industry trends to protect consumers and members of the livestock, meat, and poultry industries. The Administration also has certain responsibilities derived from the Truth-in-Lending and the Fair Credit Reporting Acts. GIPSA carries out the Secretary's responsibilities under section 1324 of the Food Security Act of 1985 pertaining to State-established central filing systems to prenotify buyers, commission merchants, and selling agents of security interests against farm products. GIPSA administers the section of the act commonly referred to as the "Clear Title" provision and certifies qualifying State systems.


Official inspections of grains, oilseeds, and other agricultural and processed commodities are based on established official U.S. standards. The inspections also rely on sound, proven, and standardized procedures, techniques, and equipment. The official standards and accompanying procedures, techniques, and equipment produce consistent test results and services, from elevator to elevator and State to State.


GIPSA or State agencies that have been delegated authority the Administrator officially weigh U.S. export grain at port locations. For domestic grain marketed at inland locations, GIPSA or designated private or State agencies provide the weighing services. Weighing services are provided on a fee-for-service basis.


This mission area centers on stewardship of 75 percent of the Nation's total land area. The USDA's operating philosophy in this mission area places a premium on collaboration with diverse partners and on the health and sustainability of ecosystems to maximize stewardship of the Nation's natural resources. This approach ensures that the necessary requirements for maintaining healthy and sustainable systems are in balance with people's priorities and the products and services that they desire.

Forest Service (FS)

[For the Forest Service statement of organization, see the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36, Part 200.1]

In 1876, Congress created the Office of Special Agent in the Department of Agriculture to assess the condition of the forests in the United States. The Forest Service was created decades later by the Transfer Act of February 1, 1905 (16 U.S.C. 472), which transferred the Federal forest reserves and the responsibility for their management to the USDA from the Department of the Interior. The mission of the Forest Service is to achieve quality land management under the sustainable, multiple-use management concept to meet the diverse needs of people. The Service advocates a conservation ethic in promoting the health, productivity, diversity, and beauty of forests and associated lands; listens to people and responds to their diverse needs in making decisions; protects and manages the National Forests and Grasslands to best demonstrate the sustainable, multiple-use management concept; provides technical and financial assistance to State, tribal, and private forest landowners, encouraging them to become better stewards and quality land managers; helps cities and communities improve their natural environment by planting trees and caring for their forests; provides international technical assistance and scientific exchanges to sustain and enhance global resources and to encourage quality land management; assists States and communities in using the forests wisely to promote rural economic development and a quality rural environment; develops and disseminates scientific and technical knowledge that helps protect, manage, and improve use of forests and rangelands; and offers employment, training, and educational opportunities to the unemployed, underemployed, disadvantaged, elderly, and youth.

Forest Research

The Service performs basic and applied research to develop the scientific information and technology needed to protect, manage, use, and sustain the natural resources of the Nation's forests and rangelands, including those on private and tribal lands. Its forest research strategy focuses on three major program components: understanding the structure and functions of forest and range ecosystems; understanding how people perceive and value the protection, management, and use of natural resources; and determining which protection, management, and utilization practices are most suitable for sustainable production and use of natural resources worldwide.

National Forest System

Using the principles of multiple-use and sustained yield, the Service manages 154 National Forests, 20 National Grasslands, 1 tall grass prairie, and 8 national monuments on approximately 193 million acres of land in 44 States, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. The Nation's need for wood and paper products must be balanced against the other vital, renewable resources or benefits that the National Forests and Grasslands provide: recreation and natural beauty, wildlife habitat, livestock forage, and water supplies. As a guiding principle, the Service tries to achieve greatest good for the greatest number in the long run.

These lands are managed to promote resiliency against catastrophic wildfire, epidemics of disease and insect pests, erosion, and other threats. Burned areas receive emergency seeding treatment to prevent massive erosion and stream siltation. Roads and trails are built where needed to give the public access to outdoor recreation areas and provide scenic drives and hikes. Picnic, camping, skiing, water sport and other recreational areas feature facilities for public convenience and enjoyment. Vegetative management methods protect the land and streams, ensure rapid renewal of the forest, provide food and cover for wildlife and fish, and mitigate human impact on scenic and recreation assets. Local communities benefit from activities on National Forest lands. These lands also provide needed oil, gas, and minerals. Millions of livestock and game animals benefit from improved rangelands. The National Forests serve as a refuge for many species of endangered birds, animals, and fish. Some 34.6 million acres are set aside as wilderness and 175,000 acres as primitive areas where timber will not be harvested.

