The U.S. Department of Agriculture or USDA as it’s often referred to, develops and implements policies on farming, food and agriculture. Because of the breadth and scope of this department, there are 17 key agencies that support the USDA. The link below will take you to the USDA Agencies and Offices page where you can see all of the agencies and offices that support the Department of Agriculture. These agencies cover a broad array of services including agricultural marketing and research services, farm services, food and nutrition services, food safety & inspection services, foreign agricultural service, forest service, resource conservation service and rural development, just to name a few. The scope of the USDA is so big that this is a Department you want to have in your sights.
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is one of the 17 agencies in the USDA and it runs programs that foster the efficient, fair marketing of food, fiber and specialty crops. The AMS has five commodity programs, an organic program, a science and technology program and a transportation and marketing program. With these programs, the AMS, in effect, trades food commodities, administers organic standards, researches quality assurance standards and manages logistics for the food supply in the US and around the world. And this is just ONE agency.
Another key agency of the US Department of Agriculture is the Farm Service Agency (FSA). This agency administers programs for farmers and ranchers including farm commodity, credit, crop insurance, environmental and emergency assistance programs. Key programs for the FSA fall under the categories of conservation, energy, farm loans and disaster assistance. The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) is one of the FSA’s energy programs created under the 2008 Farm Bill. BCAP is a primary component in the strategy to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, improve energy security, reduce carbon pollution and foster rural economic development and job creation.
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is the agency that administers nutrition assistance programs in the USDA. They provide food, a healthy diet and nutrition information to children and low-income individuals in America. Programs like WIC, National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Summer Food Service, Food Distribution and Farmers Market Nutrition all fall under the FNS.
Another primary agency of the Department of Agriculture is the Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS). FSIS is the public health agency of the USDA and they are responsible for ensuring the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry and egg products is packaged correctly and is safe as per regulations. The programs under this agency include the food recall program, food defense and emergency response and food safety education.
The Foreign Agricultural Service (FSA) links US agriculture to the rest of the world market to enhance export opportunities and global food security. Its major programs and services focus on trade policy, market development, export assistance, data and analysis and international development.
The Forest Service manages public lands in national forests and grasslands and encompasses 193 acres of land while the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the primary agency that works with private landowners. Seventy percent of land in the US is privately owned, so the NRCS ensures the health of our Nation’s environment by working with landowners through conservation planning and assistance to benefit soil, water, air plants and animals.
The Rural Development agency is committed to the future of rural communities by improving the quality of life of rural residents via increased economic opportunities. The Rural Development agency provides assistance to the communities it serves with business programs, cooperative programs, rural utilities programs and community development programs. The agency has a portfolio of $155 billion in loans and will administer $20 billion in loans, grants and loan guarantees through their programs in the current fiscal year.
I’ve just touched on eight of the 17 key agencies that support the Department of Agriculture. I encourage you to use the link provided to review the others offices and agencies that support the USDA. The depth and breadth of this department make for tons of opportunities for businesses in many different sectors. As we progress through each of the 15 departments I trust you’ll discover a niche for your business.
http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navtype=MA&navid=AGENCIES_OFFICES - Agencies and Offices of the USDA