State and Private Forestry

The State and Private Forestry organization of the Forest Service reaches across the boundaries of National Forests to States, tribes, communities, and nonindustrial private landowners. The organization is the Federal leader in giving technical and financial assistance to landowners and resource managers to help sustain the Nation’s forests and protect communities and the environment from wildland fires. National priorities for State and private forestry promote four core actions: conserving and managing working forest landscapes for multiple values and uses, protecting forests from threats, enhancing public benefits from trees and forests, and increasing organizational effectiveness. The State and Private Forestry organization supports sustainable stewardship of non-Federal forest land nationwide, including 423 million acres of private forest land, 69 million acres of State forest land, 18 million acres of tribal forests, and over 130 million acres of urban and community forests. The organization offers leadership in wildland fire management, operations, methods development, risk mapping, forest products utilization, and advanced survey and monitoring, as well as geospatial technologies.

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

[For the Natural Resources Conservation Service statement of organization, see the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 7, Parts 600 and 601]

The Natural Resources Conservation Service, formerly known as the Soil Conservation Service, helps America's farmers, ranchers, and other private landowners develop and implement voluntary efforts to conserve and protect the Nation's natural resources.

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program helps conserve agricultural lands and wetlands by offering financial and technical assistance. Under the program's Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS supports Indian tribes, State and local governments, and nongovernmental organizations in their efforts to protect working agricultural lands and to limit agricultural land use for nonagricultural purposes. Under the program's Wetlands Reserve Easements component, NRCS supports efforts to restore, protect, and enhance enrolled wetlands.

Agricultural Management Assistance

Agricultural Management Assistance, by giving financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers, encourages them to incorporate conversation practices into their farming operations to improve water management and quality, to reduce erosion, and to mitigate risk through production diversification. The assistance supports producers' in their efforts to plant trees for windbreaks, construct irrigation structures, use integrated pest management, and transition to organic farming. NRCS administers the program's conservation components, while AMS and RMA handle the others.

Conservation Stewardship Program

The Conservation Stewardship Program helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation practices that address resource concerns of high priority. Participants earn program payments for conservation performance: Payments are directly proportional to performance. The program offers two types of payments through 5-year contracts: annual payments for adopting new conservation practices and maintaining current ones, and supplemental payments for initiating a resource-conserving crop rotation. Producers may be able to renew a contract if they met the obligations of the initial contract and agree to achieve additional conservation goals.

Conservation Technical Assistance

Conservation Technical Assistance makes conservation technology and the delivery system needed to achieve the benefits of a healthy and productive landscape available to land users. The program reduces the loss of soil from erosion; offers solutions for agricultural waste management, air quality, soil, and water conservation and quality problems; mitigates potential water, sedimentation, or drought damage; improves fish and wildlife habitat; assists others in facilitating changes in land use for natural resource protection and sustainability; and increases the long term sustainability of all lands—cropland, forestland, grazing lands, coastal lands, and developing or developed lands. Technical Assistance supports clients in their efforts to address concerns and problems and explore opportunities related to the use of natural resources. NRCS staff and the employees of other agencies or entities under the technical supervision of NRCS provide the assistance.

Emergency Watershed Protection Program

The Emergency Watershed Protection Program safeguards lives and property in jeopardy due to sudden watershed impairment caused by natural disasters. Emergency assistance includes quickly establishing a protective plant cover on denuded land and stream banks, opening dangerously restricted channels, and repairing diversions and levees. To be eligible for assistance under this program, an emergency area does not need to be declared a national disaster area. NRCS may bear up to 75 percent of the construction cost of emergency measures. The remaining cost must come from local sources. Funding is subject to Congressional approval.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program assists agricultural producers by offering contracts up to a maximum term of 10 years in length. These contracts provide financial assistance for planning and implementing conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for improving air, animal, plant, soil, water, and related resources on agricultural land and nonindustrial private forestland. Sixty percent of the available funds are for conservation activities related to livestock production. The program also helps producers meet Federal, State, tribal and local environmental regulations.

Healthy Forests Reserve Program

The Healthy Forests Reserve Program helps landowners restore, enhance, and protect forestland resources on private lands through easements, 30-year contracts, and 10-year cost-share agreements. The program supports the efforts of landowners to promote the recovery of endangered or threatened species, increase plant and animal biodiversity, and improve carbon sequestration.

National Cooperative Soil Survey

The National Cooperative Soil Survey, a nationwide partnership of Federal, State, regional, and local agencies and private entities and institutions, works cooperatively to investigate, inventory, document, classify, interpret, disseminate, and publish soil information. It informs the public about the uses and capabilities of local soils. The published survey for a county or other designated area includes maps and interpretations that are essential for farm planning, other private land use decisions, and governmental policy development and resource planning.

Plant Materials Program

The Plant Materials Program selects conservation plants and develops innovative planting technology for addressing natural resource challenges and maintaining healthy and productive farms and ranches. It focuses on using plants as a natural solution for conservation issues and reestablishing ecosystem function; collects, selects, and releases grasses, legumes, wildflowers, trees and shrubs, working with commercial, private, public, and tribal partners and land managers to apply new plant-based conservation methods; provides plant materials and new applied technologies for national initiatives; offers plant solutions to fight invasive species, heal lands damaged by natural disasters, reduce drought effects, promote air and water quality, and produce alternative energy; and assists Native American tribes with producing and protecting culturally significant plants.

Regional Conservation Partnership Program

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program promotes coordination between NRCS and its partners for the delivery of conservation assistance to producers and landowners. NRCS assists producers through partnership agreements and program contracts or easement agreements. The program combines the authorities of four previous programs: the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative, the Agricultural Water Enhancement, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and the Great Lakes Basin Programs.

Small Watershed Program

The Small Watershed Program relies on local government sponsors to help participants solve natural resource and related economic problems on a watershed basis. Projects include efforts to protect watersheds, prevent floods, control erosion and sedimentation, improve water supply and quality, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, create and restore wetlands, and support public recreation in watersheds of 250,000 or fewer acres. The program offers both financial and technical assistance. Through the Small Watershed Program, NRCS maps flood hazard areas, solves local flooding problems, evaluates potential greenbelts along streams, develops guidelines for erosion control and runoff management, helps farmers control erosion in high priority watersheds, and improves the water quality of ground water and water bodies.

Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasts

The Snow Survey is conducted by NRCS to make information on future water supplies available to residents of Alaska and Western States. At more than 1,800 mountain sites, NRCS personnel collect and analyze data on snowpack depth and its water equivalent to estimate annual water availability, spring runoff, and summer streamflows. Federal and State agencies, organizations, and individuals rely on these forecasts for agricultural production, fish and wildlife management, municipal and industrial water supply, urban development, flood control, recreation power generation, and water quality management. The National Weather Service includes the forecasts in their river forecasting function.

Watershed Surveys and Planning

The Watershed Surveys and Planning program supports Federal, State, and local agencies and tribal governments in their efforts to protect watersheds from damage caused by erosion, floodwater, and sediment and to conserve and develop water and land resources. The program addresses a number of resource concerns: agricultural drought problems, municipal and industrial water needs, rural development, upstream flood damages, water quality and conservation, wetland and water storage capacity, and water needs for fish, wildlife, and forest-based industries.


This mission area centers on creating, applying, and transferring knowledge and technology to make available affordable food and fiber, ensure food safety and nutrition, and support rural development and people's natural resource needs. The creation, application, and transfer of this knowledge and technology are achieved by conducting integrated national and international research and by providing information, education, and statistical programs and services.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

The Agricultural Research Service conducts research on agricultural problems of high national priority. It provides information access and dissemination to ensure high-quality, safe food and other agricultural products; to assess the nutritional needs of Americans; to sustain a competitive agricultural economy; to enhance the natural resource base and the environment; and to promote economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities, and society as a whole.

Research activities are carried out at 96 domestic locations, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and five overseas locations. ARS conducts much of this research in cooperation with partners in State universities and experiment stations, other Federal agencies, and private organizations. National Programs, headquartered in Beltsville, MD, plans and coordinates the research programs, and five area offices carry out the day-to-day management of the respective programs for specific field locations.

The National Agricultural Library, the primary resource in the United States for information on food, agriculture, and natural resources, serves as an electronic gateway to a widening array of scientific literature, printed text, and agricultural images. The library supports the USDA and a broad customer base of policymakers, agricultural specialists, research scientists, and the general public. It works with other agricultural libraries and institutions to advance open and democratic access specifically to the Nation's agricultural knowledge and to agricultural information in general.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture invests in and advances agricultural education, extension, and research to address societal challenges. The Institute works with academic institutions, land-grant universities, and other science organizations nationwide. With its partners and customers, NIFA promotes a global system of research, extension, and higher education in the food and agricultural sciences and related environmental and human sciences for the good of people, communities, and the Nation.

The Institute collaborates with scientists, policymakers, experts, and educators in organizations worldwide to find innovative solutions to pressing local and global problems. Scientific discovery and application advance the competitiveness of American agriculture, strengthen the U.S. economy, make the Nation's food supply safer, improve the nutrition and well-being of American citizens, sustain natural resources and the environment, and build energy independence. Partnering with other Federal science agencies, NIFA also makes important contributions to science policy decisionmaking.

Economic Research Service (ERS)

The Service informs and strengthens public and private decisionmaking on economic and policy issues affecting agriculture, food, rural development, and the environment. ERS also serves as a primary source of economic information and research in the USDA.

Using a variety of means, ERS disseminates economic information and research results. It produces agency-published research reports, economic briefs, data products, and market analysis and outlook reports. "Amber Waves," its award-winning online magazine features articles on the economics of food, farming, natural resources, and rural America ( The ERS Web site allows access to all agency products, and it connects users directly with ERS analysts. The agency delivers oral briefings, written staff analyses, and congressionally mandated studies to executive and legislative branch policymakers and program administrators. Its experts also write articles for professional journals and present papers at academic conferences and meetings.

National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)

The National Agricultural Statistics Service prepares estimates and reports on production, supply, price, chemical use, and other items necessary for the orderly operation of the U.S. agricultural economy.

NAAS reports include statistics on field crops, fruits and vegetables, dairy, cattle, hogs, sheep, poultry, aquaculture, and related commodities or processed products. Estimates concern farm numbers, farm production expenditures, agricultural chemical use, prices received by farmers for products sold, prices paid for commodities and services, indexes of prices received and paid, parity prices, farm employment, and farm wage rates.

NASS prepares these estimates through a complex system of sample surveys of producers, processors, buyers, and others associated with agriculture. Information is gathered by mail, electronic data reporting, telephone, and personal interviews.

The Service conducts the Census of Agriculture, which is taken every 5 years and provides comprehensive data on the agricultural economy down to the county level. It also conducts follow-on studies on aquaculture, irrigation, horticultural energy, and organic agriculture.

NASS performs reimbursable survey work and statistical consulting services for other Federal and State agencies. It also helps other countries develop agricultural data systems by offering technical assistance.


The rural development mission area centers on increasing the economic opportunities of rural Americans and improving their quality of life. To achieve these goals, the USDA creates and fosters cooperative relationships among Government, industry, and communities. As a capital investment bank, the USDA provides financing for rural housing and community facilities, business and cooperative development, telephone and high-speed Internet access, and electric, water, and sewer infrastructure. Approximately 3,400 employees in 47 State offices and 477 field offices administer rural development loan and grant programs at the local level.

Advanced Biofuel Repayment Program

The program provides payments to producers to support and expand production of advanced biofuels refined from sources other than corn kernel starch.

Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program

This program assists in the development, construction, and retrofitting of new and emerging technologies for developing advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased product manufacturing by giving loan guarantees.

Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program

This program creates jobs and stimulates the rural economy by financially backing rural businesses. It bolsters the existing private credit structure through the guaranteeing of loans for rural businesses, allowing private lenders to increase the credit that they extend. Borrowers use loan proceeds for working capital, machinery and equipment, buildings, real estate, and certain types of debt refinancing. A borrower may be a cooperative organization, corporation, partnership, nonprofit corporation, Native American tribe, federally recognized tribal group, public body, or individual.

Cooperative Programs

USDA Cooperative Programs is the Nation's major source for information on cooperatives. Its library of more than 150 co-op publications—many of which are available in hardcopy, as well as online—range from co-op primers, such as "Co-ops 101," to reports on technical topics, such as "Tax Law for Cooperatives," to reports focusing on co-op economic theory, such as "The Nature of the Cooperative." These publications may be accessed on the "Publications for Cooperatives" Web page.

Delta Health Care Services Grant Program

This program provides financial assistance to meet ongoing health needs in the Delta Region through cooperation among health care professionals, institutions of higher education, research institutions, and others in the Delta Region.

Intermediary Relending Program

This program provides capital to rural areas through low-interest and direct loans made to nonprofit corporations, public agencies, Native American groups, and certain corporations (intermediaries). These intermediaries establish revolving loan funds so they can relend the money to businesses in economically and socially disadvantaged rural communities. The process creates a source of capital that promotes job growth and economic development.

Repowering Assistance Program

This program funds up to 50 percent of the total eligible costs for biorefineries to install renewable biomass systems for heating and power or to produce new energy from renewable biomass.

Rural Business Development Grant Program

This program provides grants for rural projects that promote small and emerging business development, business incubators, employment, and related adult education programs. It also provides grants for sustainable economic development in rural communities with exceptional needs. Recipients use the grants to fund community- and technology-based economic development projects, feasibility studies, leadership and entrepreneur training, rural business incubators, and long-term business strategic planning. Eligible organizations include Native American tribes, nonprofit corporations, and rural public entities.

Rural Business-Cooperative Service

To meet business credit needs in underserved rural areas, USDA's Rural Business-Cooperative Service provides loan guarantees, direct loans, and grants to rural businesses, cooperatives, farmers, and ranchers, often in partnership with private sector lenders. The following is a list and description of USDA's Rural Development business and cooperative programs.

Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program

This program improves rural economic conditions by assisting individuals and businesses in the startup, expansion or operational improvement of rural cooperatives and other mutually-owned businesses through Cooperative Development Centers.

Rural Economic Development (RED) Loan and Grant Program

The RED Loan and Grant programs provide funding to rural projects through local utility organizations. Under the loan program, USDA gives zero-interest loans that local utilities pass through to local businesses for projects that create and retain employment in rural areas. Under the grant program, USDA gives grant funds to local utility organizations that use them to establish revolving loan funds.

Rural Energy for America Program

Grant recipients assist rural small businesses and agricultural producers by conducting and promoting energy audits and assisting in the development of renewable energy.

Rural Housing Programs

USDA Rural Development improves the quality of life in rural America. Its Rural Housing Service offers loans, grants, and loan guarantees to support essential services such as housing, economic development, health care, first-responder equipment and personnel, and water, electric and communications infrastructure. It also helps rural residents buy or rent safe and affordable housing, and make home repairs to improve safety and to create healthier living environments.

Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program

This program makes loans and gives grants to Microenterprise Development Organizations. These organizations then provide microloans for microenterprise startups and growth through a rural microloan revolving fund. They also offer training and technical assistance to microloan borrowers and microentrepreneurs.

Rural Utilities Programs

USDA Rural Development strengthens rural economies and makes life better for Americans living in rural areas. Its Rural Utilities Service administers programs that provide infrastructure or infrastructure improvements to nonurban communities. These programs include water and waste treatment and electric power and telecommunications services. Utilities programs connect residents to the global community and its economy by increasing access to broadband and 21st-century telecommunications services, funding sustainable renewable energy development and conservation, financing reliable and affordable electric systems, working to integrate electric smart grid technologies, and developing reliable and affordable rural water and wastewater systems.

Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant Program

This program gives technical assistance to small socially-disadvantaged agricultural producers in rural areas.

Value-Added Producer Grant Program

This program helps agricultural producers engage in value-added activities related to the processing and marketing of bio-based, value-added products. The program is designed to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income.

Sources of Information

Ask the Expert

This tool helps Web site visitors locate the answers to their USDA-related questions.

A–Z Index

The USDA Web site has a topical index that is arranged in alphabetical order.


The USDA Web site features a blog that includes contributions on conservation, energy, food and nutrition, forestry, knowing your farmer and your food, rural development, and other topics.

Business Opportunities

Marketing to the USDA can be a daunting task. To assist businessmen and women who seek to sell their products and services to the agency, the USDA has collected all of the necessary information and packaged it in one place—in the "Doing Business with USDA Kit" (2005 edition).

The USDA awards over 50 percent of eligible contracting dollars to small businesses nationwide. Information on contracting or subcontracting opportunities, attending small business outreach events, or how to do business with the USDA is available on the "Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization" Web site. Phone, 202-720-7117.

Career Opportunities

For information on vacant positions within the USDA and opportunities for students, recent graduates, and veterans, visit the "Careers and Jobs" Web page.

In 2017, the USDA ranked 7th among 18 large agencies in the Partnership for Public Service's Best Places To Work Agency Rankings.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Departmental Management oversees the USDA's FOIA program. Twenty-one USDA FOIA officers at the mission area and agency levels work to increase Government transparency through proactive disclosures and the use of technology.

Agency reading rooms are updated frequently and contain commonly requested records. Information seekers should visit the relevant reading rooms before submitting a FOIA request.

The FOIA public access link (PAL) is a web portal that allows information seekers to create and submit a FOIA request and to check its status. Registration, which requires creating a user name and password, is the first step for using PAL.


The USDA maintains a glossary of agency acronyms.


Announcements, factsheets, reports, and statements are accessible online.

Open Government

The USDA supports the Open Government initiative by promoting the principles of collaboration, participation, and transparency.

Organic Agriculture

The USDA is committed to increasing organic agriculture. It operates many programs that serve the growing organic sector. The USDA Organic Seal, which has been in use nearly 15 years, is a leading global standard. Visit the "Organic Agriculture" Web pages to learn more.

Instructions for becoming a certified organic operation are available online.

To receive "USDA Organic Insider" updates via email, use the online subscription form.

Organizational Chart

The USDA's organizational chart is available in Portable Document Format (PDF) for viewing and downloading.

Plain Language

In support of the Plain Writing Act of 2010, USDA editors and writers strive to provide the public with information that is clear, understandable, and useful in forms, instructions, letters, notices, and publications. If a USDA document or content on the Department's Web site is unclear or difficult to understand, contact the USDA via email. | Email:

Program Discrimination

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights investigates and resolves complaints of discrimination in programs operated or assisted by the USDA. Information on what to include in a letter of complaint is available online. For information on the discrimination complaint process, contact the information research service in the Office of the Assistant Secretary. Phone, 202-260-1026 or 866-632-9992. Federal Relay Service, 800-877-8339 (English) or 800-845-6136 (Spanish). | Email:


Agency reports, data, and forecasts and outlooks are accessible online.

Site Map

The Web site map allows visitors to look for specific topics or to browse for topics that align with their interests.


Birds and other animals occasionally collide with airborne aircraft and planes moving on the ground. These collisions are called wildlife strikes, and snarge is the remaining residue after impact. To learn about efforts to reduce wildlife strikes, visit the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's (APHIS) wildlife strike web page.

Watch the USDA's video to see how bird parts and snarge are collected, reported, shipped, and identified.

Social Media

The USDA tweets announcements, events, and other newsworthy items on Twitter.


Contact the nearest USDA office or county extension agent. In the District of Columbia, contact the Office of Communications, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250. Phone, 202-720-4623.

Whistleblower Hotline

To file a complaint of alleged improprieties—employee misconduct, conflicts of interest, criminal activity, mismanagement or wasteful use of funds, workplace violence—visit the "OIG Hotline" Web page and use the "Submit a Complaint" feature. Or, contact a regional office or the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 23399, Washington, DC 20026. Phone, 800-424-9121 or 202-690-1622. TDD, 202-690-1202. Fax, 202-690-2474.

Wood Pellets

European Union (EU) policies requiring renewable energy sources and energy associated with low greenhouse gas emissions are affecting wood products manufacturing and forests in the United States. Wood pellet production is on the rise as export to the EU increases. The primary U.S. exporting region is the South. To learn more about this topic, see the "Effect of Policies on Pellet Production and Forests in the U.S. South," which was published by the Southern Research Station of the U.S. Forest Service in December of 2014.

For further information concerning the Department of Agriculture, contact the Office of Communications, Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250. Phone, 202-720-4623.